Overview: Huge weekend for racing. Obviously Street Sense can get one step closer to the Triple Crown with a win in the Preakness. He could also become the #1 ranked horse in the nation according to the TCR. Still his position is hardly safe. Hard Spun is right on his heels and could take over the top spot in the division if he scores the mild upset. Einstein's connections will want to re-establish him at the top of the Turf division after the debacle on Derby day and Sugar Shake could move into the top 10 and be the #1 older female in America if she wins the Shuvee. Plenty to play for and many interesting races to handicap. Best of luck to everyone this weekend.
Allaire DuPont BC Distaff
Like the last race this one also depends on the scratches. Sugar Shake is the big favorite but seems more likely to run elsewhere. I may just go against her even if she stays but she certainly changes the way the race will likely be run. I see the Lukas horse Fiery Pursuit going straight to the front. Sugar Shake is more likely to run her into the ground but I think she may get caught in any event. She has been on a consistent pattern since breaking her maiden. She has run well but has never put two wins back to back. I expect that to continue but I do think she is good enough to run in the frame. She is the controlling speed and is very dangerous if left alone. However I think there is a classy enough closer to reel her in. Kettleoneup is quietly very effective. She's had two poor efforts on polytrack but otherwise she has never missed the exacta. I think she is in the form of her life and is ready to take the next step up the ladder. She may be the best bet of the day. I would use Larry Jones's Gasia as well. I don't understand her morning line of 15/1. She seems just as capable as many of these fillies and could be in top form third off the shelf. She was 4th but not poor on this very weekend last year.
Black Eyed Susan
This is a pretty bad race, it's no wonder Baroness Thatcher is 3/2. I think literally any horse who lines up here could win it. I'm not a big fan of Baroness Thatcher in here. Overall I think she is a good filly, one of the better of the crop. However it seems to me that she has gone off form and if Biancone has one weakness its not knowing when to stop on his horses. Sure she got cut in her last race but what was her excuse for the Santa Anita Oaks? She simply spit out the bit and faded badly. She might be back in form, then again she might not. I don't really like Panty Raid, I respect horses coming off the Polytrack but she offers no value and isn't any better in terms of speed or class. I like Winning Point who is making her two turn debut. I think two turns will suit her well and she may win this race a shade comfortably. Nothing went right for last time out and she still ran a respectable second to Boca Grande. I expect that she'll move forward from that effort and if she can break cleanly she may give this group a dusting. I have a soft spot for the minuscule Enchanting Star. She hasn't been out of the exacta yet and just maybe she'll be able to keep that streak alive and give some good prices. She's a tough little girl who always seems to come running. She also had a lightning work at Delaware recently.
Baltimore City Turf Sprint
A total crap shoot, which means that there could be a good amount of value in here. Unbridled Sidney is listed as the favorite but at the time of writing it's unknown where she'll turn up. I don't like her in this spot even if she comes. This race is jam packed with speed and since closers have the advantage in many of these turf sprints to begin with I'm not going to use her. I hope she does run here though because it will mean better prices for the others. I like Salute The Count, although his figures have not been terribly impressive no one has managed to beat him at this distance. He has truly found new life as a turf sprinter. This horse knows how to get to the line in front and he's got good tactical speed, not unlike Gaff who won the Aegon Turf Sprint on the Derby undercard. Another horse who is very dangerous with good tactical speed is Heros Reward. He gets Prado aboard and has been red hot this year. Actually he's been red hot ever since they moved him to the grass. I don't trust the figure he got last out but I think he is right in the mix regardless. If he actually stays around 10/1 he might be the way to go because I see him as on par with Salute the Count but one is 7/2 and the other 12/1. I think the best closer in this race is Beer Stien, I don;t mind getting Mr Mutter as well for the same price but Beer Stien is the better part of the entry. Things didn't work out for him last time but he'll appreciate that switch back to Turf. Leatherbury has been winning nearly everything he's set his hand to at Pimlico thus far and he has to be respected when he steps a horse up. Beer Stien also gets the go to jock Ryan Fogelsonger.
1)Salute The Count
I would love to see Like Mom Like Sons win, I always have to cheer for the Canadians or in this case Canadian connections. But I don't think I'll cheer with my wallet. Suffice it to say that I don't really trust a horse who has hardly been pressed early and has only run on Woodbines Polytrack. This horse could be any kind, but one of those "kinds" he could be is much worse than he looks. I think Street Magician will be at his throat from the start, Southwestern Heat will likely be there as well. Although he is not the most brilliant horse in the race I love the class and consistency of Hobbitontherocks. I think he is well suited to the pace scenario. In his last race he was used pretty hard early on to keep the 4/5 favorite in check. He wore him down but didn't have enough to keep Heart Throbbin at bay. I think he will be able to settle a bit more in this spot and he'll give them all they can handle in the lane.
