For the second consecutive year, Black-Eyed Susan Day at Pimlico was filled with (unexpected) sunshine and warm hearts as it was the 2nd (annual?) People’s Pink Party, featuring the Lady Legends race which pitted eight retired female jockeys against one another. It was the 7th race on the card, won by Mary Wiley-Wagner and her mount Mass Destruction.
What a proud moment for the Maryland Jockey Club (MJC) and everyone who had a hand in pulling it off and making such a generous donation as Pimlico pledged to raise a minimum of $100,000 for Susan G. Komen For The Cure. Fifty percent of the funds raised will go to the Komen Maryland affiliate to use for community outreach programs in Maryland, and the remaining 50 percent will be used for life-saving breast cancer research.
For the record, on Friday my Longshot pick (2nd race #6 – More Than Candy) did not fare too well, but my BEST BET (11th race #7 – Suzzona) came through to win at odds of 7-2. Stats on both picks for the entire meet thus far are as follows…
Best Bet pick scorecard from 28 selections at Pimlico Meet: 11 WIN – 3 PLACE – 6 SHOW.
Longshot pick scorecard from 27 selections at Pimlico Meet: 5 WIN – 5 PLACE – 2 SHOW.
The Preakness Day forecast for the Baltimore-metropolitan area calls for more of the same…plenty of sunshine, clear skies and a fast track. There are 13 races on the card. The $1,000,000 Preakness Stakes is the 12th race, with approximate Post Time 6:18pm EDT.
Below I offer my opinions on all 13 races, but I’ll start with the Main Event. Here’s how I see the 136th running of the Preakness Stakes playing out, listed in my predicted order of finish. Odds shown are the current betting odds after Friday’s advanced wagering.
1st - # 10 Dialed In (3-1): Failed as Derby favorite and makes amends by winning the Preakness. This same scenario has been played out numerous times over the past 20 Preakness’. In the Derby he was a victim of a slow early pace, was too far back through the first ½ of the race, but then ran the fastest final ¼ mile in the Derby since Secretariat (1973). In the Florida Derby (race prior to KY Derby), the track had an overwhelming Speed Bias, yet he closed 7 lengths in the stretch to win. Something he may have to repeat as Pimlico has not been kind to deep closer-types the past 2 days. Finally, his Hall of Fame trainer (Nick Zito) has had a calm confidence when talking about his colts’ ability and consistency. That’s good enough for me.
2nd – # 8 Dance City (10-1): has been outrunning his sires sprinter bloodlines and must have gotten the majority of his dams sire (Pleasant Colony) stamina because trainer Todd Pletcher has never run him in a race of less than one mile. A game 3rd in the Arkansas Derby, he pressed a hot early pace yet never gave in while the other pacesetters wilted in the stretch. Former MD jockey standout (Ramon Dominguez) knows his way around the Pimlico oval and can
3rd - # 6 Sway Away (14-1): Has been training lights out since his 4th place finish in the Arkansas Derby, where his jock moved him way to early. He’s got a familiar jock back in the irons who exercises patience and will place him within striking distance throughout ready to make one big run in mid-stretch.
4th - # 11 Animal Kingdom (3-1): How dare I not pick the Derby winner in order to keep the Triple Crown possibility alive?! Well, I’m wrong more offer than I’m right with these big race picks, so maybe in a weird, distorted way, I know I won’t be the one who jinxed him. The task of coming back in 2 weeks to repeat the Derby trip and performance we all witnessed is highly unlikely for a colt with only 5 starts under his belt. My heart is with him, but a horse racing never bets with his heart.
5th - # 9 Mucho Macho Man (6-1): Trainer Kathy Ritvo would become the first woman trainer to win the Preakness, but this game colt might have a hard time staying on in deep stretch to prevail. He’s a handful to train and a sight to behold around the barn, but might come up short again. Hunch Bettors should note that former pro wrestler Randy “Macho Man” Savage died on Friday in a car accident after suffering a heart attack.
6th – # 1 Astrology (13-1): Was one colt with high expectation as a 2 year old, had an injury which forced him to stop training in the winter. Since returning the races he’s been the runner-up in 2 graded stakes races, against talent a notch below this level. Third race after a layoff is a popular angle, but for a colt who is bred to “run all day”, he has had a tendency to “hang”. Mike Smith is in the irons instead of riding Mr. Commons for John Shirreffs, who teamed up with Zenyatta and nearly all other of Shirreffs runners. Hmmm.
7th - # 5 Shackleford (12-1): Has run 2 monster races back-to-back and is due to “bounce” (aka run a subpar race). He set the slowest Derby pace in 40 years going the first half in 48. That won’t be the case here, and could easily get used up too early even with the Pimlico track being kind to front runners over the past 2 racing days.
8th – # 2 Norman Asbjornson (30-1): Is battle tested as MD trainer and jockey showed promise running at Aqueduct in the Gotham (2nd) and Wood Memorial (4th), but appears to have distance limitations. He’ll be in contention most of the way, but might have issues finding another gear for a strong finish.
