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Not Your Granddad’s Pimlico Special

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’s Biggest Threat is Not a “New Shooter”

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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.

The 138th Preakness Stakes is coming (Video by Maryland Racing)

Racing Beat: July 22

I’ve always wanted to go visit Chicago. If only I could make it there for the Arlington Million (I). Someday…

Pimlico made an awesome movie trailer-like tribute to I’ll Have Another over here. Watch it when you can.

Even horse racing paparazzi Adam “Moosh” had issues finding affordable headspace at Saratoga. Feels bad man!

Why the hell was Holy Candy the favorite in the Oceanside Stakes? Have you heard of Chips All In at all?

Not that I’ve been really impressed yet, but Almighty Brown is definitely my favorite two-year-old. Chestnut, blaze, and a son of Big Brown! Think he’ll be a grass-dirt freak like his dad?

The next star son of Galileo is named Mars. Easy one to remember.

Rest in peace to the legend Frank “Pancho” Martin, who otherwise probably would have had a Triple Crown winner in Sham.

The racing gods heard my bitching: Saratoga is offering free wi-fi backed by a Fastnet mobile wagering application. No more fighting off crowds! (Hopefully it works!)

If the feed’s been a little slow this past week post count-wise, it’s because I was mourning Union Rags. He’s not dead, but in a way it feels like he is. I felt the same way when Blind Luck was pulled out of contention last year.

Could Frankel beat Danedream in the Arc? Hmm…

Sorry race organizers! I do not want to run in your race to benefit tornado victims (still having issues around here?). Instead I want to spend the day nomming food and picking ponies in Saratoga. You were supposed to be held in September anyway!

Congrats to Barbaro's little brother Lentenor on a stakes win yesterday!

If it were up to Rick Porter, he’d breed his Horse of the Year Havre de Grace to Bernardini if he weren’t planning to sell her auction. No no no… pick something else… I don’t understand how people can say he is the best stallion on the market right now…

Looks like Godolphin has another live three-year-old filly this year with Questing [GB].

My first Bluegrass Cat love has been retired due to a liver inflammation. Cheers, Kathmanblu.

New name to add to the “best pony names” book: Thewifedoesntknow. And he’s cute!

Tweet o’ the Week

Every time I see images of these two, I am glad I was born just months after the 1989 Triple Crown. I would have had the hardest time ever trying to decide which one I liked better. Easy Goer was perhaps one of the best-looking and most talented three-year-olds in the picture, but Sunday Silence has this great fleeting beauty about him along with the tenacity expected of an underdog. (Photo by Cliff Owen)

Every time I see images of these two, I am glad I was born just months after the 1989 Triple Crown. I would have had the hardest time ever trying to decide which one I liked better. Easy Goer was perhaps one of the best-looking and most talented three-year-olds in the picture, but Sunday Silence has this great fleeting beauty about him along with the tenacity expected of an underdog. (Photo by Cliff Owen)

Wire Funds winning Race 5, 5 Furlong Allowance
© Merlinoftheroundtable

Wire Funds winning Race 5, 5 Furlong Allowance

© Merlinoftheroundtable

Maryland Sprint Handicap winner Hamazing Destiny
© Merlinoftheroundtable

Maryland Sprint Handicap winner Hamazing Destiny

© Merlinoftheroundtable

Exercise rider Johnny Garcia warms up I’ll Have Another (Photo by Patrick Smith)

Exercise rider Johnny Garcia warms up I’ll Have Another (Photo by Patrick Smith)

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Tracks visited: Calder, Saratoga, Belmont, Suffolk, Aqueduct.


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