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.