Preakness Stakes Day is here, and I promise not to mention you know who once in today’s column. The focus all week has been on you know who and I am sick and tired of talking about you know who.
It’s been exhausting.
Instead let’s talk about 14 races on the Pimlico card this afternoon, nine of them stakes races. The action kicks off at 10:30am ET, and while there will not be 100,000 crazy fans at Pimlico today, at least there will be a crowd, estimated at about 10,000 due to the ongoing pandemic restrictions in Maryland.
In addition, we have an 11-race card at Belmont Park, so that is 25 races I have handicapped for this afternoon with my selections, analysis and fair odds line.
I do have to warn you that you know who has the 2-5 morning line favorite in the opener at Pimlico, but them let’s not talk about him again for eight hours until post time of the Preakness which is set for 6:47 ET on NBC.
Instead let’s focus on cashing tickets today, and we can go back to complaining about you know who on Monday.
My Preakness Stakes Package is now available with my selections, analysis and fair odds line for all 14 races on the card. My Best Plays Report for Saturday includes my 11 strongest plays from Belmont Park and Pimlico.
The Preakness Day action will be televised at 2:00 to-5:00 ET on NBCSN, and then from 5:00 to 7:30 on NBC. “America’s Day at the Races” on FS2 today is from 2:00 to 2:30 ET and 4:30 to 6:30 with the action from Belmont Park. TVG is offering new players up to a $300 Risk Free wager. In addition, AmWager is offering up to a $500 bonus for new horseplayers.
To purchase my Belmont Park, Pimlico and Best Plays Reports for Saturday click here.
Now is the perfect time to purchase my Monthly Package. It gives you a month of Belmont Park Reports daily and my Best Plays Report each Saturday and Sunday as well as my Preakness Stakes Day reports.
Here is the opener from Belmont Park to get the day off to a good start:
BELMONT PARK 1 ANALYSIS (1:00 P.M. ET)
Race 1 OClm $50,000N2X
#4 Finding Fame 8-5
#1 Stand for the Flag 3-1
#2 Alandra 2-1
#5 Flashndynamite 6-1
Analysis: Shug has a pair in here and the nod goes to Finding Fame who came off a layoff last out and weakened in the stretch to finish fifth against a solid group of Alw-2 optional claimers at Gulfstream Park going a mile. The winner Lake Avenue was one of three to exit the race to come back and win, taking the Heavenly Prize in her next outing. Now this gal comes back off a three-month break and she will appreciate the added furlong here. She showed some promise last year winning her first two starts including passing her first condition at a one turn mile.
Stand for the Flag has the best shot of breaking up an all-Shug exacta. The filly tracked the early pace and could not get to the loose on the lead gate to wire winner last out. She was 4 1/2 lengths clear of the rest of the field. She has been the beaten chalk in her last pair and has landed in the money in four straight starts without winning. Carmouche gets the call from Atras and she may actually end up a fair price in this compact field of five.
PIMLICO RACE 8 ANALYSIS (3:25 P.M. ET)
Race 9 The Skipat
#8 French Empire 3-1
#5 Chub Wagon 8-5
#6 Dontletsweetfoolya 6-1
#2 Casual 9-2
Analysis: French Empire comes in here riding a four race winning streak. It appears this guy was privately purchased and goes today for the Cox barn that is 26% winners with newcomers to the barn. Last out the mare beat allowance foes that were non winners of a stake in 2020-21 or non-winners of $55,000 in 2020-21. She was claimed for just $20,000 last September and the Contreras barn turned this gal around and she comes in here off a career top speed fig and going to Cox. She owns a solid pace profile throughout and looks as if she can keep her streak going.
Chub Wagon is perfect in her five starts, last out winning the Pa bred Unique Bella in gate to wire fashion, drawing off to win by 7 1/2 length. She earned a career top speed fig two back at Aqueduct beating Alw-2 optional claimers wiring the field. She did catch a racing strip that day that was kind to inside speed. She faces a bit tougher here and she will not have it easy early as there are several in here that can mix it up early.
PIMLICO RACE 11 ANALYSIS (4:41 P.M. ET)
Race 11 The Maryland Sprint Match Series G3
#5 Strike Power 7-2
#8 Special Reserve 9-2
#1 Laki 6-1
#7 Breezy Gust 6-1
Analysis: Strike Power pressed the early pace and weakened to finish fourth in the Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) last out at Oaklawn Park. That was a tough field led by C Z Rocket and Whitmore, the latter coming back to run third in the Churchill Downs (G1), beaten a couple of heads. The third-place finisher in the Count Fleet was Empire of Gold who came back to beat optional claimers in his next start at Oaklawn Park with a 96 Beyer. Two back our top picked a near career top speed fig in a sharp win versus Alw-3 optional claimers. The third and fourth place finishers exited that race to win next out. The Asmussen trainee owns a solid pace profile throughout and he reunites with Santana who was aboard him for his win two back and this group is not as tough as he faced last out.
Special Reserve set the early fractions and was not able to hold off the winner late in a runner up finish in the Commonwealth (G3) last out at Keeneland. The winner was Flagstaff, who came back to win the Churchill Downs (G1) in his next outing on May 1. Maker claimed this guy for just $40,000 three back and he beat optional claimers in his first start for the barn. The five-year-old has earned his three best figures in his last three starts and while he was on the lead in his last two, he showed three back he does not need the lead and there is plenty of early zip signed up in this spot. With Irad up he figures to be sitting just off the pace which might be the right strategy here.
BELMONT PARK 10 ANALYSIS (5:52 P.M. ET)
Race 10 The Soaring Softly G3
#2 Sleek Lynx 10-1
#10 Invincible Gal 6-1
#6 Tobys Heart 5-2
#1 Candace O 10-1
Analysis: Sleek Lynx cuts back to seven furlongs after tracking a slow early pace and finishing evenly in a third-place finish in the Memories of Silver at Aqueduct. I thought Junior should have been more aggressive early coming off a five-furlong sprint two back where she rallied to finish fifth, beaten two lengths. She makes her third start off the bench here for the Casse barn and her maiden score came at six furlongs. The barn thought enough of her to run in the Natalma (G1) last September in her second career start off a runner up finish in her debut. She may appreciate seven furlongs and is going to be a decent price in this spot. She is out of a Montjeau mare that has dropped two other turf winners.
Invincible Gal makes her three-year-old debut here for the Motion barn that is 14% winners with runners returning off a 61–180-day break. She ran good seconds in the Sorority and Selima last year and then drew a bum post in the Breeders' Cup juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) where she finished 11th. She came back with a good late run to finish second in the Tepin at Aqueduct over good ground going a mile. She should be fit off works at Fair Hill and seven furlongs seems as if it should suit her.
These are price plays for exotic players looking to find a couple of extra contenders to use in their Pick 4 and Pick 5 wagers. Or for those with smaller bankrolls, you might want to get in a small win wager.
R7 #5 Ravizzol 8-1
R8: #5 Epona’s Dream 10-1
R8: #1 Gallina 20-1
R10: #2 Sleek Lynx 10-1
R10: #1 Candace O
R11: #12 Strong Desire 12-1
Good luck today!