Baltimore, Md. – The longest day of racing was off at 10:30 a.m. EDT this morning at Pimlico Race Course with a 14-race card highlighted by the Grade 1 Preakness Stakes.
The Preakness undercard has plenty of top flight horses running in a number of stakes races leading up to the $1.5 million Preakness Stakes. The stakes races preceding the Preakness will kickoff at 12:51 p.m. EDT with The Very One (Race 5). Race 12, the Grade 2 Longines Dixie is scheduled to go to post at 5:39 p.m.
The NBC Sports network begins their coverage (Ch. 220, DirecTV) at 2:30 p.m. and will switch over to the flagship NBC network at 5 p.m. The Preakness (Race 13) goes to post at 6:48 p.m. with 10 horses looking to claim the second leg of the American Triple Crown. My Preakness advance projects a big showdown between Derby winner 4-Always Dreaming and last year’s 2-year-old champion 5-Classic Empire.
Post Time: Always Dreaming races for second jewel at Pimlico https://t.co/0smn62OUBW
— Gene Kershner (@EquiSpace) May 20, 2017
The track is rated muddy and the turf course rates as good this morning, but both are likely to be upgraded as the day goes on. The Baltimore metropolitan area took some decent rain last night, but conditions should be dry and comfortable, with temperatures in the mid sixties most of the day.
Yesterday was highlighted by big wins by Shaman Ghost in the Grade 3 Pimlico Special and Actress on a sloppy surface in the Black-Eyed Susan.
The Maryland Jockey Club reported record attendance and total handle on yesterday’s Black-Eyed Susan Day, card. Friday’s attendance was a record 50,339, topping the previous mark of 47,956 set last year. Total handle on the 14-race program was a record $19.895 million, a 6-percent increase over last year’s previous record total handle of $18.661 million.
Here’s a capsule look at the four stakes races heading into the Preakness, making up a Pick-5, ending in Race 13, the 142nd running of the Preakness.
Race 9 – Maryland Sprint (G3) – 6 furlongs (Dirt) – 3:27 p.m. EDT
The $150,000 Maryland Sprint looks like a two-horse race between the red hot 5-Whitmore (9-5) and the morning line favorite 4-A.P. Indian (8-5). Whitmore is 3-for-3 at the distance and has impressed since his connections cut him back in distance. A.P. Indian is a steady horse making his second start of the year. Rajiv Maragh will ride 2-Classy Class (10-1) for Kiaran McLaughlin and is a consideration underneath the main two. The 7-year-old 6-Holy Boss (6-1) has a win over the surface.
Post Time Outlook: 1 – Whitmore; 2 – A.P. Indian; 3 –Classy Class; 4 –Holy Boss
Race 10 – The Gallorette Stakes (G3) 1 1/16 miles (Turf) – 4:07 p.m. EDT
The 66th running of the $150,000 Gallorette sprint has attracted a field of nine fillies and mares, three-year-olds and upward. Chad Brown sends out 7-Elysea’s World (5-2) in attempts to rid her of seconditis. Two straight second-place finishes in graded stakes company in Florida have her sitting on a big race. 3-Danilovna (6-1) will have local jock Trevor McCarthy in the irons for Graham Motion. The daughter of Dansili moves up in class and is usable at her morning line odds. 6-On Leave (2-1) is the chalk, but makes her first start of the year. 10-Cambodia (8-1) gets top turf jockey Florent Geroux aboard looking for her first graded win.
Post Time Outlook: 1 – Elysea’s World; 2 –Danilovna; 3 –On Leave; 4 –Cambodia
Race 11 – Sir Barton (NG) – 1 1/16 miles (Dirt) – 4:43 p.m. EDT
The $100,000 Sir Barton will be run on the main track has nine entries of three-year-olds. 6-Watch Me Whip (12-1) is my upset pick of the day. The son of Smart Strike out of a Deputy Minister mare has the stamina to go a route of distance and impressed in his maiden win at Keeneland. It will be his first race at two turns for trainer Dale Romans. Michael Matz sends out 9-Time to Travel (7-2) with lasix for the first time in four career races. Hall of Famer John Velazquez will ride. The morning line favorite is 2-Hedge Fund (2-1) with the Pletcher/Castellano combination winning 37 percent of the last 60 races they have raced together. 7-True Timber (8-1) should enjoy some class relief after running on the Derby trail prep cycle.
Post Time Outlook: 1 –Watch Me Whip; 2 –Time to Travel; 3 –Hedge Fund; 4 –True Timber
Race 12 – Longines Dixie (G2) – 1 1/16 miles (Turf) – 5:39 p.m. EDT
The $250,000 Dixie has 10 older horses pointed to the gates in the prelim to the Preakness. Flo Geroux hops aboard 1-Security Risk (12-1) and will look to steal it on the front end for Shug McGaughey and Phipps Stable. 4-Projected (3-1) is logical running third off the layoff for Brown. Christophe Clement sends 7-Blacktype (4-1) postward after a very good Makers Mark. The fifth-place finish at Keeneland is deceiving and he’ll be coming late. Grade 1 winner 2-World Approval (7-2) scratched out of the Woodford Reserve on Derby day due to the soft ground.
Post Time Outlook: 1 – Security Risk; 2 –Projected; 3 –Blacktype; 4 –World Approval
Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.