Trainer Michael Matz announced yesterday that Union Rags will skip the Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico on May 19.
The colt had a terrible trip as my top pick in the Kentucky Derby and made a belated rally to finish seventh as the 5-1 second choice in the field of twenty.
Matz told the Bloodhorse, “It’s a long year and I just don’t think it’s necessary to bring him back in two weeks if he doesn’t have a chance at the Triple Crown.”
Matz said no decision has been made regarding the Belmont Stakes (G1) on June 9.
The defection still leaves more than 14 runners being pointed toward the second jewel of the Triple Crown.
Kentucky Derby winner I’ll Have Another got his first taste of the Pimlico main track on Wednesday morning, jogging around the sloppy surface once
“He got over the ground really well, his ears were pricked and he was full of energy,” assistant trainer Jack Sisterson said.
Even with the defection of Union Rags, seven other runners that finished behind I’ll Have Another are likely going to be in the starting gate for the Preakness.
It seems a certainty that Derby runner up Bodemeister is going to be the morning line favorite and the likely betting choice.
Dullahan, Creative Cause and Went the Day Well each should get some betting action.
The connections of Trinniberg said they would head to Pimlico from Calder if Bodemeister does not run in the Preakness.
However at this point trainer Bob Baffert looks likely to start the Derby runner up and the colt figures to be the pacesetter.
Churchill Downs is back in action today, and with rain falling overnight in New York I am expecting the races to come off the turf at Belmont Park today.
My Best Plays Report for Thursday includes my seven strongest plays from Belmont Park and Churchill Downs.
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Here is today’s opening from Belmont Park to get the day off to a good start:
BEL Race 1 Alw $62,000N1X (12:50 ET)
2 Camp Topridge 8-1
1 Goodtime Boy / 1a Willy Beamin 5-2
11 Wishingonastar 3-1
12 Our Eli 4-1
Analysis: Camp Topridge gets the call and with more rain in the forecast overnight I am assuming we are off the turf again today. Our top pick was outrun in the early going on the grass at the Big A and made up some ground late to finish sixth, beaten 2 3/4 lengths. The gelding broke his maiden on the main track at Laurel Park going a mile and the switch back to the main track may suit this guy as he makes his second start off the claim by the Brown barn.
Goodtime Boy was beaten just a nose last out on turf versus $25K non-winners of two and his stablemate Willy Beamin beat 25K claimers last out on the main track at the Big A. They both makes their first starts here for the Tricky Rick barn that is 29% winners first off the claim.
WIN: #2 to win at 7-2 or better.
EX: 1,2 / 1,2,11,12
TRI: 1,2 / 1,2,11,12 / 1,2,7,11,12
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Belmont Park:
BEL Race 8 The Diablo (4:34 ET)
6 Jersey Town 5-2
4 Travelin Man 2-1
1 This Ones for Phil 7-2
7 Royal Currier 8-1
Analysis: Jersey Town came up a half-length short of or second choice in here last out in the Sir Shackleton, which was his first start since running sixth in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1) last fall at Churchill Downs. It was better than five lengths back to the rest of the field and this guy should move forward in his second start off the bench for the Tagg barn. He has not seen the winners circle since taking the '10 Cigar Mile (G1) but looks like a good fit here.
Travelin Man earned a solid fig in his win last out and it was his third triple digit Beyer in eight career starts. He did regress in his next starts after posting his first two so the possibility is there for another regression. The colt owns a solid pace profile throughout and will be tough if he runs back to his last effort, but I am hoping our top pick is going to offer a bit more value for the top spot.
WIN: #6 to win at 2-1 or better.
EX: 4,6 / 1,4,6,7
TRI: 4,6 / 1,4,6,7 / 1,4,5,6,7
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Churchill Downs:
CD Race 8 Alw $55,300N1X (4:29 ET)
6 He's So Proud 5-1
5 Neck 'n Neck 7-5
2 Quiet Man 5-1
3 Big Town 7-2
Analysis: He's So Proud was outrun in the early going, came up the inside and then angled to the outside in the stretch and grabbed a short lead but could not hold off the winner late in a game runner up finish. The third place finisher in the race was Regions Reward, who came back to beat Alw-1 foes in his next outing at Louisiana Downs on May 5. The gelding is one of three in here that has beaten winners and looks like a good fit here.
Neck 'n Neck mixed it up in stakes company in his last three starts after a runner up finish against Alw-1 optional claimers in his first go against winners. Last out the colt tracked the early pace and weakened to finish fifth in the Florida Derby (G1) last out. The colt's last pair of speed figs are a good fit here as he drops back into the allowance ranks.
WIN: #6 to win at 7-2 or better.
EX: 5,6 / 2,3,5,6
TRI: 5,6 / 2,3,5,6 / 2,3,5,6,7
These are price plays for exotic players looking to find a couple of extra contenders to use in their trifecta and superfecta wagers. Or for those with smaller bankrolls, you might want to get in a small win-place wager.
R1: #6 Sofia and Mia 15-1
R3: #5 My Daughter’s Song 10-1
R4: #6 Primo 10-1
R7: #8 Seguro 8-1
R9: #4 Theodore’s Cash 8-1
R9: #7 Power Key 10-1
Good luck today!