PIMLICO PICKS AND PONDERINGS: May 21, 2022
In which we pick the races from Pimlico each day…
Post time: 10:30 a.m.
Carryovers: Rainbow Jackpot Pick 6 — $103,943 Super High 5 — $0 Late Pick 5 — $0
Check out our other handicapping here!
RACE 1: ALLOWANCE (N/W1X), 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 6 FURLONGS
Happy Preakness day! Note that, just like yesterday, the early pick 5 does not begin here; it starts in race 2. #8 Shacks Way (3/1) won two in a row to conclude his Oaklawn Park season, including an impressive gate-to-wire performance last out. He looks fast enough to clear to the lead and the rail, and from there he should be able to hold his rivals at bay. #7 Where Paradise Lay (5/2) returns to his home state after a rather disappointing streak in Florida. He struggled against better allowance foes down there, but consistently ran brisnet figures in the mid/upper-80s, which is good enough to win this race. He hasn’t won in a while but always turns in a game effort and this looks like a group he can beat. #1 Spitball (5/1) has great late pace figures and should be running on late.
RACE 2: ALLOWANCE OPTIONAL CLAIMING (N/W2X), 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 1 1/16 MILES
#6 Armando R (3/1) was a solid second at this level last out, losing only to You Must Chill, who has won four times this year and won against better allowance foes next out. This one has run back-to-back figures of 96, the only one in the field who has run figures that fast in his last few. It’ll help if he gets a pace to close into, but there’s lots of speed to set that up. #1A Benandjoe (4/1) exits the same race as Armando R. He set the pace and held on for third. He has lots of early speed and is in improving form. #3 Gentleman Joe (10/1) is also a speed threat and ran back-to-back figures of 100 earlier in the year. He likely won’t last on the lead, but he can hang around for third and fourth at a good number.
- 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: MAIDEN SPECIAL WEIGHT, 3, 4, AND 5-YEAR-OLDS, 1 1/16 MILES (GRASS)
#4 Evan Harlan (4/5) ran well in his first race off a long layoff last out at Aqueduct, earning a career-best figure of 82 while running second. Adds lasix for the first time for Graham Motion and looks very tough against these. #5 Amarillo (9/2) has the best last-out figure in the race, having earned an 85 at Gulfstream Park last out following a rough break. He tends to run evenly late and doesn’t have much of a closing punch, but he’s coming in in career-best form and has been working well for Michael Matz. He’s the best alternative if you want to try and beat the favorite. #3 General’s Duty (10/1) goes second off the layoff for Jane Cibelli and has shown strong closing speed in the past.
RACE 4: MARYLAND SPRINT STAKES, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 6 FURLONGS
Today’s first stakes race features seven sprinters doing battle. #6 Mr. Phil (3/1) looks like the most dangerous of the speed horses, having won back-to-back tough allowance races at Aqueduct. Based on his pace figures, he should be able to get to the lead and the rail, and from there, he will prove tough to catch. #4 Disco Pharoah (5/2) ran a 95 and a 97 in his last two starts, including a dominant win in the Frank Whiteley Stakes at Laurel Park last out. He has great tactical speed and will take full advantage if the pace melts down. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he won more graded stakes this year. #5 Full Authority (5/1) will also rate off the pace and should grind his way to a slice of the exotics.
RACE 5: GALLORETTE STAKES, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, FILLIES AND MARES, 1 1/16 MILES (GRASS)
This race is named after the champion Maryland-bred filly of the mid-1940s. It’s wild to think that she’s considered one of the top female horses of all time, yet wasn’t even the best member of her 3-year-old filly crop. That honor goes to Busher, who won the 1945 Horse of the Year. #2 Crystal Cliffs (2/1) was very sharp in her first start off a long layoff last out, crushing the field in the Sand Springs Stakes after coming from the back of the pack. She packs a strong late punch and Motion will have her ready to run. In contrast, #4 Technical Analysis (7/5), has lots of early speed and won two graded stakes races at Saratoga last year. In the latter, the Lake Placid Stakes, she went gate-to-wire. If she wins this one, it will likely be in similar fashion. Jose Ortiz gets back aboard for her second start of the year. #5 In a Hurry (5/1) made a big move into a fast pace in the Dahlia Stakes last out and flattened out. Joel Rosario gets in the saddle and will try to make a better-timed move. She’ll likely rate close to the pace.
