Happy Preakness day! Later this evening Always Dreaming will burst out of the gate trying to become a dual-classic winner. If successful, it will set up an exciting three-week leadup to the Belmont Stakes. With a local ownership group behind a horse going for the Triple Crown, the Belmont would surely be a can’t-miss event. However, nine challengers stand in their way, so it is sure to be a challenging task.
Without further ado, here are my picks and analysis for the full 14-race card at Pimlico, including the 142nd running of the Preakness Stakes in race 13. Best of luck!
Best Bet: #5 Pretty Perfection, Race 5
Longshot of the day: #8 Nice Tune, Race 2
Race 1: 1-6-5-2
#1 CONNEMARA COAST came off the pace for the first time in a while to capture a second-place finish last time out at this level. In the money four of five times at Pimlico, and the only horse in the field to own a prior win over the course. #6 KAITAIN may be more involved early with the addition of blinkers. Back to dirt today after a turf trip last time out. #5 SPRING QUALITY has had major gaps in-between races, but will now string together three in a row. #2 GHOST BAY stretches back out after a try sprinting over turf. Should be on the scene late at a solid price.
Race 2: 8-6-4
#8 NICE TUNE owns a number of turf races that fit with this group and has often encountered trouble in those spins. Could improve with a clean trip and should offer a solid price, even after key scratches. #6 GREY FOX has hit the exacta in both tries over the Pimlico course, but may need a race off the layoff. #4 KEEP TALKING faces older horses for the first time. Geroux sticks to end the jockey carousel, and hits at 32% with trainer Proctor.
Race 3: 8-5-1-6
#8 FLIGHT PATTERN has done well at the distance, and should come running late. #5 MORAL HIGH GROUND has done great at Pimlico, owning six exacta finishes from nine career local starts. #1 DESERT PRINESS returns to the turf, where she has been consistent Beyer-wise. #6 SEEING’N’BELIEVING should push the pace and has a chance to get loose on the lead while getting back to the turf for the first time this year.
Race 4: 2-5-3-7
#2 SUPER DUDE battled back in the stretch to score in his debut, which was at a mile. Barn keeps runners in good form, but this guy must tackle winners for the first time today. #5 DHARMASTER has improved along the Beyer scale every start of his career, wasn’t far behind a multiple stakes winner last time out. #3 JAMMINWITHBRANDON raced well vs. winners last time out, but gave up the lead late after tracking a heated pace. #7 CONFEDERATE tired at longer against the Derby winner two back. Now back to a more comfortable distance.
Race 5: 5-6-10-2
#5 PRETTY PERFECTION should come rolling late after sitting behind what projects to be a torrid pace. Caught exceptionally wide last time out, but should rebound today. #6 ANIMAL APPEAL should be the at the top of that early charge. Is used to carrying her speed longer, so should appreciate this 5-furlong trip. Comes off the layoff, but trainer Englehart hits at 30% off the break. #10 ROYAL RENEGE could benefit from the early pace scenario, but has run well at this distance and should be a fair value. #2 EVERYTHING LOVELY was run down by the top choice last time out, and makes her second start of the year today.
Race 6: 1-15-9-10-6
#1 JOSE SEA VIEW’s better races have come over the turf, and he should enjoy today’s inside position. #15 BARNEY REBEL draws in on the far outside, but shouldn’t mind the position with his plodding style. In the money all three times at Pimlico. #9 RACETRACK ROMANCE gets back to the turf, where he has enjoyed some past success. Should track the pace throughout. #10 NORTH OCEAN tries the green for the first time after 42 career starts, but should be able to take to it as a son of Street Cry. #6 HERE’S JOHNNY drops off the claim. Pace factor, but this may be pushing his distance limits.
Race 7: 1-8-7-5
#1 THREE RULES owns a tactical foot, but has speed to flash from this inside post. Five for nine in his career, now returns to a sprint after pushing the pace along the Derby trail. #8 THEORY looked stellar breaking his maiden first time out by 5 1/2 at Saratoga last summer, but has tailed off since. Should appreciate the return to this six-furlong distance. #7 RECRUITING READY paired up 95 Beyers in his last two. Has kept good company in his career, but must repeat those max-efforts today. #5 PROFORMA should get a strong pace to track today, but must come home quicker to grab a piece today.
