PIMLICO PICKS AND PONDERINGS: may 20, 2023
In which we pick the races from Pimlico each day…
Post time: 10:30 a.m.
Carryovers: Rainbow Jackpot Pick 6 — $91,985 Super High 5 — $26,721 Late Pick 5 — $0
Check out our other handicapping here!
RACE 1: ALLOWANCE (N/W1X), 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 5 FURLONGS (GRASS)
It’s time to get the party started. #3 Rock the Boat (5-2) made his first start in almost a year in last October’s Maryland Million Turf Sprint, finishing a strong-closing second to Sky’s Not Falling. He was uninspiring in two subsequent starts on dirt, but he’s had some time off since then and has been working very well for Robby Bailes. #9 Bourbon and Ice (8-1) was a respectable fourth in his first start of the year last out, giving him a bit of an edge over some of his most serious rivals. He started tailing off towards the end of last year and received some time off, but should run well second off the bench. #1 Tauber (3-1) beat Maryland-breds at this condition last August, and put in some strong rallies to get third at this condition in back-to-backs tarts, both times with less-than-favorable trips. He’s racing for the first time in five months for Damon Dilodovico, and while he runs the risk of getting buried in traffic from the rail, he’s live unless he gets a truly horrific trip.
RACE 2: ALLOWANCE OPTIONAL CLAIMING (N/W2X), 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 1 1/16 MILES
#5 Iywaan (2-1) tracked down a moderate tempo and kicked away to win at this level last out, running a brisnet figure in the 90s for the third straight race. He should work out an ideal trip once again. #3 Be Better (5-2) has rounded back into peak form since joining the Brittany Russell barn in mid-February. He got going late last out but could not track down the top two, who held those positions throughout the race. He’ll make an impact if he gets a semblance of a pace to close into. #7 Tate (10-1) races for Anthony Farrior and Arnaldo Bocachica, a dangerous combination around here year-round, and one that will get to show their stuff on a national stage today. This one has run no worse than an 88 in five of his last six starts, and overcame a wide trip to lose by less than a length at Penn National last out. The winner of that race raced no wider than one path to his inside throughout.
- Nick’s Turf 10: Busy weekendFour weekend turf stakes for sophomores impacted the latest edition of Nick’s Turf 10, with the top-ranked runners running like it.
RACE 3: MAIDEN SPECIAL WEIGHT, 3, 4, AND 5-YEAR-OLDS, 1 1/16 MILES (GRASS)
#10 He’s Got Swagger (7-2) has dramatically better figures than those of the rest, having run no worse than an 86 in each of his last three starts. He charged wide last out and missed behind a rival who sat a better trip. #1 Composer’s Dream (6-1) has raced near fast paces in his last few and backed up. He’s improved his figure with every race, peaking at an 83 last out, and will be interesting if the pace is a bit more moderate. #4 Weyhill Road (5-1) has an excellent pedigree, being a half-brother to Girvin and Midnight Bourbon. However, none of his siblings have won on grass. Still, he ran some decent figures in dirt earlier this year, so if he transfers that form to grass, he’ll contend.
RACE 4: SIR BARTON STAKES, 3-YEAR-OLDS, 1 1/16 MILES
The first stakes race of the day is named for the first Triple Crown winner. #4 Arabian Lion (2-5) would not have been out of place in the Preakness off a game runner-up finish in the Lexington Stakes. However, Bob Baffert has decided to drop him in here and pocket an easy $60,000. His figures are far superior to these, and he has abundant early speed. He should easily waltz around the track. #6 Dennington (5-1) was fourth in the Lexington, and while he did win a first-level race earlier this year, generally he leaves himself with too much to do late. He looks like a good bet to round out a cold exacta. #3 Tapit’s Conquest (4-1) made a promising move that flattened out in the Risen Star Stakes, then showed little in the Louisiana Derby. He’s shown glimmers of being a very good horse, but has yet to put it all together.
RACE 5: ALLOWANCE (N/W1X), 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, FILLIES AND MARES, 1 1/16 MILES (GRASS)
#6 Tequilera (7-2) couldn’t make it to the front in her season debut last out, but flashed plenty of speed last year en route to five straight in-the-money finishes. She should improve second off the layoff and will be tough if she gets to the lead. She’s had five different riders in her last five starts, and will make it six unique jockeys here as Tyler Gaffalione takes his turn. #2 Sake (10-1) has made strong moves to the front and faded in her last two grass starts. If she can time her move a bit better, it could be a winning one. #3 Thegirlfromireland (15-1) is owned by Shamrock Farm, where Coffeewithchris was born, and was bred by Tim Rooney, the brother of Coffeewithchris’ breeder, Tom. She kicked on late to break her maiden at Laurel Park in impressive style last out, taking a big step forward to a career-best 83. She’s interesting at a price.
