Hi again everyone! After a long break, I am excited to get back to “officially” handicapping… I say official because I picked Freedom Child to win the Peter Pan (II) on my Twitter, but it kind of disqualifies me if I didn’t put it on blast. Anyway, as a favor to Reinier and a litmus test to my luck this weekend, how about an overview for today’s historic Pimlico Special (III) for older handicap horses?
$300,000 Pimlico Special (III) - 4-Year-Olds & Up. 1 3/16 miles on dirt at Pimlico Race Course. Post Time: Friday, May 17 at 5:52pm EST.
[Post Position, Horse - Jockey, Impost, Trainer - Summary, Opinion in italics]
1) Avenida Paseo is a late-scratch
2) Indian Dance - Luis Garcia, 118 lbs, Lawrence Murphy - The Maryland-bred gelding by Indian Charlie won his last start by a smidgen here at Pimlico, edging out favored Hakama to win by a nose going 1 1/16 miles. That victory was the gelding’s first since 2010, after competing in the occasional graded stakes without success. Breeding-wise, this isn’t the race for him. Class-wise, this isn’t the race for him. He could improve off that last start some more after a layoff, but by how much is questionable.
3) Brimstone Island - Xavier Perez, 118 lbs, Wayne Campbell - A winner in last year’s Preakness undercard, the Tiznow colt is gunning for his fourth consecutive win. He has only been running in allowances, with his last graded attempt being a hopeless 6th in the Smarty Jones (III) his 2-year-old year in the slop. A colt with some hidden class, this is not an impossible field and Perez is a high percentage rider at Pimlico already with 21%. His breeding suggests route potential, and his speed figures are consistently good.
4) Eighttofasttocatch - Forest Boyce, 124 lbs, Tim Keefe - A local favorite, the Not for Love gelding is hot off a commanding 5-length win in a Pimlico stake last month in the mud. Keen to be making the pace, he tired badly in last year’s Special to finish 9th and hasn’t done a graded stakes since then. Keefe is a high percentage trainer so far this year, and Eighttofasttocatch sports some sizzling figures. If he can be rated, he win, but even with that mindset he has struggled with the class and distance jump in the past and may be overbet.
5) Richard’s Kid - Rosie Napravnik, 118 lbs, Doug O’Neill - A dominant force that has won many graded events, the Lemon Drop Kid shipper is the keen veteran coming in for the race after being disqualified to 7th in the Alysheba (II). Richard’s Kid has struggled to reach the winner’s circle since trading barns from Baffert to O’Neill, with his last win being in July 2012. The distance will suit Richard’s Kid well and with O’Neill’s successful ship rate and Napravnik’s good riding skills, he is not without a chance to close into a fast pace should it present itself. However, he has had this opportunity before and hasn’t acted on it, and being an 8-year-old this year, is it time to call it a career— even in a pretty easy field? Richard’s Kid hasn’t been the same super classy horse in a while.
6) Concealed Identity - Angel Serpa, 124 lbs, Linda Gaudet - The Smarty Jones gelding ruled the slop earlier in the year while winning a 9-furlong stake at Laurel, but lost to Eighttofasttocatch in that gelding’s most recent romp and was traded to turf unsuccessfully recently. Kind of a “meh” horse, he could win this if he can keep pace with Eighttofasttocatch this time, but is an on again, off again type. I wouldn’t go with him unless he had some really attractive odds… I think he can outlast Eighttofasttocatch at this distance should the track decide to not favor early speed.
7) Last Gunfighter - Javier Castellano, 124 lbs, Chad Brown - Bound to take the lion’s share of the winning pool after his most recent G3 win in the Excelsior to mark 5 wins in a row, the First Samurai colt is the scary shipper coming in. I’m not terribly keen on his overall class, but with his consistency no matter what setup he gets, he’s got an excellent shot to win this race upgrading to Castellano off a string of wins and lively works. He’ll get a clean break and likely move up from there. He looks like the solid favorite with a sharp 4 panel work, but the one blight on his record is the long layoff he’ll be shipping off of, with all of his recent success coming from New York tracks.
