2018 Preakness Day picks

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The saturation of the Mid-Atlantic region the last week isn’t quite on par with the biblical verse involving Noah, an Ark and 40 days and 40 nights of rain, but it’s pretty close. Steady and oftentimes super-soaking, the rain fell Thursday, Friday and is expected to continue into Saturday for all or part of the Preakness Stakes Day card.

How it will affect the two main players in the Preakness – Kentucky Derby winner Justify and champion Good Magic – doesn’t figure to be much of a factor considering how they handled it two weeks ago in Louisville. The rain will affect the seven other stakes on the card, including the four on the grass.

The Preakness Day card features eight stakes in all, topped of course by the $1.5 million Preakness. The main event goes as the 13th of the 14-race program with a post time of 6:48 p.m. EDT. NBC Sports Network will broadcast a majority of the program from 2:30-5 p.m. with the flagship NBC picking up the coverage at 5 p.m.

Our handicappers produced mixed results in the mud two weeks ago for the Kentucky Derby and, err, sloppy, returns again during Friday’s Black-Eyed Susan Day card.

Four of the five handicappers managed just one winner apiece. Sean started his day with Vertical Oak in the Skipat, John Cox and John Shapazian both tabbed Imprimis in the Jim McKay Turf Sprint and Tom selected Souper Striking (via a couple scratches), while Joe was blanked. The tally heading into Saturday sees Shapazian leading with six wins, Joe second with five, Tom and John Cox tied with three and Sean with two.

Here are the picks for Preakness Day 2018, Saturday, May 18. Good luck.

James W. Murphy. $100,000, 3-year-olds, 1 mile, turf. 12:51 p.m. EDT.

Coltandmississippi ran well in turf debut, finishing third and just a half-length behind Black Stetson in 6-furlong stakes last month at Aqueduct. He gets John Velazquez and would be formidable if the race moves off the grass, too. Say The Word needed six starts to break his maiden but looked good doing so last time at Keeneland going much longer.

Joe: Say The Word, Coltandmississippi, Tap Daddy.
Sean: Say The Word, Coltandmississippi, Threes Over Deuces.
Tom: Coltandmississippi, Say The Word, California Night.
John Shapazian: California Night, Say The Word, Coltandmississippi.
John Cox: Threes Over Deuces, Coltandmississippi, Black Stetson.

Dixie (G2). $250,000, 3-year-olds and up, 1 1/16 miles, turf. 2:07 p.m. EDT.

Traditional Preaknss Day undercard stakes used to be run right before the main event but not much sooner on the card. Champion and Breeders’ Cup Mile winner World Approval will be tough to beat in title defense, despite coming off fifth in last start in March.

Joe: World Approval, Divisidero, Fire Away.
Sean: World Approval, Just Howard, Unbridled Juan.
Tom: World Approval, Fire Away, Divisidero.
John Shapazian: World Approval, Fire Away, Frostmourne.
John Cox: World Approval, Fire Away, Frostmourne.

Chick Lang. $200,000, 3-year-olds, 6 furlongs. 2:45 p.m. EDT.

Mitole was extremely formidable in Hot Springs this winter and spring, winning three of five with two seconds. His most recent victory was a 9-length laugher in the Bachelor Stakes and he takes on a mixed bag in this heat with Still Having Fun cutting back to one turn, Curly’s Rocket making stakes debut, Soutache looking to improve on second in Grade 3 Hutcheson and Run Away coming off the bench for Simon Callaghan.

Joe: Mitole, Curly’s Rocket, Still Having Fun.
Sean: Mitole, Still Having Fun, Curly’s Rocket.
Tom: Mitole, Curly’s Rocket, Still Having Fun.
John Shapazian: Mitole, Curly’s Rocket, Pure Shot.
John Cox: Mitole, Curly’s Rocket, Run Away.

Gallorette (G3). $150,000, fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up, 1 1/16 miles, turf. 3:25 p.m. EDT.

Older females take the grass – we think – and Cambodia returns to defend title in traditional Preakness undercard fixture. She won last year by 2 lengths and jump started strong season that also included pair of Grade 2 victories in Southern California. Elysea’s World finished third in last year’s Gallorette and is back for Chad Brown while Graham Motion (Ultra Brat), Michael Stidham (Stallion Heiress) and Christophe Clement (Blessed Silence) send out live runners.