RACE 6: CHICK LANG STAKES, 3-YEAR-OLDS, 6 FURLONGS
Nothing but stakes action from here on out. This one is named for the longtime general manager of Pimlico. #2 Ryvit (7-2) was pressed on the lead early on in the Bachelor Stakes, but kicked away late and won impressively for the third start in a row. He’s getting better all the time and doesn’t necessarily need the lead. That’s a plus for him, as #1 Havnameltdown (8-5) is likely to show speed from the inside. His win in the San Vicente Stakes was essentially a Baffert exhibition, but he showed legitimate ability when he finished second in the Saudi Derby, ahead of next-out UAE Derby winner Derma Sotogake. He’s worked well since returning to the U.S, and if he runs well first off the Middle East trip, he’ll be tough to beat. The best local hope, #7 Prince of Jericho (9-2), cuts back around one turn after losing the Federico Tesio Stakes by 2 3/4 lengths. He’s shown promise at shorter distances earlier in his career, including a four-length win in the Spectacular Bid Stakes with a 94.
- Keri Brion looking to make a splash at Delaware ParkKeri Brion is best known as a steeplechase trainer, but with a string at Delaware Park, she’s looking to make her name in the flat racing world.
RACE 7: GALLORETTE STAKES, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, FILLIES AND MARES, 1 1/16 MILES (GRASS)
We’re heading to the grass here to honor the great Maryland-bred mare. #7 Princess Theorem (9-2) has good tactical speed and should enjoy a great trip rating near the leaders. She’s run her three best figures in her last three starts. #1 Whitebeam (3-1) made her American debut, and first start of the year, in the Plenty of Grace Stakes at Aqueduct last out. she couldn’t track down a leader who got away with easy fractions, but it was nonetheless a game effort under the circumstances. #3 Traffic Song (12-1) is the main speed in the field and might be able to leave them reeling with the right fractions.
RACE 8: DINNER PARTY STAKES, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 1 1/8 MILES (GRASS)
This one is named in honor of the first race conducted at Pimlico, the 1870 Dinner Party Stakes. It was so named because the idea for the race came about at a dinner party in 1868. #4 Hurricane Dream (7-2) didn’t really get going until the last eighth in his last start, but when he started rolling, he really exploded. He won by 4 1/2 lengths over a stakes-quality allowance field at Keeneland. He’s shown promise in both of his American starts, and was group stakes-placed four times last year in France and Germany. #1 Atone (8-5) regressed badly in the Muniz Stakes last out, his first start after a determined win in the Pegasus Turf Cup. He led most of the way in this race last year, and in a race without a ton of speed, he could find himself on the lead once again. #7 Emmanuel (7-2) broke slowly in the Maker’s Mark Mile last out, and was no factor from there. He started his season with back-to-back graded stakes wins in Florida when he was closer to the pace. A clean start here could lead to a golden setup.
RACE 9: SKIPAT STAKES, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, FILLIES AND MARES, 6 FURLONGS
We’ll start the late pick 5 with a race named for the great mid-Atlantic sprinter of the late 1970s. She’s certainly the greatest Connecticut-bred of all time. #3 I’m the Boss of Me (4-1) shook off early pressure and pulled clear for an impressive allowance win at Oaklawn Park last out. She should make the front and has shown what it takes to hold on. The only time she truly wilted was two back when she was forced into a 21.15 opening quarter; she still finished more than 12 lengths clear of her dueling partner. #5 Princess Kokachin (6-1) also has plenty of early speed, which she showed in victory in the Primonetta Stakes last out. She was in sharp form throughout the first half of last year, consistently running figures in the 90s. She’s slowly been rounding back into her best self this year, and should prove a factor on the pace. #2 Beguine (3-1) has excellent tactical speed and would take advantage if the pace metls down. She hasn’t raced this year, but has worked consistently at Delaware Park since mid-April.
