Rain, rain, rain, rain, a little more rain and just for good measure how about a little more rain? That’s what’s on tap – no pun intended – for Friday’s Black-Eyed Susan Stakes Day card at Pimlico Race Course, the start of a monster two days of racing here in the Mid-Atlantic.
Despite the weather optimism from the Maryland Jockey Club racing office is high and rightfully so with seven stakes, four with fields of 10 or more entered, set for Friday. Word out of Pimlico was day’s two turf stakes – the Jim McKay Turf Sprint and the Hilltop – and the other grass races would stay, but that would change if the forecasted 2-plus inches of rain comes through Thursday night into Friday.
The handicappers are back to work for Preakness Weekend and looking to pick some winners. The Saratoga Special’s John Shapazian, to no one’s great surprise, and Joe Clancy lead the team of five heading into Friday with three winners apiece. Tom Law and John Cox picked a pair of winners over Kentucky Oaks-Kentucky Derby Weekend and are tied for third with Sean Clancy trailing with a single winner two weeks ago in Louisville.
Here are the team’s picks for Friday, May 18, Black-Eyed Susan Day. Good luck.
Skipat. $100,000, fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up, 6 furlongs. 1:34 p.m. EDT.
Vertical Oak returns to scene of blowout win in last year’s Grade 3 Miss Preakness and takes on Ms Locust Point and Startwthsilver in first stakes of the weekend. Vertical Oak is 5-for-10 going the 6-furlong trip, while her main opponents are also pretty sharp at the trip. Solid start to the day.
Joe: Ms Locust Point, Vertical Oak, Startwithsilver.
Sean: Vertical Oak, Ms Locust Point, Cairenn.
Tom: Ms Locust Point, Vertical Oak, Startwithsilver.
John Shapazian: Ms Locust Point, Vertical Oak, Cairenn.
John Cox: Cairenn, Startwithsilver, Ms Locust Point.
Adena Springs Miss Preakness (G3). $150,000, fillies, 3-year-olds, 6 furlongs. 2:39 p.m. EDT.
Brad Cox looks to keep good mojo rolling in sophomore filly division with the 2-for-2 Good Move. Klein Racing homebred daughter of Broken Vow hasn’t been out since March at Oaklawn but looks tough against Happy Like A Fool, Artistic Diva, Lezendary, Almond Roca and Limited View.
Sean: Good Move, Happy Like A Fool, Lezendary.
Tom: Good Move, Buy Sell Hold, Happy Like A Fool.
John Shapazian: Lezendary, Almond Roca, Purrfect Miss.
John Cox: Lezendary, Happy Like A Fool, Good Move.
Pimlico Special (G3). $300,000, 3-year-olds and up, 1 3/16 miles. 3:43 p.m. EDT.
One Liner, fresh off one of the more strange victories you’ll see at Keeneland, returns to stakes competition against the streaking Something Awesome, Wood Memorial winner and Belmont Stakes runner-up Irish War Cry, stablemate Hedge Fund and Ben Ali winner Rated R Superstar in solid renewal of traditional co-feature. Something Awesome might be the one to beat off three straight wins, including Grade 2 Charles Town Classic.
Sean: Something Awesome, Afleet Willy, One Liner.
Tom: Something Awesome, Irish War Cry, One Liner.
John Shapazian: One Liner, Hedge Fund, Irish War Cry.
John Cox: Something Awesome, One Liner, Hedge Fund.
Jim McKay Turf Sprint. $100,000, 3-year-olds and up, 5 furlongs, turf. 4:14 p.m. EDT.
Old reliable Hogy shortens back up to turf sprint – maybe – after ninth in Grade 1 Maker’s 46 Mile. He’s 8-for-21 with seven seconds going this trip and on at Sam Houston going 5 furlongs three starts back. Imprimis makes stakes debut off three straight wins for Joe Orseno, all at Gulfstream, while Oak Bluffs ended string of three seconds with a win in mid-February for Mary Eppler. Veteran Jersey-bred makes first start since.
Sean: Vici, Hogy, Pool Winner.
Tom: Rocket Heat, Hogy, Vici.
John Shapazian: Hogy, Imprimis, Oak Bluffs.
John Cox: Imprimis, Oak Bluffs, Hogy.
Black-Eyed Susan (G2). $250,000, fillies, 3-year-olds, 1 1/8 miles. 4:48 p.m. EDT.
The headliner of the day lost a bit with the expected scratch of Midnight Disguise but still features a field that includes Gulfstream Park Oaks winner Coach Rocks, Martha Washington winner Red Ruby, unbeaten Weber City Miss winner Goodonehoney and Gazelle runner-up Sara Street. Dale Romans won this race before with a filly running back on short rest from the Kentucky Oaks and Coach Rocks fits that bill, seventh two weeks ago in Louisville. Wonder if Rick Pitino will show?
Sean: Sara Street, Red Ruby, Goodonehoney.
Tom: Goodonehoney, Sara Street, Coach Rocks.
John Shapazian: Sara Street, Goodonehoney, C. S. Incharge.
John Cox: Goodonehoney, Sara Street, Coach Rocks.
Hilltop. $100,000, fillies, 3-year-olds, 1 mile, turf. 5:25 p.m. EDT.
Another one to watch the weather with 11 sophomore fillies expected to take to the grass, including multiple graded stakes winner and 3-5 favorite Thewayiam. She won three straight this winter at Gulfstream for Graham Motion, including the Grade 3 Sweetest Chant and Grade 3 Herecomesthebride, and lays over this group on her best day. If it comes off, take your pick.
Sean: Thewayiam, Secret Message, Judge Lee.
Tom: Thewayiam, Jehozacat, Souper Striking.
John Shapazian: Thewayiam, Jehozacat, Fairy Link.
John Cox: Thewayiam, Jehozacat, Peach Of A Gal.
Allaire du Pont Distaff (G3). $150,000, fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up, 1 1/8 miles. 5:57 p.m. EDT.
Blue Prize excels at the 9 furlongs of this race – she won the Grade 2 Falls City and Top Flight in her last two starts at the trip and gets rematch with Verve’s Tale. The latter chased her home third in the Top Flight and looks to rebound to form that landed her the Summer Colony back in August at Saratoga, with Blue Prize her closest pursuer. Two horse racing? When it looks like it sometimes it isn’t, so perhaps Fuhriosly Kissed or Song Of Spring mess up the chalk exacta.
Sean: Blue Prize, Verve’s Tale, Song Of Spring.
Tom: Blue Prize, Verve’s Tale, Song Of Spring.
John Shapazian: Blue Prize, Verve’s Tale, Song Of Spring.
John Cox: Blue Prize, Fuhriously Kissed, Verve’s Tale.