PIMLICO PICKS AND PONDERINGS: May 20, 2022
In which we pick the races from Pimlico each day…
Post time: 11:30 a.m.
Carryovers: Rainbow Jackpot Pick 6 — $9,314 Super High 5 — $0 Late Pick 5 — $0
Check out our other handicapping here!
RACE 1: ALLOWANCE (N/W1X), 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 5 FURLONGS (GRASS)
Welcome to Black-Eyed Susan day! 14 races on the schedule; let’s jump right in. #7 Never Satisfied (8/1) recovered well from a bad start and missed by just half a length at Gulfstream Park last out. He’ll make his first start for Damon Dilodovico here and adds linkers. #4 Fomo (10/1) ran far and away a career-best brisnet speed figure of 82 last out when he set the pace and held on for third at Belmont Park. That was his first start since last October. Will be interesting to see if he uses speed again or comes from just off the pace, like he did last fall. If he decides to go to the front, he’ll likely run into #9 Detroit City (4/1), a promising colt for Jack Sisterson. Last fall, he ran figures in the mid-80s against stakes company, which weren’t good enough for those races but are very competitive against these. If he’s ready to go first off the bench he’ll be very tough.
RACE 2: MAIDEN CLAIMING $40,000, 3, 4, AND 5-YEAR-OLDS, FILLIES AND MARES, 6 FURLONGS
#8 Miss Midnight (8/1) is a proven speed threat in a field of largely unknown quantities. In her last start last November at Charles Town, she led most of the way and got caught late. James Lawrence isn’t great with horses first off the layoff, but she’s been working well and will be a great price. #1 Run Raegan Run (8/5) cost $87,000 at auction last year and now debuts for less than half that for Brittany Russell. Her workouts have been very sharp and she gets to face a soft field here. #2 Saint Eros Girl (5/2) also sold for a big number last year, going for $100,000 at the Ocala Breeder’s Sale. She worked all winter at Oaklawn Park for Ron Moquett, who puts Tyler Gaffalione in the saddle for her debut. She appears well-meant; watch the board on her.
- Jockey Sheldon Russell “really close” to return to racesJockey Sheldon Russell, out with injuries for the last nine months, is “really close” to returning to the races, his agent said.
RACE 3: ALLOWANCE (N/W1X), 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 1 1/16 MILES (GRASS)
#6 Royne (8/1) has been very consistent on grass, running between a 77 and an 81 in each of his five grass starts. He bounced back solidly last out in his first off a three-month layoff for Michael Dickinson. Irad Ortiz Jr picks up the mount, which is definitely an encouraging sign. #10 Never Explain (7/2) gets Flavien Prat aboard for Shug McGaughey, who hits at 27% with his grass starters in Maryland. He ran in the mid-80s consistently last year but hasn’t raced since last September. He hopes to not get stuck behind a slow pace and thread his way through traffic. #4 King Vega (3/1) raced wide throughout and flattened out in his first start in the United States for Graham Motion. Motion is off to a strong start at the Pimlico meet, with three wins from his first four starters. He’s likely to get overbet but is a must-use in the exotics.
RACE 4: ALLOWANCE OPTIONAL CLAIMING (N/W1X), 3-YEAR-OLDS, 1 1/16 MILES
#1 Uncle Irish (4/1) races for the Jamie Ness/Jaime Rodriguez combination, which has been near-automatic in Maryland lately. He’s been close against these types several times but stepped up to a 96 in a game runner-up effort last out. The horse he lost to, The Addison Pour, is racing in the Sir Barton Stakes tomorrow. #8 Heffner (5/1) goes first off the claim for Ned Allard. He has lots of early speed and looks fast enough to clear to the lead and the rail from the outside post. From there, he’ll be in control. #3 Rustys Gfivefifty (3/1) hasn’t missed the board in his last seven starts and crushed claimers in his last two races. This is a step up in class, but at least he should get a great stalking trip. Jeiron Barbosa was dominant at the Laurel Park spring meet and looks to get back on track after a slow start to the Pimlico season.
RACE 5: ALLOWANCE OPTIONAL CLAIMING (N/W1X), 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 5 FURLONGS (GRASS)
#2 Vulcan (9/2) is another selection in which I’m putting my trust in Jamie Ness. This gelding is making his first start for the Ness barn and his first start on grass. He went gate-to-wire at Oaklawn Park last out and has abundant early speed. If he takes to this surface at all, he should be able to run them off their feet. #10 Like What I See (6/1) also has lots of early speed but did not get an ideal draw, having drawn several paths to the outside of Vulcan. The outside draw wasn’t a deterrent last fall at the Meadowlands, where he set the pace while wide and held on, but that was also against a softer field than the one he’ll see today. #8 Coop Tries Harder (4/1) steadily ran in the 80s over the winter in Florida in his first starts back from a layoff of almost a year. He’s been working well at Delaware Park and ships in here to get a race in before their meet starts. He’ll take advantage if the leaders tire.