RACE 10: JIM MCKAY TURF SPRINT, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 5 FURLONGS (GRASS)
The iconic sportscaster and creator of the Maryland Million is honored with this race. #10 Coppola (6-1) has been a new horse since joining the Dale Romans barn and switching to grass. He’s run no worse than a 93 in three grass starts this ear, and kicked away impressively to beat allowance foes at Churchill Downs on Derby Tuesday. He should get a great setup. #1 Nothing Better (3-1) is a strong contender for the mid-Atlantic connections of Jorge Duarte Jr. and Horacio Karamanos. He made his first start off a long break at Aqueduct last out, and fought gamely on the lead for the win. You know Karamanos will send him to the front from the rail, and he’s proven on numerous occasions he has plenty of resilience. #13 Beer Can Man (8-1) ran a respectable 89 last out, in his first start in more than a year. He ran in the 90s consistently in late 2021 and early 2022 before going to the sidelines. The post position is the only serious deterrent.
RACE 11: MARYLAND SPRINT, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 6 FURLONGS
The last race of #4 Al Loves Josie (10-1) obscures his form. He was knocked around at the start and lost early position, then was blocked when trying to make a move in the stretch. He turned in two huge allowance wins at Laurel Park earlier in the year. He showed he could rate and win in the post recent one, which is an important skill in a race with a lot of speed. #8 Straight No Chaser (3-1) ran a career-best 104 last out when he impressively beat an allowance field at Oaklawn. He hasn’t run a bad race on dirt, including two triple-digit figures in four starts, and should be a major early pace figure. #10 Wondrwherecraigis (4-1) was pressed throughout through brutal fractions in his first start of the year, but held gamely and won. This is of course a step up in class, but he has loads of back-class and should turn in a great account of himself second off the break.
RACE 12: JAMES W. MURPHY STAKES, 3-YEAR-OLDS, 1 MILE (GRASS)
We’re heading to the grass to honor the late Maryland-based trainer, who won 1,381 races in his four-decade career. Notable horses include My Frenchman, Bring Out the Band, and Under the Rug. #8 Wonderful Justice (5-1) is another horse who was compromised by a bad trip last out. He usually prompts the pace, but he was bounced around early on last out and was unable to establish early footing. He’s worked very well since then, and with a cleaner trip here, he’ll be dangerous. He got up to win the Black Gold Stakes two races back, coming from off a slow pace to do it. #1 Funtastic Again (3-1) went gate-to-wire to win the Leonatus Stakes two races back and looks like the main speed of this field. #5 Circling the Drain (8-1) makes his long-awaited grass debut. While he’s never run on this surface before, he’s a half-sibling to five grass winners. He’ll do his best running late.
RACE 13: PREAKNESS STAKES, 3-YEAR-OLDS, 1 3/16 MILES
The pace scenario of this race was changed yesterday morning, when First Mission was scratched. That might make things a bit more difficult for #3 Mage (8-5), as he was counting on First Mission and #1 National Treasure (4-1) to set an honest pace. Now, things will be a bit easier for National Treasure up front. However, Mage set the pace on debut and won, then rated near the lead in the Fountain of Youth Stakes. He had to come from well out of it in his next two races, including the Kentucky Derby, because he broke slowly. If he breaks well, Javier Castellano should try to keep him no more than five lengths off the pace. If he does that, and the pace isn’t too slow, he should overwhelm them. If National Treasure is allowed to set a slow enough pace, he should have enough left late for the lane. With blinkers and the rail post, he should be sent by Javier Castellano. #7 Blazing Sevens (6-1) improved drastically second off the layoff to finish third in the Blue Grass Stakes last out after a wide trip. He’d also take advantage of a somewhat honest early tempo.
RACE 14: UAE PRESIDENT CUP, 4-YEAR-OLDS, 1 1/16 MILES
We’ll wrap up Preakness 2023 with some Arabians, as we’ve done over the past few years. #3 Quick Sand Aa (2-1) rallied from off the pace to beat a few of these in the Darley Sprint Stakes at Sam Houston Race Park last out. He was a solid third in his last try at this distance while rallying wide. #9 Diamond Gem Aa (7-5) has plenty of early speed and will try to get to the front from the far outside post. He’s a three-time graded stakes winner in just five career starts. #7 Rb Texas Hold Em (6-1) returned off a 2 1/2-year layoff in early January and has improved with each start since then. He closed well for second last out against allowance foes at Sam Houston.