Preakness Eve is upon us, and with it comes a stellar card Friday at Pimlico. It features seven stakes races and plenty of wagering opportunities. I’ve got four spot plays and three multi-race wagers, and I’ll dissect all of them below! One note: There is some rain in the forecast, and the analysis here assumes that all races carded for turf stay there.
RACE #5: #6 Carrumba (3-1)
This is the Allaire DuPont Distaff, and I’m far from in love with your likely favorite. That’s #4 Terra Promessa, a fantastic horse at Oaklawn Park and an ordinary one everywhere else. I prefer the aforementioned Carrumba, who makes her third start off a long layoff and adds blinkers for trainer Shug McGaughey. Her first two came around one turn, but some of her best work has come going longer, and more specifically, around two turns. Javier Castellano has signed on to ride, and I think she could sit a dream trip just off the pace.
RACE #7: ICE COLD EXACTAS
This is the Pimlico Special, and it features the heaviest favorite of the card. That’s #6 Shaman Ghost, one of the top handicap horses in the country. However, even with him being a prohibitive favorite, I think there’s a chance to make some money playing exactas, especially if you like a price underneath.
I like two of them, and I’ll be keying Shaman Ghost with both #9 Conquest Windycity and #10 Fellowship. Conquest Windycity ran away with an allowance at Keeneland and seems to have improved a great deal since a long layoff prior to his 4-year-old campaign, while Fellowship ran against Nyquist and Exaggerator last year before going to the bench. He came back with a sharp allowance win going seven furlongs at Laurel, and the presence of Joel Rosario is a big plus.
RACE #10: #6 Take Cover (15-1)
I’m taking a big swing in the Jim McKay Turf Sprint. My thinking is that there is a LOT of speed signed on, and that the race, even at five furlongs, sets up for a closer. Take Cover fits that mold. If you toss the Parx Dash, which came over a yielding turf course, he’s finished in the top two in five of his last six starts. That includes two starts at Laurel Park where he nearly overcame two disastrous outside posts. He’s coming off a layoff here, but the workouts look strong, and if he’s anywhere close to his morning line, I have to play him.
RACE #12: #8 Arbol (5-1)
This is another turf sprint, one with a full field. As such, we may get a bit of a price on Arbol, who gets Lasix for the first time in her second start following a brief freshening. She didn’t run particularly fast early on last out, but she ran furlongs three through five in :34 1/5, which is VERY quick. Naturally, she faded to finish fourth, but given the addition of Lasix and very little quality speed to her inside, I think improvement is in the cards on Friday.
$0.50 Pick Four: Race #4
60 bets, $30
This ticket is built around Carrumba, and if she does not win, we lose. The first race is wide-open, and it seems devoid of any early speed, so whichever horse gets out early may have a good chance to wire the field. Private Client and Lottie headline the fourth, and I’m using both horses, but don’t sleep on Notapradaprice, who seems like the main speed in the race. Finally, I’ll go four-deep in the last leg to close things out, and hopefully, this gives us a nice score to kick off Preakness weekend.
$0.50 Pick Five: Race #7
90 bets, $45
Given the presence of Shaman Ghost in the Pimlico Special, there’s no reason to play the middle Pick Four, which starts in the eighth. This will likely pay considerably more, and it costs the same amount of money given the opening-leg single. Victory to Victory and Compelled headline the Hilltop, and I’m using both, but watch out for Chubby Star, who beat a solid allowance field last out at Keeneland and hasn’t run a bad race this year. I’m spreading in the ninth, and while I was tempted to single Take Cover in the 10th, I had to also use Pay Any Price, whose races at Gulfstream have been very, very good. Finally, we’ll hope to get a closer home in the Black-Eyed Susan, which seems to set up for one given the ample early speed that’s signed on.
$0.50 Pick Four: Race #11
84 bets, $42
The structure of this ticket allows for more spreading in the Black-Eyed Susan, since I’m singling Arbol and only going two-deep in the Skipat (using Chanteline and Clipthecouponannie). That brings us to the finale, which is a total mess. I went seven-deep, and I hope that’s enough to get the winner home if we’re still alive.