Selections for Opening Day at Pimlico

April 17, 2010 | Gary Quill

Let’s put the O’s problems in the back of our mind, at least until tonight, and take in what’s good in the Baltimore sports community. Today should be a cause for celebration across the Baltimore metropolitan area. For today live Maryland thoroughbred horse racing has come “home” to historic Pimlico Race Course, be it only for 20 glorious racing days. Local horse racing enthusiasts view Opening Day at Pimlico as a barometer that Spring has officially arrived.


Yours truly will be hanging around the Pimlico Grandstand apron, enjoying a few $2 hot dogs and $2 beers. I will be happy to give a “got horse racing?” window decal to the first ten (10) people who locate me (wearing a WNST black cap) and say, “Hey GQ, got horse racing?”.

got horse racing window decal

Over the next six weeks, Pimlico will conduct live racing Thursday through Sunday, headlined by the 135th running of the $1 million Preakness Stakes (Grade I), the middle jewel of the Triple Crown, on May 15th. The 20-day stand will conclude on Saturday, May 22nd. First post for 17 days of the meet will be 1:10pm with adjustments on Kentucky Derby Day (May 1st; 12:45pm), Black-Eyed Susan Day (May 14th; 12:15pm) and on Preakness Day (10:45am).


The meet will feature the debut of a new wager, an All Turf Pick 3, where bettors must pick the winner of three consecutive (turf) races. This wager will end the card (i.e. last 3 races) on every Saturday of the Meet (except on Preakness Day).


For each day of this 20 day meet, I will post a blog offering up my opinions, as I have done below. As an added item, I’ll feature what I call “SHOW Parlay Play of the Day”. I’ll start with a mythical $100 bankroll, using $20 of it to start the parlay. I figure the odds of sustaining a single SHOW parlay play for 20 consecutive racing days is slim. Therefore, we’ll have a reserve to tap into if/when a play loses.


A note for novices, when you bet to SHOW, it means your horse must finish 1st, 2nd or 3rd. Your payoff is the price posted under the SHOW column. A parlay means whatever the return is on your wager; you bet that entire amount on the next bet (i.e. “let it ride”).


For the Pimlico Spring Meet, Day 1 (Saturday, April 17th)…


Best Bet:   Indian Dance  (# 7; 9th race on turf Henry S. Clark Stakes; 3-1)


This 4 year old gelded son of Indian Charlie has never raced on the grass, but his bloodlines have accomplished turf runners on both sides. It’s a tall order to try a different surface in stakes company, but that indicates to me trainer Lawrence Murray (wins at 22%) is confident in his runner. The fact that Indian Dance is jockey Luis Garcia’s only mount on the card seals the deal for me.


Longshot:    Stellar Ambition (# 8; 10th race on the turf; 30-1)


In handicapping the card, I didn’t find many Morning Line Longshots (5-1 or higher). So using the “Go Big or Go Home” philosophy, here’s a potential bomb. His 30-1 M/L is warranted because he’s won 2 of 15 starts. Both came on an off track. He’s 0 for 6 in grass starts and he ran 5th in both of his 2010 outings on the dirt in $15k and $25k NW3L. On the positive side, he competed against better (Allowance company) when running on the turf, so I see a chance for him to surprise in this $25k NW3L turf contest.    


SHOW Parlay available bankroll: $100When starting a SHOW parlay, you’re looking for a good return to establish a base to build on which also means it is your riskiest selection. As a rule, we should find a large field (8 or more starters) and avoid the favorite. With this being said, let’s go!


SHOW Parlay Play of the Day:  $20 on Pink Sand (# 9; 8th race on turf; 9-2) There’s a full field of 12 going here which will make the SHOW payoffs attractive even for the lower odds runners. Pink Sand makes her 3rd career start, 1st on the grass. The fact she was entered in a turf race for her first career race (Oct. ’09), but was taken off the sod due to weather conditions, which she won anyway and prior to that she spent the Summer training on Saratoga’s grass course and she gets the services of the best turf rider (Horatio Karamanos) on the Pimlico grounds…Baa-Dah-Bing, we’ve got our pick.


In races of national interest, the 9th race at Keeneland is the $300,000 Coolmore Lexington Stakes. Though it’s labeled as a Derby Prep race, there is only one horse (Connemara) who by winning would crack into the Top 20 Graded Stakes Money List, making him eligible to enter the Kentucky Derby. His trainer Todd Pletcher has already stated that the Derby is not in Connemara’s future plans, so this race becomes a no factor as far as the Derby is concerned. If you handicapped this race, you may want to give a second look to the following… #4 – Bushwhacked (12-1 M/L), #5 – Call Shot (10-1) and #6 – Prince Will I Am (30-1).


It’s a beautiful day to go to Opening Day at Old Hilltop. If you have other plans, then make it a point to go on one of the other 19 days. You might actually find yourself having fun. Good Luck!