RACE 6: ALLOWANCE (N/W1X), 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, FILLIES AND MARES, 6 FURLONGS
#5 Awfully Foxy (5/1) won impressively against starter optional claiming types two races back, then closed well of a mild pace going a mile and finished second last out. She’ll make her first start off an eleven-week break and looks like the strongest closer in the race. #6 Tweet Away Robin (6/1) has shown speed and faded in her last few starts, but gets to face a pretty easy n/w1x field here and is one of the few who can consistently run in the mid-80s. #1 R B’s Star (15/1) ran a very solid 82 in her first start off a long break last out, hanging around for fourth while making a mild bid in the stretch. She has every chance to get in the trifecta or the superfecta at a big number.
- BackTracks: Challedon, dominant in Maryland & beyondIn today’s BackTracks, Maryland-bred Challedon became the first two-time horse of the year after dominating 1939 and 1940.
RACE 7: ALLOWANCE OPTIONAL CLAIMING (N/W2X), 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 1 1/16 MILES (GRASS)
#11 Healing (3/1) is well-traveled this year, having won his last three starts at three different tracks. He doesn’t have much early speed, but he always grinds on late and gets up in the last few jumps. Gaffalione has won twice on him this year already, so he should be able to avoid trouble and give him the best chance possible. #2 Mandate (4/1) was no match for the dominant Chez Pierre in the Henry Clark Stakes last out, but he closed well after a wide trip and got second. He made waves last year when he won the Artie Schiller Stakes at 44/1. He’s another one who will be coming from the clouds. #1 English Tavern (8/1) got a prep race in on dirt last out and was no factor after not being able to settle. He gets back to his preferred surface and should be rolling late at a good price.
RACE 8: ALLAIRE DUPONT DISTAFF STAKES, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, FILLIES AND MARES, 1 1/16 MILES
Let the stakes action begin! Allaire DuPont was a major owner and breeder in the mid-Atlantic for decades. She’s best known for campaigning five-time Horse of the Year Kelso. Note that the rainbow pick 6 begins here, not in race 9. #1 Exotic West (3/1) has been getting better with every start and put it all together last out with a dramatic win in the Top Flight Invitational. She earned a career-best 102 in that race, a sharp improvement from her previous career-top of 92 earned two starts back. She has a powerful late kick and should draw away after rating off the pace. #6 Frost Point (3/1) shipped down to Maryland and won an allowance race impressively in January. She pressed the pace and tired in the Top Flight last out, but has a lot of upside and gets Flavien Prat aboard. #4 Super Quick (5/2) usually lives up to her name, with abundant early speed. She flattened out in her last two starts, but had to face off against Clairiere and Malathaat in those races. There’s no one here at that level.
RACE 9: HILLTOP STAKES, 3-YEAR-OLDS, FILLIES, 1 MILE (GRASS)
This race starts the late pick 5 and is named after Pimlico, known as “Old Hilltop”. All eyes will be on reigning Breeders’ Cup champion #4 Pizza Bianca (4/5), who came from the clouds to upset the Juvenile FIllies Turf last year. She disappointed at low odds in her first start of the year last out, and while she can rebound, I don’t know if I can endorse her at a low price. I’ll try #8 Vergara (9/2) for Motion and Luis Saez. She capped off her 2-year-old season with back-to-back wins, including an impressive victory in the Tepin Stakes at Aqueduct. She was a non-factor on the Tapeta in the Bourbonette Oaks to start her 3-year-old season, but she gets back on her preferred surface and adds lasix for the first time. I think she’ll get back on track here and pay a decent number. #7 Murph (12/1) ran a big race in her grass debut, lasting almost the whole way on the lead before tiring in the last eighth. Should be able to hang around for a piece of the exotics.