Race 8: 6-10-4-2
#6 YOSHIDA just broke his maiden off the layoff, but Mott sees fit to try him in this spot. Tactical runner, and don’t doubt the Hall of Fame trainer. #10 ADONIS CREED improved with the addition of blinkers last time out, and now adds the services of Velazquez. Barn keeps runners in good form. #4 DOVER CLIFFS should sit just behind the leaders and pounce at the right time with Ortiz aboard. #2 TOTAL TAP gets back to the turf and should benefit from today’s pace scenario.
Race 9 (The Maryland Sprint – Grade 3): 4-5-6-3
#4 A.P. INDIAN should improve second off the layoff, and when in top form he his one of the best sprinters in the country. Owns five wins from eight starts at this six-furlong distance. #5 WHITMORE should sit just behind the frontrunners early and get first run on the closers. At the top of his game this year. #6 HOLY BOSS was no match for Whitmore in his last two, but if able to regain his top form would be able to factor here. #3 NEVER GONE SOUTH gets back to the dirt after a turf tuneup last time out. Was at the top of his game before that, but needs his very best today.
Race 10 (The Gallorette – Grade 3): 2-7-6-10
#2 ZIPESSA is probably better-suited to this shorter distance. Tired last time out at Belmont, but likely needed that one off the winter break. Should be on the pace early and throughout today. #7 ELYSEA’S WORLD is in her best form for Chad Brown, but must close the gap with 1/16 less ground than normal. #6 ON LEAVE makes her first start off the winter layoff, but should be another on the scene late. #10 CAMBODIA goes second off the layoff and faces a class test here, but will try to get first run on the closers.
Race 11: 9-2-5-1
#9 TIME TO TRAVEL adds lasix for the first time today. Should push the pace after facing the Peter Pan exacta finishers earlier this spring. #2 HEDGE FUND has improved along the Beyer scale each start this year. Just nipped at the wire last time out against one of today’s Preakness runners. #5 NO MO DOUGH has encountered trouble in all three career starts. Should get a solid clip to run at today and could improve with a clean trip. #1 HONOR THE FLEET has won two in a row, but was the odds-on favorite in both. Faces a class test today.
Race 12 (The Dixie – Grade 2): 10-4-7-8
#10 RING WEEKEND nearly won this event off a year-long layoff last year. Sometimes breaks slow, but regains Velazquez today. PROJECTED bested a pair of next-out winners last time out. Owns a strong tactical foot and hopes Rosario times the move right again. BLACKTYPE should come running late with Ortiz aboard. In the money all six times at this distance, with three wins. CATAPULT faces a class test, but has been improved ever since the addition of blinkers. Castellano takes up the mount, and he’s 2-for-3 aboard.
Race 13 (The Preakness – Grade 1): 5-9-1-10
#5 CLASSIC EMPIRE endured a brutal trip in the Derby, slammed at the start and pushed out again in the stretch while covered in mud throughout. With drying conditions in store and a field half the size today, Classic Empire turns the tables and captures the second jewel of the Triple Crown. #9 LOOKIN AT LEE was the only horse to make up ground in the Derby stretch, but did so along a wide open rail. I don’t think that move was all due to the path, as he closed in from the back of the pack. Less ground to cover today, but likely a better position for this determined runner. #1 MULTIPLIER would benefit greatly from an early speed duel between Always Dreaming and Conquest Mo Money. We’ll get a solid idea of how he might run today based on how Illinois Derby runner-up Hedge Fund does in today’s 11th race, so I may adjust his position based on that outcome. Any improvement gets him in the mix at a huge price, and the pilot switch to Rosario doesn’t hurt. #10 CONQUEST MO MONEY should once again flash his speed from the outside. The outcome of the race will hinge on how the horses are placed headed into the first turn, but Conquest Mo Money is the most likely early leader. Whether Always Dreaming pushes the pace alongside is another question, but the Derby winner is likely not to have a clear trip on the lead again today. Distance is the only question for Conquest Mo Money, but this tenacious runner should be in the picture at fair odds.
Race 14: 8-4-9
#8 CLASSIC WILDCAT should get a great pace setup today. Loves the Pimlico track, owning a five-for-eight record over the course. #4 RISKY GUY has often broken slow, but should be a contender here with a clean trip. #9 HUNGER came back to win off the three year layoff. New trainer hits at 20% off the claim.