9th – # 13 Concealed Identity (20-1): Blind in one eye, he’s one of the local runners who love the Pimlico dirt surface, winning his most recent 2 races here, but he’s never faced this kind of competition before. From owner, trainer, exercise rider and jockey, it’s a family affair that would make a terrific Cinderella story, but he’ll be carrying 10 lbs. more than he did in his last race, which “could stop a train” when your talking about a 3 year old gelding being asked to run 1/8 mile further than he ever as in his 8 race career.
10th – # 4 Flashpoint (24-1): His bloodlines make him a longshot to be the best in here going 1 3/16 miles, has both sire and dam were best going one mile or shorter. He’ll be heard from early in this race, but will begin to back-peddle when the field turns for home.
11th - # 7 Midnight Interlude (9-1): I’ll bet you see him closer to the front than towards the back as he was in the Derby (finishing 15th), but he’s still immature and not ready to blossom. Trainer Bob Baffert has won the Preakness 5 times and the jockey (Martin Garcia) won last year aboard Lookin At Lucky, so don’t be fooled by his relatively low odds, folks love betting on Baffert in B’more.
12th - #14 Mr. Commons (45-1): Remember Zenyatta?! Well, her trainer trains this guy, but his “go to” jockey (Mike Smith) is riding (#1) Astrology instead. That would be like Kobe signing with the Miami Heat when Phil Jackson was still the Lakers Head Coach. On the positive side Mr. Commons has looked good galloping over the Pimlico track this week, albeit a sloppy one.
13th - # 3 King Congie (21-1): He has improved in each of his six (6) races, but the last four have been run on turf or synthetic. His 2 dirt races were sprints where he lost by a combined 31½ lengths.
14th - # 12 Isn’t He Perfect (23-1): Might have a chance to finish 1st in the 13th race.
Based on my analysis of the Preakness, I’ll play…
$10 WIN, PLACE, SHOW on # 10 (Dialed In)
$1 EXACTA BOX on # 10 (Dialed In), # 8 (Dance City), # 6 (Sway Away), # 11 (Animal Kingdom)
$1 TRIFECTA PART-WHEEL #1, 6, 9, 10, 11 with #8 (Dance City) in 2nd spot with #1, 6, 9, 10, 11
Selections for all other races at PImlico…
1st race – Alw 31000n1x – 6 furlongs
#2 – Boreal Forest (9-5)
#7 – Carolyn’s Moon (15-1)
#3 – Devilish Gait (12-1)
2nd race – $7,500 Starter Handicap for MD Breds – 1 1/16 miles
#1 – Say Now (12-1) $$$ LONGSHOT PICK $$$
#5 – Heavenstomurgatroid (8-5)
#4 – Gold Chasing (6-1)
3rd race – Alw 31000n1x – 1 1/16 miles on the TURF
#4 – Majestictroubadour (8-1)
#12 – Live The Dash (12-1)
#9 – Double Eagle (5-2)
4th race – Gr. 3 $100k Allaire DuPont Distaff – 1 1/16 miles
#7 – Super Espresso (10-1)
#4 – Life At Ten (4-5)
#2 – Payton D’Oro (4-1)
5th race – Optional Claiming $25,000n2x – 5 furlongs on the TURF
#8 – Easy Ashley (7-2)
#7 – Profit (15-1)
#11 – Toni’s The Won (5-1)
6th race – $100k Chick Lang Stakes – 6 furlongs
#4 – Escort (7-2) *** BEST BET ***
#1 – Ghost Is Clear (8-1)
#9 – No Easy Answer (20-1)
7th race – $100k James W. Murphy Stakes – 1 mile on the TURF
#9 – Humble And Hungry (5-1)
#4 – Lil Bit O Fun (5-1)
#10 – Joes Blazing Aaron (5-2)
8th race – Gr. 3 $100k Maryland Sprint Handicap – 6 furlongs
#4 – Delong Road (12-1)
#3 – Nathan’s H Q (4-1)
#9 – Gattopardo (15-1)
9th race – Gr. 3 $100k Gallorette Handicap – 1 1/16 miles on the TURF
#3 – Theda’s Smile (30-1)
#6 – Shared Account (4-5)
#4 – Baltimore Belle (20-1)
10th race Gr. 3 $100k Wm. D. Schaefer Memorial – 1 1/16 miles
#8 – Colizeo (7-2)
#5 – Icabad Crane (4-1)
#1 – Researcher (8-1)
11th race – Gr. 2 $200k Dixie Handicap – 1 1/8 miles on the TURF
#7 – Pocket Patch (12-1)
#1 – Eighttofasttocatch (10-1)
#4 – Paddy O’Prado (4-5)
12th race – Preakness Stakes – 1 3/16 miles (see picks above)
13th race – $28k Maiden – 1 1/16 miles on the TURF
#13 – Whata Soandso (20-1)
#9 – Sacred Soul (9-2)
#7 – Enchanted Circle (5-2)