Pimlico Special Handicap
Not a race that screams G-1 quality but certainly a race that seems to offer a chance to make some money. I think the race is wide open and both AP Arrow and Grasshopper could be slightly vulnerable. AP Arrow is coming back from Dubai and shows just two 4f works since being back I won't use him at this price although he is very capable. Grasshopper is the horse to beat but it's hard to ignore how he's managed to get beat in 3 of his last 4 races. Certainly Neil Howard would have expected better out of him. Hey is a key for the exotics though and if his odds actually are 3/1 he's worth a bet. The horse I like instead of him is Sir Whimsey. I think he's turned a corner this year and I expect a good tactical ride from Prado behind the pace setup. He's a tough horse who should relish the return to dirt. He may be a bit overlooked here. The pace should be strong with Temporary Saint and Gottcha Gold. I think both horses could win if either of them wasn't there but together neither of them is likely to wire the field. It would not shock me to see Gottcha Gold hang around for third though.
Black-Eyed Susan Stakes
Bsharpsonata is an admirable filly and once again she has a great chance of adding to her impressive record but I think she's a bit vulnerable. She's had a hard spring already and now she's coming back at 9f and relatively short rest. 9f always promised to be a bit of a stamina test for her and judging by the way she faded in the Oaks it may still prove to be a bit much for her right now. I know she was not perfectly suited to the pace scenario in the Oaks and she'll get a better setup this time but there is still enough doubt here for me to oppose her. She was campaigned all spring to be in top form for the Oaks. She faded in the final furlong there and now comes back in two week and tries to do the same. I don't understand the fascination with Highest Class, maybe it's her connections but when I look at her races on video and on paper I see a plodder who has never really run a fast race. I much prefer the improving Sherine. There are a few speed horses in this race but the others (Maren's Meadow and One Step Ahead) look like chaff that should be through in the first half. Sherine looks like a filly of genuine quality. She was nearly the equal of stablemate Zee Zee on the grass and has never had any difficulty running routes on the dirt. She is coupled with Pious Ashley who doesn't seem to stand much chance. I expect her to stalk the pace but assume command after a half mile. She should be tough to catch, she's a genuine filly and she has been well prepared for this one.
I'm not sure if many people will love this race as a chance to bet the win pool. It looks awfully straightforward with Big Brown towering over the rest. But because of his dominance there might be quite an opportunity in the exotics. We can all see that if Big Brown stays on his feet his chances of losing are small at best but we can also all remember a time when a horse who seemed like a lock had an unfortunate circumstance. Missing the break, slipped saddle, broken reign or even some bad traffic could all concievably see Big Brown beaten. There are only three horses I'd use with him and just one against him to hedge the unthinkable. Icabad Crane is his chief rival in my estimation. Beyer Speed figures claim that he and Big Brown are worlds apart and perhaps they are but Icabad Crane can definitely beat all the rest so automatically that makes me consider using him as a hedge. The Motion trainee got off to a slow start in NY bred races but he looked visually impressive even if the speed figures didn't jump off the page. He tried stakes company next but perhaps found that Polytrack was not really to his liking. He ran an ok third but bounced back in fine style with a very impressive win in the Tesio. I love way this horse can make several moves and doesn't shy away from any gaps. His ability to rate and accelerate is ideal the only question mark is how fast he can go when in full flight. He outdueled Mint Lane last time when that one set a slow pace. Mint Lane came back to set a fast pace and still hang on for second in the Peter Pan. I fully expect Icabad Crane to run second. Giant Moon is a horse I'd use underneath. He looked like a good prospect until the slop of the Gotham. The Wood was also not a bad race for him. He's fresh and working well, I think he'll run well. Racecar Rhapsody is another horse I would use underneath. He's got a good closing style and despite 3 4th place finishes in a row I think he's coming up to his best race. Big Brown has no excuse to lose this race but I may play a flier on Icabad Crane and one small exacta without Big Brown using Icabad Crane, Giant Moon and Racecar Rhapsody just in case.Though most bets will center around the big favorite. Horse racing can be a funny game in that you never can be sure how a race will play out.