Top Picks in Order:
1) Brimstone Island
2) Last Gunfighter
3) Richard’s Kid
I imagine Eighttofasttocatch will try to rate the whole way around, and while he can win this way, I think the distance will get to him. Brimstone Island looks ready off his consistent record with his Pimlico experience and route breeding, can take this with some attractive odds. Last Gunfighter will take all the money, but shipping out off a layoff might hurt his class in the end. Richard’s Kid will try to close in late with Napravnik, but I’m sold that he’s done despite being the most accomplished in the field. Use Brimstone Island and Last Gunfighter for your double tickets.
Orb (Photo by HRTV)
thoughtsonracinglifeandmore asked: The problem with Itsmyluckday is how the trainer has kidgloved him since that big win over Shanghai Bobby. 1:43 for a mile heading into the Kentucky Derby? That wasn't a good sign. Neither was the 4 F work over 50 seconds. The trainer thought he did the right thing...but he probably dulled him a bit.
BACKSEAT TRAINER DISEASE IS BACK, EVERYONE! ;P
I’m so game to use Itsmyluckyday somehow tomorrow, the colt is looking cranked. I think Orb is better, but neither one got an optimal post position and I still don’t know the depth of Lucky’s ability for sure… Gulfstream’s been way too fast and Shanghai Bobby wasn’t anything to applaud.
Handicapping the race today, but yeah, perhaps you are right. Plesa might have had a better horse on deck if he worked him a bit harder. Lucky wasn’t up to speed in the Florida Derby after a longer-than-usual layoff and wasn’t ready to go.
Less than two weeks ago, Shug McGaughey’s Orb logged a decisive win in the Kentucky Derby, splashing home in the mud to outkick them all as clearly the best horse in the field. While I am still weighing whether or not he can win the elusive Triple Crown, confidence is high that he can win the Preakness in equally easy fashion. However, now that everyone is acutely aware of the horse to beat, Orb does have a few horses to beat, and his main challenge looks to be none other than Itsmyluckyday.
Both “Lucky” and Orb found themselves in my top 5 Derby list, and while Orb proved superior that day, Lucky has been showing signs he’s back to fighting trim and looks dangerous on a fast, dry track.
The son of Lawyer Ron logged an impressive final breeze at Monmouth this week, sweeping over the New Jersey track easy-peasy to register 4 panels in :47 1/5, out 5 furlongs in :59 3/5 with regular Elvis Trujillo aboard for the work, which was held between the 3rd and 4th races. The colt spun his first quarter in a rapid :23.8 and the second in :23.4 seconds. All in hand. Did I mention that the titanic John Velazquez has been booked to ride Lucky on Saturday?
Meanwhile, Orb finished up his short vacation at Belmont Park with a final and promising work before boarding the Sallie horse van to Pimlico. The Derby winner looked every bit as relaxed and sharp as he was in his final work before the Kentucky Derby, logging a :47 1/5 half mile (just a hair fractionally slower than Lucky) and was out in :59.54 without urging. Orb’s first quarter was clocked in :24.47, and really hit his best, most reaching stride late visually. The clock agreed with the second quarter clocked in :22.71.
Orb looks the picture of perfection right now, but may be up to a new challenge in the form of shipping to a new track again and facing horses who may fare better now that mud is out of the picture. It will be tough to outgame him and outfoot him, but a few horses in this field might be able to do it with the right trip. Itsmyluckyday is especially threatening as a pace stalker with a big stretch run lying in wait.
At the moment, these are my exacta horses, with new shooter and Illinois Derby winner Departing and 5th place horse Mylute bringing up the tail of the second jewel. Departing and Mylute both had easy maintenance works to prepare for the race. I think highly of both, especially as improving horses, but do not put them in the winning spot. As for “overrated” entries, Will Take Charge takes the cake.
Guess who this is? YES, this is Sweet Ducky, who was sold to the sketchy president of Chechnya, racing in Russia. He was last seen running 2nd to Dialed In in the 2011 Holy Bull Stakes (II). He hasn’t done a whole lot since then, but I know he had a lot of fans while he was here racing under George and Lori Hall’s colors. (Photo from Instagram)
After a Derby week and recovery time/finals time hiatus, Racing Beat is back to clog up your sluggish Sunday feed!
How cool would it be if Pletcher entered Dreaming of Julia in the Belmont? He commented she wouldn’t be ready for a Preakness run after the Oaks soooo maybe another Rags to Riches attempt? YES PLEASE. (Two-weeks-later-edit: Seems my dreams of Julia is going to happen! Aw yeah!)