RACE 10: MISS PREAKNESS STAKES, 3-YEAR-OLDS, FILLIES, 6 FURLONGS
The late pick 4 begins here. #6 Happy Soul’s (5/2) most recent line might distract bettors, as she was well-beaten in the Central Bank Ashland Stakes last out after showing speed. However, that was at 1 1/8 miles, a distance that’s much too far for her. She’s much better off sprinting, having won two stakes races at shorter distances in impressive style. #2 Under the Stars (8/5) is also likely to take a lot of money, coming off a fourth-place finish in the Santa Anita Oaks in which she stumbled badly. Prior to that, she fought gamely to win the Santa Ynez Stakes and closed for second in the Santa Ysabel Stakes. Getting back around one turn should help her, but I’m not sure if she’s as naturally fast as Happy Soul and will likely be a lower price. #3 Lady Scarlet (6/1) impressively won the Cicada Stakes two back but stopped badly on the lead in the Beaumont Stakes last out. She was rated in her big Cicada win, and she’ll likely be better off rating off the leaders and pouncing on them rounding the turn.
RACE 11: THE VERY ONE STAKES, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, FILLIES AND MARES, 5 FURLONGS (GRASS)
This race, named after a top mare in the late 1970s, confounds members of the racing media. Technically, it should be “The The Very One”, but that sounds very clunky. Note to horse owners: if you have a horse who you think will be a good one, make sure their name doesn’t start with “the”. There’s five Maryland-breds in here. #1 Phantom Vision (6/1) had an overland trip in the Giant’s Causeway Stakes at Keeneland, but that shouldn’t be a problem in this race. She showed promise over the Tapeta this winter and has lots of early speed. Prat in the saddle only helps the cause. #2 Honey Pants (5/2) sat the trip and drew off impressively at Gulfstream. She looks like she’s finding her best form and should be very tough third off the layoff. #10 Payntdembluesaway (3/1) drew off to win the Lightning City Stakes handily last out and is one of the main speed threats. Feargal Lynch will try to work out a virtually identical trip as last time.
RACE 12: PIMLICO SPECIAL STAKES, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 1 3/16 MILES
A large field of eleven was entered in here, and that’s with a lot of top locals not showing up. Not bad. #8 First Captain (5/1) looked like the prototype of a late-developing top 3-year-old last year, when he won the Dwyer Stakes impressively and finished third in the Curlin Stakes. However, his campaign stopped there. He returned with an impressive allowance win at Gulfstream in a fast time, but struggled in the Carter Handicap last out. He’s worked well since then and gets a drop in class. Shug should have him primed and I think he’ll handle the 9 1/2 furlongs just fine. #1 Vindictive (2/1) got the morning line nod here off a sharp allowance score at Aqueduct last out, with a career-best figure of 102. He’s shown glimmers of promise over this career, including back-to-back career-top figures, and finally gets to make his graded stakes debut here. Look for him to rate off the pace on the inside and make a bold move on the final turn. His stablemate, #3 Untreated (7/2), just missed in the Excelsior Stakes last out after a game stretch battle. He runs in the upper 90s pretty consistently and will also get a good trip.
RACE 13: GEORGE E. MITCHELL BLACK-EYED SUSAN STAKES, 3-YEAR-OLDS, FILLIES, 1 1/8 MILES
The Friday feature is named after the official flower of the Preakness and after a Baltimore community leader who passed away in 2020. #5 Beguine (12/1) missed a spot in the Longines Kentucky Oaks by inches in her last start, losing a stretch duel with Yuugiri by a neck. She broke her maiden in impressive gate-to-wire style two races back, and improved sharply in her last race. She has a chance to win this one on the lead at a price. #10 Adare Manor (5/2) battled hard in the Santa Anita Oaks last out and lost a photo to Desert Dawn, who came back to finish third in the Oaks. This filly won her prior two starts by a combined 25 lengths, including the Las Virgenes Stakes. She has lots of speed but runs the risk of losing lots of ground. #6 Luna Belle (9/2) is the local hero, having won five straight stakes races at Laurel Park in impressive fashion. She often comes from the back of the pack, rushing to the move with a trademark bold sweep. This is a tougher field than she’s ever faced but she has competitive figures and has been pointed to this race for months.
RACE 14: MAIDEN SPECIAL WEIGHT, 3, 4, AND 5-YEAR-OLDS, 5 FURLONGS (GRASS)
#7 Peligroso (8/5) was impressive in his grass debut, opening up a long early lead and holding on to second with an impressive figure of 87. Should be tough on the lead again. #9 Claudee Boy (8/1) also showed speed last out, in his first start off a long layoff. It was an encouraging race, as usually he comes from further off the pace. #3 Victory Anthem (10/1) improved in a big way in his last grass start and makes his 4-year-old debut here.