RACE 6: ALLOWANCE (N/W1X), 3-YEAR-ODLS AND UP, FILLIES AND MARES, 1 1/16 MILES (GRASS)
Mike Maker won the Miss Preakness Stakes yesterday, and he’ll try to keep up the momentum today. His first starter of the day is #11 Golden Voice (5/2), who fought gamely to win a three-horse photo at Keeneland last out. She’s facing a pretty soft field here and shouldn’t have much trouble with them. It’s encouraging to see Tyler Gaffalione, who rode her to victory last out, keep the mount. #4 Kate’s Kingdom (4/1) runs in the upper-70s and 80s pretty steadily in her grass starts and made up ground despite a very wide trip at Gulfstream last out. She’s another one whose proven grass form will help the cause. #7 Fire in the Hole (6/1) goes out for the first time since last August for Motion and is proven over the track, with a win and a close runner-up effort under her belt.
- 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: SKIPAT STAKES, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, FILLIES AND MARES, 6 FURLONGS
Skipat was a top female sprinter in the late 1970s and early 1980s. She won the Barbara Fritchie Handicap in 1979 and 1981. She’s certainly the greatest Connecticut-bred of all time. #2 Oxana (8/1) has improved her figure in four straight starts and has dangerous early speed with an inside draw. She couldn’t get to the front last out, and although she ran a lifetime-top figure of 97, it wasn’t a very visually impressive race. As long as she breaks well here, she can control things up top and possibly pull the upset. #5 Kaylasaurus (4/1) is already a two-time stakes winner in Maryland this year, including a victory in the Primonetta Stakes last out. She overcame moderate fractions and wore down the leaders for an exciting win. When she gets a fast pace to run into, she can be explosive. #6 Cilla (7/2) hasn’t been as fast this year as she was as a 3-year-old, but she did win two stakes races against Louisiana-breds earlier this season. She ran a 94 in the Madison Stakes last out but didn’t make much of a dent against tougher sprinters. She’s likely to rate off Oxana early and try to wear her down.
RACE 8: DINNER PARTY STAKES, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 1 1/16 MILES (GRASS)
The first race run at Pimlico was the Dinner Party Stakes, named after a group of people who came up with the idea for Pimlico at a dinner party in Saratoga in 1868. Maybe at your next party, you’ll come up with as good an idea as the founding of Pimlico. Only time will tell! The rainbow pick 6 starts here. #4 Beacon Hill (9/2) surged wide after a tough trip first off the layoff at Keeneland last out and just missed. He’s usually not that far off the pace; generally, he stalks just off the early pace and pounces. In a race without a ton of speed, being forwardly placed is important. #3 Set Piece (8/5) was dominant on the Churchill Downs grass last year but hasn’t quite shown the same aptitude since then. He’ll be running on late, but who knows if he’ll get the pace to run into. #5 English Bee (6/1) matched or surpassed his lifetime-top figure in his last two starts and often makes strong middle moves that flatten out. I’m looking for him to hang on to third or fourth.
RACE 9: CHICK LAND STAKES, 3-YEAR-OLDS, 6 FURLONGS
This race is named after the former general manager of the Maryland Jockey Club. The late pick 5 starts here.#5 Old Homestead (2/1) hasn’t trailed at any point in his three-race career. He passed the class test last out with an impressive win in the Lafayette stakes at Keeneland. Thomas Pompell comes in here just for this mount. He’s sure to send him to the front and try not to look back. He has to deal with speed on his inside but looks fast enough to outrun them. #7 Whelan Springs (4/1) also passed a class test last out, when this Arkansas-bred won the Rainbow Stakes against open company with a career-best figure of 97. He has good tactical speed and will take advantage if the pacesetters falter. #2 Lightening Larry (10/1) enticed Chantal Sutherland to come up from Florida for the mount. He showed heart to win the Limehouse Stakes on the lead two starts back and was a solid second against fellow Florida-breds last out. He should rate near the pace and has the potential to shake up the exotics.
RACE 10: JAMES W. MURPHY STAKES, 3-YEAR-OLDS, 1 MILE (GRASS)
A field of eleven 3-year-olds will line up in this race named for the longtime Maryland trainer. Despite an impressive win in the Federico Tesio Stakes, the connections of #10 Joe (3/1) elected not to supplement him to the Preakness, and instead will try him on the grass. He has the pedigree for this surface but is largely unproven on it, having turned in a fifth-place effort in a sprint in his lone try on the lawn. His workouts have been strong and he’ll get the trip. Not many in here have grass experience, which plays to his advantage. One of his rivals who does is #5 Ready to Perform (5/2), who won the Laurel Futurity last year in a visually breathtaking performance. He was a non-factor in a stakes race on the Breeders’ Cup undercard and hasn’t been seen since. If Brad Cox has him ready to roll first off the bench the others could be in trouble. Wouldn’t be surprising to see him loop them all again. #7 Riot House (4/1) found his best self over the winter at Gulfstream with two sharp wins and will be forwardly placed.