I'm not thrilled about opposing Precious Kitten but I feel like I have to. Precious Kitten is not the kind of dominant favorite that you dare not oppose. She is good, solid and consistent but beatable, now it does worry me that she is win-less in her last two. A horse like this can't be kept out of the winners circle for too long but I'm feeling brave because of the presence of what I think is a good up and comer. Grigorieva kept some pretty good company in Europe and on her North American debut she simply decided to spot the rest of the field 15 lengths right off the start. She closed very well to be second and I think Motion will have her firing on all cylinders for this race. She could end stepping into even better company if my intuition is correct. She is also proven over less than firm turf which might be an asset if we get some rain. Aunt Henny is worth a look, Matz will likely be overbet all day because of sentiment but he is pretty good at spotting his turf horses.
I hate this race but I figure I'll offer my take anyway. Chelokee lays over the field but he is certainly a beatable horse and he's going to be 2/5. The only alternatives I see are Stonehouse and Zephyr Cat. I kind of like Stonehouse because I think he's going to have an easy lead. Not just an easy lead, but if Soaring By scratches he could literally walk through the early stages and be left alone. Borel could realistically steal this race. But I'd only use him if Soaring By is out, otherwise I'll just sit back and watch the sentimental Matz victory.
Now this is a race you can really sink your teeth into. Lots of options and at least the illusion of value. I say illusion because ultimately value is determined by what you actually get for betting. A 10/1 loser pays nothing while a 2/1 winner could net you a profit. But anyway this race looks like one where a price could be available. Everyone will have to decide what to do with Einstein. The Woodford Reserve has to be his coronation as king of the eastern circuit. Instead he went AWOL. You have to like his chances of rebounding here but again, just like Precious Kitten I think you can beat this horse. Include him but don't single him. If mending Fences was not stuck in the 11 hole I would play him with a good measure of confidence. No one has been looking but this horse is the latest Wolfson revival. Like the champ Miesque's Approval last year Mending Fences was transferred to Wolfson (via the claim box) after a pretty ineffective career and has since won 4 of 6 starts. He's been steadily climbing through the ranks and he gets Castro on. Wolfson and Castro are deadly with shippers. But he's a speed horse who is starting from the 11 hole on the turn. Use him with caution. I find myself also being suckered into one of the biggest sucker horses in the division, Cosmonaut. One of these days he's going to win a nice race like this and all the signs are good. He should get a perfect spot with his post and Prado on his back. He sure looked a picture in his comeback effort and he just might be ready to shake off his "almost" tendencies. I think if you're using any sort of exotics then Dreadnaught has to be on the ticket. He doesn't win but he makes a good run of it and I think it would take a brave man to exclude him from the trifecta.
In my opinion it is borderline irresponsible to use anyone other than Street Sense as your primary. Sure we can get cute in predicting regressions but the bottom line is he is much the best horse and many Derby winners hold their level of fitness for two weeks. The real task is getting to the Belmont. Street Sense has never produced a monster effort away from Churchill so I think it's reasonable to think that some of these horses could give him a run for his money but in the end he's the class. I like Hard Spun again, although I did not end up using Hard Spun in the Derby I did fully acknowledge that he was the speed of the speed and since he's got bags of stamina as well he is one dangerous horse. He can go early and he doesn't quit in the lane. He should have some pace pressure here but he'll be the one to catch again. Curlin, I don't like as much. Yes he had a bad trip in the Derby but inexperienced horses often don't step up after an arduous trip in the Derby. Of the top 3 Derby horses I think he is the most likely to be out of the frame. I don't like Circular Quay either, I don't think the pace will be as peachy as some predict for closers. Circular Quay is also a light bodied horse who apparently couldn't even stand up to running in 3 prep races. I don't think wheeling him back in two weeks is ideal for him. The horse I will attempt to get in the frame is King of the Roxy. I know he has distance issues. I know he nearly stopped cold in the SA derby. But here is what I like about him. He is very talented. If this race were a flat mile I might actually fancy him to win this outright. He is just as good as the main contenders he just cant run as far. Pletcher has been pointing him to this race for a while. So you have to think if he was ever going to run well enough to hit the frame going long this would be the time. He has looked pretty good in the mornings, even Nafzger referred to him as a "monster". I think he is going to run a huge race and hopefully he can get in the exacta. Talent counts, and in my mind it often trumps stamina if the conditions are right. Even Cherokee Run managed to run second in the Preakness. I think this horse both has as much talent as Cherokee Run and as much stamina. I do think he'll be fading in the final furlong but he may have built himself a lead by that point and it might be enough to hold on for a spot. That's what I'm hoping anyway.
2)King of the Roxy