Joe: Blessed Silence, Cambodia, Elysea’s World.
Sean: Blessed Silence, Elysea’s World, Special Event.
Tom: Cambodia, Special Event, Elysea’s World.
John Shapazian: Cambodia, Ultra Brat, Elysea’s World.
John Cox: Elysea’s World, Ultra Brat, Cambodia.

Maryland Sprint (G3). $150,000, 3-year-olds and up, 6 furlongs. 4:05 p.m. EDT.

No Whitmore this year unfortunately but still a strong field led by New York-bred Long Haul Bay. Son of Quality Road came out of Grade 2 Woody Stephens not quite right last spring, went to the sidelines for more than 10 months. Returned a winner in state-bred optional last month at Aqueduct. Switzerland could vie for favorite’s role off three straight wins for Steve Asmussen, while Lewisfield and Irish Colonel could be tough.

Joe: Switzerland, Long Haul Bay, Heartwood.
Sean: Switzerland, Long Haul Bay, Lewisfield.
Tom: Long Haul Bay, Switzerland, Lewisfield.
John Shapazian: Switzerland, Long Haul Bay, Red Dragoon Tattoo.
John Cox: Switzerland, Long Haul Bay, Lewisfield.

The Very One. $100,000, fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up, 5 furlongs, turf. 4:42 p.m. EDT.

Another turf stakes possibly in jeopardy and one with a full field of 14 to boot. Girls Know Best found a new home on the grass and exits 6-length victory on yielding ground at Keeneland looking for her second stakes win of the year for Eddie Kenneally. She takes on balanced group that includes Chanteline, Anna’s Bandit, Smiling Causeway and Just Talkin. Smiling Causeway makes 2018 debut and first start since Dec. 30 for Arnaud Delacour, who trained daughter of Giant’s Causeway to four wins and three seconds from seven starts.

Joe: Smiling Causeway, Girls Know Best, Jessica Krupnick.
Sean: Smiling Causeway, Anna’s Bandit, Boos.
Tom: Smiling Causeway, Just Talkin, Girls Know Best.
John Shapazian: Girls Know Best, Just Talkin, Smiling Causeway.
John Cox: Chanteline, Just Talkin, Smiling Causeway.

LARC Sir Barton. $100,000, 3-year-olds, 1 1/16 miles. 5:39 p.m. EDT.

The 3-year-olds not quite ready for the prime time go two turns in race that has produced its share of top winners, including Belmont Stakes winner Sarava. American Freedom and Broken Vow. Could Ax Man be the next good one? Son of Misremembered impressed in his most recent start going two turns and 1 mile at Santa Anita for Bob Baffert. Title Ready looked like a colt on the rise for Steve Asmussen after debut allowance score at Oaklawn then lost his way with back-to-back fourths in stakes in Hot Springs.

Joe: Ax Man, Forest Fire, Pony Up.
Sean: Ax Man, Pony Up, Navy Commander.
Tom: Ax Man, Pony Up, Dream Baby Dream.
John Shapazian: Ax Man, Forest Fire, Pony Up.
John Cox: Forest Fire, Axe Man, Dream Baby Dream.

Preakness (G1). $1.5 million, 3-year-olds, 1 3/16 miles. 6:48 p.m. EDT.

The main event and it’s all about Justify. He ended those clinging to a so-called curse in Louisville and dominated 19 others winning the Kentucky Derby in just his fourth start. Now he returns in two weeks for Bob Baffert, who has yet to lose a Preakness with a Derby winner. He’s also won the race two other times before and a win here gives him No. 7 in his Hall of Fame career. Good Magic came closest in the Derby, finishing 2 1/2 lengths back in second, and looks to give Chad Brown back-to-back winners in the race. The rest, well, let’s just say they are most likely running for minor awards. Unless there’s some chaos with the top two, then it’s anyone’s guess.

Joe: Justify, Quip, Lone Sailor, Sporting Chance.
Sean: Justify, Tenfold, Quip, Good Magic.
Tom: Justify, Good Magic, Lone Sailor, Diamond King.
John Shapazian: Justified, Quip, Good Magic, Diamond King.
John Cox: Justify, Good Magic, Quip, Tenfold.