RACE 11: SIR BARTON STAKES, 3-YEAR-OLDS, 1 1/16 MILES
This race is named after the first Triple Crown winner. #4 The Addison Pour (15/1) showed promise all winter and spring long at Laurel, and put it all together with a gutsy nose victory after a wide trip. That form was validated when the runner-up, Uncle Irish, impressively won a first-level allowance race yesterday. Jevian Toledo has the mount on The Addison Pour; he won three times yesterday, including two races for Brittany Russell. #8 Unikee (4/1) broke his maiden in style two races back at Gulfstream Park then cost himself a win last out at Keeneland when he drifted out. He’s shown lots of promise thus far in his brief career; the only question is the distance. He’s never gone beyond seven furlongs. #9 Brooklyn Diamonds (10/1) has great late pace figures and has lots of room to improve off two promising efforts at Oaklawn Park.
RACE 12: JIM MCKAY TURF SPRINT, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 5 FURLONGS (GRASS)
The final race before the Preakness pays tribute to the legendary Maryland-based broadcaster and creator of the Maryland Million. #7 Grateful Bred (6/1) was extremely impressive in last year’s Maryland Million Turf Sprint, as he set the early pace and won virtually uncontested. He was a solid-closing second first off the bench in the King Leatherbury Stakes last out. He’s a perfect 2-for-2 over this track and cannot be discounted. #3 Seven Scents (4/1) also has early speed and won his first start off the claim for Brad Cox. He could slip through the cracks int he wagering. #2 Cartori (9/5) will likely show speed on the rail but is not as recently raced as some of his rivals.
RACE 13: PREAKNESS STAKES, 3-YEAR-OLDS, 1 3/16 MILES
If Wayne Lukas didn’t scratch Ethereal Road from the Derby and let Rich Strike run, in all likelihood, #8 Epicenter (6/5) would’ve won and entered here as an overwhelming favorite. He made a solid move into fast fractions and battled gamely in the stretch with Zandon, but he could not withstand Rich Strike’s rally, after that longshot drafted well off the blazing early pace. At the top of the stretch in the Derby, it looked like Epicenter would draw away and win easily, but he had to fight for it in the stretch. The pace might be fast once again, and as long as Epicenter doesn’t get too close to it, he can time his move well and and win impressively. Last night, he was 6/5 in the early wagering. Granted, there wasn’t that much money in the pool, but if he stays near that price, he’d make a great win bet. That’s something you don’t get to say too often about a 6/5 shot. #4 Secret Oath (9/2) drew off to win the Kentucky Oaks last out at a generous 4/1, after dominating her own sex at Oaklawn Park earlier in the year. Wayne Lukas has dropped her in here as she seeks to become the third filly to win the Preakness in the past fifteen years, and give Lukas seven Preakness winners. She’s coming in off a lifetime-top figure of 103, and she’d be even better-suited to take advantage of a fast pace than Epicenter, given her midpack running style. The comparisons to Rachel Alexandra have been made, but you’re going to get a much better price on Secret Oath. #5 Early Voting (7/2) will likely be the early leader. He ran a game race in the Wood Memorial last out and finished second, but Klaravich Stables Chad Brown passed on a spot in the Derby to run here. They pulled that maneuver successfully with Cloud Computing and unsuccessfully with Crowded Trade. Will it work here?
RACE 14: UAE PRESIDENT CUP, 4-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, ARABIANS, 1 1/16 MILES
Let’s bring it home with some Arabians. #1 Like Moulin Rouge (5/1) won two graded stakes races earlier in the year at Sam Houston Race Park and will be closing strongly. He won around two turns twice at Arapahoe Park last year, so distance shouldn’t be an issue. #6 Hiab Al Zaman (2/1) went gate-to-wire to win at Lone Star Park to cap off his 2021 season, and makes his 2022 bow here. He’s won four of his last six overall and can come from off the pace just as easily as he can set it. #3 Quick Sand Aa (5/2) led in the stretch in this race last year before tiring and finishing third. He crossed the wire third behind Like Moulin Rouge last out and always puts in a good account of himself. I don’t know how many Mississippi-breds have ever raced at Pimlico, but he’s one.