Maryland Sprint Stakes – Race 10 at Pimlico – Post Time 4:05 PM Eastern
Lewisfield has done little wrong in his career, with five victories in 7 races including a win in a restricted stakes when last seen in March. Bocachica has been the only pilot he’s known and rides back and the horse has proven capable of winning when leading from the start or if he has to sit in 2nd or 3rd in the early stages. The 114 Equibase figure put forth in his last win was a career best and tops in the field and there’s every reason to believe that effort can be repeated or bettered here.
Heartwood can ALSO be bet if for no other reason than he opens at 15/1 and has a legitimate shot. He posted the 15/1 upset in a tough classified allowance field on a sloppy track one before last and he won at stakes race with a 200K purse last fall so there’s no doubt he fits at the level. Geroux was up for the April upset and rides back as the colt cuts back from a mile to six furlongs, which helps his chances to be closing strongly in the final stages.
Long Haul Bay has won 3 of 4 career starts and the one he didn’t win led to a layoff so can be ignored. He returned from 10 months off last month to win nicely and was flattered when the runner-up came back to win. That win earned a 103 figure that should be improved upon 2nd off the layoff but still isn’t in range of the 114 effort Lewisfield put forth but considering Brown’s success this year (and before that) the colt could improve enough to win.
Irish Colonel, like Heartwood, opens at double digit odds that warrant scrutiny. He missed by a neck when last seen at the end of March and won prior to that, the win earning a 111 figure similar to the 110 figure effort put forth last November at the distance. As a horse that’s been 1st or 2nd in 15 of 30 career starts, he is an absolute must for inclusion on any exacta tickets we play at the very least. We should also add Fellowship to the bottom of exacta tickets played as he could run as he did in February on a sloppy track when finishing fast for second.
Bets: Lewisfield to win at 2 to 1 or more.
Heartwood to win at 7 to 2 or more, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or higher.
Irish Colonel to win at 4 to1 or more, adding a place bet at 6 to 1 or higher.
Exacta: Lewisfield, Heartwood, Long Haul Bay and Irish Colonel over Lewisfield, Heartwood, Long Haul Bay, Irish Colonel and Fellowship.
Preakness Stakes – Race 13 at Pimlico – Post Time 6:48 PM Eastern
Bravazo will be my top choice to win the Preakness Stakes by repeating his effort when winning the Risen Star Stakes in February, posting the upset and returning $44 for $2. At the time, Bravazo was making his second start as a three year old and second following a layoff, coming off a 104 Equibase Speed Figure effort when winning one month earlier. In the Risen Star, Bravazo won gamely by a neck to earn a career best 110 figure when improving nicely in his second race off the rest. In the Louisiana Derby, I cannot say what went wrong when as the second betting choice (5 to 2) Bravazo faded badly to eighth after being up close in third in the early stages. However, his effort two weeks ago in the Kentucky Derby was pretty good as he rallied four to five paths wide while moving up from eleventh to fourth over the course of three furlongs until he flattened out in mid-stretch to end up sixth. In the Preakness Bravazo will have to deal with a lot less traffic and if jockey Luis Saez is able to get him into second or third with about a half-mile to go, as was the case in the Risen Star, this colt can post the upset because the 110 figure earned in that race is as good as the figure Justify earned winning the Kentucky Derby. Lukas is no stranger to posting the upset in this race, having done so with Oxbow a few years back, who like Bravazo was owned by Calumet Farm and was a son of Awesome Again .
Justify is unbeaten in four starts and has improved his Equibase figure in each, going from 106 in his career debut to 110 winning the Kentucky Derby. In the Derby, Justify was able to beat 18 other horses out of the gate to secure second position early, avoiding the mud and water flying everywhere over the very sloppy track and that had to have been a significant factor in his success as he held his two and one-half length margin over Good Magic the entire last eighth of a mile. With many less horses to be in front of at the start of the Preakness, Justify is as likely, or even more so, to be in front in the opening strides, but in the event Quip or Diamond King (who are drawn inside of Justify in the gate) get the lead that should not be an issue as he has raced in second or third in the early stages in two of his four victories. As such, it would come as no surprise that the Derby winner takes the Preakness, following in the footsteps of I’ll Have Another (2012), California Chrome (2014) and Triple Crown winner American Pharoah (2015).
Good Magic ran his heart out in the Derby, chasing Justify for the final half-mile but making up no ground. After a poor effort in his 2018 return to the races when third in the Fountain of Youth Stakes in March, Good Magic redeemed himself nicely with victory in the Blue Grass Stakes, earning a 104 figure in the process. In spite of being no match for the Derby winner, Good Magic improved to a 106 figure in the race and is set to improve again back to the form shown when winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last fall with a 109 figure. Considering how close that effort would be to the one Justify put forth two weeks ago and considering Good Magic is making his fourth start of 2018 compared to Justify making his fifth start of the year, it is conceivable Good Magic may have enough improvement forthcoming to turn the tables on his nemesis in the Preakness.
Lone Sailor is not a win contender in my opinion but can certainly be second or third at the end to complete any exacta or trifecta tickets played. Lone Sailor improved markedly in the Louisiana Derby with a career best 106 figure, that being his third start of the year. He then had a trip similar to Bravazo in the Kentucky Derby in which Lone Sailor moved up from 15th to sixth with an eighth of a mile to go before flattening out and ending up eighth. With less traffic in the Preakness, Lone Sailor may be passing many of these late and could earn a big chunk of the purse.