Poor Hollywood Park. If I do indeed get that full-time spot in the coming weeks like I hope, I may think about going out there just so I can soak in one of Zenyatta’s old stomping grounds before they tear it down. *Sigh* Who’s good at finding good cheap flights?
Oh Godolphin, getting desperate are we? Still, that was the quickest sentencing I’ve seen… why can’t we do that in the States?
One of the nice things about the Doug O’Neill camp is how much they believe in their horses and are all too willing to send in a possible bomber. But Handsome Mike to Royal Ascot? Against Shea Shea? *shrugs*
If I can save enough money, I have big Saratoga plans this year that involve me staying overnight here. *squee*
A full sister to 2007 Kentucky Derby winner/handsome stud Street Sense has been foaled at Darley America. Unf.
I feel like registering for a 5K mud race after the Kentucky Derby so I can pretend to be Orb mwahahaha if only those poseur races weren’t flipping expensive I might be more serious discussing this.
My mind has been off how Power Broker is moving forward and concentrating more on when Rolling Fog is coming back. Add Power Broker to the Belmont possibles list as well after his recent comeback win.
Some find the Ramsey family to be obnoxious or annoying, but let’s reward them for the fact that they claimed back their gelding Pleasant Prince recently, a recognizable older horse that has made appearances in the Breeders’ Cup Marathon as well as the Classic in the past.
Sweet baby Atigun won his race, but sweet baby Java’s War was dusted. So much sad THIS IS JULIEN’S FAULT YES THAT’S IT.
Add Freedom Child to your watch list for the Belmont Stakes as well as Tenango, who isn’t an “official” possible yet but one can assume things…
Rest in peace to Nehro, my beloved 2011 Kentucky Derby horse I really wanted to see in person, and to Chilled, the “savage” horse who was DQ’d to second in this famous 2012 photo.
Tweet o’ the Week: I love her already (by Istan)
Happy Mother’s Day everyone, celebrating all mothers everywhere! Here’s one of my favorite equine moms Pilfer— To Honor and Serve’s mom— with her ‘12 Bernardini filly. (Photo by Siena Farm)
I made a checklist— as I often do for the big classic-type races— listing all the qualities the Derby winner ought to have: 10 furlong ability (as judged by me), pedigree, in peak form, decent post position, how their last workout was, how they like dirt, class level, and mental tenacity. I knew it was a crappy field when I saw that only 2 horses had straight check marks: Revolutionary (3rd) and Orb (1st). Orb certainly deserved the win today, which he would have gotten whether or not Palace Malice decided to floor it from the start. On to the Preakness!
Also, I was kind of giddy to see Golden Soul get right up there, and I am quite happy with the top 7 or 8 finishers who all ran pretty well like I thought. I just had no idea what to expect in the mud when it came to the finish order. I made no money, but hey, I’m happy about being right about Verrazano and Goldencents! At least in the mud…
As all horse handicappers know, expecting big performances back-to-back is dreamer’s logic. With that said, I will be taking a short break from racing and handicapping starting today. Working, driving 3 hours a day 4 days a week, 5 classes during crunch time, filming productions, readying side projects for pre-production, and pouring over horse racing has worn me down a little and I think it’s time for a little hiatus.
I expect I should be back to normal in time for Preakness week. In the meantime, congrats to Orb! I plan to sleep on it before I decide whether or not I feel like Orb can win the Triple Crown this year.
Good afternoon all. I am so so mad at how much it’s been raining over at Churchill Downs so I’m being a butt about not making very many picks. I just am not a gifted slop-capper and more often than not, it yields goofy results making good horses lose for whatever reason. Oaks picks that I posted on Twitter, but was not able to post on here yesterday:
Yeah, would have been magical if she won, but what a crappy race it was anyway. I knew someone was apt to catch Beholder. Good going to Princess of Sylmar.
