It has rained all week in Baltimore, Maryland where the second leg of thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown will be run at Pimlico Racecourse at 6:48 tonight. More rain and thunderstorms are in the forecast tomorrow, and the one safe bet is that the races will be run in a sea of slop.
The next safest bet is that there will be a Triple Crown on the line when this elite crop of 3yos tackles 12 furlongs in Elmont, NY three weeks from today. Justify dominated the opposition over a sloppy surface at Churchill Downs, making him 2 for 2 over wet tracks. He faces just 7 opponents in the Preakness, and the overall quality of the field pales in comparison to the 19 he faced in Louisville.
Horseplayers will be faced with a challenging set of circumstances – figuring out which horses are likely to excel over the poor track conditions and trying to create value around a very heavy favorite in the feature race. Here are a few, hopefully helpful, suggestions in navigating your way through the races that make up the pick 6.
Race 8 – Chick Lang
Look no further than Mitole here. He is miles better than the rest of these. He can adapt to any pace scenario and should dominate this field – a solid single to kick off the pick 6 sequence.
Race 9 – Galorette
Pimlico has protected the inner portion of the turf course all week, so the expectation here is that the turf stakes will indeed be run on the lawn. Blessed Silence makes her second stateside start for Christophe Clement and should improve with the recent outing. She has the most experience on soft tracks due to her 14 race career in France where she performed honestly enough on softer going. Cambodia won this race last year over a course labeled “good”, but she was a well beaten 6th in her 6yo debut and may not offer much value as the 8/5 morning line favorite. Ultra Brat and Elysea’s World are both logical fillies to use here as well.
Race 10 – Maryland Sprint
Heartwood won over a sloppy track at Keeneland two races back and certainly deserves a solid look against this group at likely double digit odds. Switzerland needed 8 tries to break his maiden, but has been impressive since doing so. The worst race of his life came over a sloppy track, but he slipped at the break and lost all chance. Long Haul Bay took the Bay Shore at Aqueduct last year in impressive fashion, and his pedigree suggests he will relish the off going. With only 4 lifetime starts to his credit, he easily has the most upside in the field.
Race 11 – The Very One
Girls Know Best ran a monster race over a yielding course at Keeneland when defeating allowance foes by 6 lengths. She is certainly the one to beat. Smiling Causeway and Just Talkin are both plenty capable in this spot as well.
Race 12 – Sir Barton
Ax Man will dictate the pace from the outset, and if he can handle the sloppy going, should never look back.
Race 13 – Preakness
None of the new shooters in here appear capable of beating the Derby winner, or runner-up for that matter. As a general rule of thumb, the best 3yos run in the Derby. Horses running in the Preakness that did not participate in the Derby, for the most part, simply were not good enough to qualify. That certainly seems to be the case with this group. The two horses most likely to appreciate the track conditions – outside of Justify and Good Magic – are Quip and Diamond King. Neither has raced on anything other than a fast track, but their pedigrees suggest the slop may be to their liking. Bravazo actually ran a decent race with a troubled trip in Louisville and could be a contender in the exotics with a better trip this time around. That said, don’t spend too much money trying to beat the Derby winner here. Sit back and enjoy another Bob Baffert Triple Crown bid.