Bets: Bravazo to win at 2 to 1 or more, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or more.
Exacta: Bravazo, Justify and Good Magic over Lone Sailor, Bravazo, Justify and Good Magic.
Trifecta: Bravazo, Justify and Good Magic over Lone Sailor, Bravazo, Justify and Good Magic over Lone Sailor, Bravazo, Justify and Good Magic.
Doubles: Bravazo, Justify and Good Magic in Race 13 with Phil’s Cocktail, Ugottahaveheart, Iredell and Appealing Future in Race 14.
Race 14 at Pimlico – Post Time 7:35 Eastern
Phil’s Cocktail is a tough claiming pro, with 11 first or second place efforts in his last 21 races. He qualified for this 5K starter allowance race when he raced for 5K last December, likely something Brooks noticed when he claimed the horse for 7,500 out of a runner-up effort on 3/30. Winning two later, just SIX days ago, easily at the 15K level in the mud OVER THE TRACK, Phil’s Cocktail has a big shot to win once again and make even more profit off the claim six weeks ago.
Appealing Future is 5 for 15 in his career, not bad at all, including a win in a 50K allowance race in Pennsylvania one before last on 4/7. He finished 2nd over a sloppy track prior to that and 4th since then against open allowance company so this is a DROP in class as this 5K starter level is the equivalent of a 10K claiming race. With Javier Castellano staying around for the last race on a big card, for high percentage trainer Servis, there is every reason to believe Appealing Future is live and has the talent to win the nightcap.
Ugottahaveheart and Iredell are both proven at the level, hence open as the top two betting choices at 3/1 and 5/2, respectively. Ugottahaveheart won at this level twice in January and in his most recent start on 3/30 but has never raced over the Pimlico surface, a small knock, while Iredell moves back to dirt after a poor effort on turf and won by 6 lengths, over Ugottahaveheart, on 2/15 as well as won at Pimlico last May. He has more 2nd place finishes (10) than wins (8) so although a MUST to use on exacta tickets he doesn’t have to win.
Bets: Phil’s Cocktail to win at 5 to 2 or more.
Appealing Future to win at 3 to 1 or higher.
Exactas: Phil’s Cocktail and Appealing Future over Phil’s Cocktail and Appealing Future, Ugottahaveheart and Iredell.
Then also the reverse of the above, which is Phil’s Cocktail and Appealing Future, Ugottahaveheart and Iredell over Phil’s Cocktail and Appealing Future.
Frans Valentine Stakes – Race 9 at Santa Anita – Post Time 8 Eastern (5 Pacific)
Shy Carmelita has mostly run on dirt throughout her 14 race career, with 3 wins in 11 races on the main track. However, she won on the turf when last seen on 4/1 in her 3rd turf try and was 2nd in another last summer before taking seven months off. With a lot of improvement to show us 3rd off the layoff, this gal who is a full sister to multiple winner Grazenette and who moves from open (not restricted) 2nd level allowance company to this statebred stakes level (a lateral class move and possibly a drop in class) has a big shot to run as well as she did when last seen on the course, earning a field high last race 112 Equibase figure that beats these on the square if repeated, for the always dangerous D’Amato barn and with Talamo riding right back.
Barbara Beatrice is another very competitive mare, with 9 first or 2nd place finishes in 18 races, a subset of which is a 7 for 10 record first or second on turf. She’s won at this mile trip and she’s won at Santa Anita and she was 2nd in a similar Cal-Bred stakes race (but on dirt) last November so she fits on all counts for a top effort.
Cordiality won at this mile turf trip one race before her last, in March, at the same openNW2X allowance condition Shy Carmelita won at (but sprinting) last time out. The mare is7 for 20 in her career with another six runner-up efforts for good measure but oddly enough even though a Cal-Bred hasn’t run in one of these restricted stakes races. Baze rode her to her last three wins, all when leading or 2nd in the early stages, and although her outside post may not be the best for her style there’s no taking away from the fact her best effort may be good enough to win.
Moonless Sky finished 2nd in an identical race last summer and was 2nd in last year’s edition of this stakes. She won last fall at a mile on grass in an open NW2X level race similar to the other contenders and the only knock relative to those is she opens at the lowest odds, 7/2 on the morning line.
Longshot consideration must be given to Speakers and Lynne’s Legacy, the former with the ground saving rail and coming out of a very troubled effort, before that with a win at this mile trip over the course, and the latter running first off the O’Neill claim, out of the first time she was EVER eligible to be claimed, and a decent runner-up effort at that. She’s a multiple turf route winner versus Cal-Breds and her 15/1 morning line is intriguing. O’Neill also saddles How About Zero, who stretches back out to a mile off a pair of sprints and who missed by a head in that mile turf race three back after leading in the stretch.
Bets: Shy Carmelita to win at 5 to 2 or more.
Barbara Beatrice to win at 3 to 1 or more.
Cordiality to win at 7 to 2 or higher.
When making or considering multiple horses for win bets, use a “Dutching” tool like that found at Amwager, which helps allocate your betting dollars for the best return.