Now on to my personal Derby “picks”. I have no idea how well most of these stand up to a muddy going, so I won’t be too harsh on myself should they all fail miserably:
5) Orb - It’s really been hard to knock a horse that keeps getting better, had flourishing works at Churchill all week, and seems naturally fit for the job of winning a 10-furlong race. Orb checks off all the boxes so to speak and other than a post position that might squeeze him in early on, I’m not too worried about him doing well, and he may even win. Acceptable odds: 4-1
4) Frac Daddy - Although his preparation trail has been riddled with misses and poor trips, Frac Daddy made a big run last out in the Arkansas Derby to be a late second to Overanalyze. Initially, if someone were to tell me this I would be unimpressed because well, I don’t like Overanalyze in the slightest bit, BUT consider the fact Frac Daddy has been looking amazing working at Churchill AND he has a win there at the track ALONG WITH a close runner-up last year in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes to Uncaptured. His three-year-old year has been largely problematic, but I think we can blame the trip notes on that. With a clear outer post that will keep him out of trouble, this is the number 1 longshot on my list that I think has a shot of running big. He has plenty of speed in his pedigree that has been built to last with front-running Classic winner Skip Away as his damsire, and trainer Ken McPeek has a gift for live longshots. Acceptable odds: 25-1
3) Java’s War - I’ve learned over the years to not take the “little horse” lightly, as in 2010 when I disregarded the mighty mouse known as Santiva who ran full-hearted to a pretty good finish in the Derby. And that was just one mention out of a pile of mentionworthy pint-sized ponies. Java’s War is compact, but beautifully muscled out as I noted back in the Tampa Bay Derby (II), which was his first start back in months as he roared to make a late run at Verrazano before winning the Blue Grass (I). Whether or not turf is his best surface, Java still runs beautifully and Blue Grass runners have a history of doing well in the Derby (hey even Dullahan mustered a 3rd!). His 3rd start back should be even better and I ain’t afraid of no outer post! Charles Fipke also has a respectable breeding program (and yes, I do like Golden Soul too). Acceptable odds: 15-1
2) Itsmyluckyday -Horses who run close to the pace have had a documented note of success in the Kentucky Derby, many of them coming from the Florida preps. Add to this fact that horses that train at Calder Race Course do pretty well for themselves at Churchill Downs, and “Lucky” has been training there up to this race. He was a sullied runner-up to Orb in the Florida Derby, yes, but he was coming up off a 2 month layoff, which is pretty substantial. Lucky has been putting up impressive numbers and races since his two-year-old year and he looks to have gotten better as a three-year-old with the pedigree possibility of running even further.
The fact that I have included a Lawyer Ron son in my top 5 says a lot. Itsmyluckyday will be at big odds compared to how big his ability is. Eddie Plesa seemed pleasant and optimistic about his colt’s chances, and he’s got the speed and mental stability I like to see in a horse going forward into a race of this magnitude. Acceptable odds: 10-1
1) Normandy Invasion - Makes the top spot. I just love how huge and gifted this horse is and I think he is only going to get better when he gets 10 furlongs despite some questions about his weight and worth as a G1 dirt horse. Yes, I realize Alysheba was the last horse to win the Derby with just one prior win, but I’m willing to buck that “history handicap” because Normmy ran some really great losing efforts at 9 furlongs and has been warming up beautifully for his 3rd start back. Chad Brown is a trainer I really enjoy following who has a knack for getting distance out of his horses, and Javier Castellano is one of my top jockeys. It’s been 5 years since Eight Belles fell down for Fox Hill Farms and one year since Javier regrettably sacrificed the ride on Union Rags. He’s dodging Pletcher’s stable on the Derby this year for a horse he believes in. Let’s go, Normmy! Acceptable odds: 12-1
If Java’s War, Normandy Invasion, Itsmyluckyday, Orb, Mylute, Palace Malice, or Revolutionary wins the Kentucky Derby / if Rose to Gold, Close Hatches, Pure Fun, Beholder, Midnight Lucky, or Dreaming of Julia wins the Oaks:
If Golden Soul, Oxbow, Will Take Charge, Lines of Battle, Verrazano, Black Onyx, or Frac Daddy wins the Derby / if Unlimited Budget, Princess of Sylmar, Seaneen Girl, or Silsita wins the Oaks:
If Falling Sky, Goldencents, Charming Kitten, Overanalyze, or Giant Finish wins the Derby
When Wise Dan and Point of Entry step out onto the track together:
If anypony gets hurt or Believe You Can and Atigun don’t win or one of my gushy favorites has to scratch:
If my picks go terribly awry:
LOTS OF EMOTIONS ARE ON THE LINE FOR THIS WEEKEND. As you can tell, I don’t despise anyone in the Oaks this year…