All stakes, all day. That’s the flavor – along with crab cakes, Black-Eyed Susans and maybe a Duckpin or two from Union Craft Brewing for those at home – for Saturday’s Preakness Day card at Pimlico Race Course.
Preakness Day 2020 comes on the first Saturday in October this year instead of the usual third Saturday in May, delayed because of the ongoing pandemic.
The date changed but the stacked deck for the day’s races continues with deep and competitive fields for the 10 stakes leading up to the Preakness and one final puzzle with an Arabian stakes to close the card. That’s right, Arabians. At Pimlico. In October. Buckle up for Baltimore’s big day of action.
The Saratoga Special handicappers are back for another go Saturday along with heads of ST Publishing, Sean Clancy and Joe Clancy, and offer their picks for the 12-race card. Everything start at 11 a.m. ET – a half-hour later than usual for Preakness Day – and goes through the finale at 6:23.
The headliner, led by Kentucky Derby winner Authentic, Toyota Blue Grass winner Art Collector and Grade 1-winning filly Swiss Skydiver, goes as the 11th race at 5:36 p.m. NBC carries the race live from 4:30 to 6 p.m. while our friends at Horse Racing Radio Network cover the race – along with Saturday’s card from Keeneland that is part of FallStars Weekend – from 4-6 p.m.
Here are the picks from the team. Be safe, stay healthy and good luck.
Selima. $150,000, 2-year-olds, fillies, 1 1/16 miles, turf. 11 a.m. EDT.
The card starts with a bit of a puzzler with the four major players in the field of eight lined up from the rail out – Fluffy Socks, Golden Voice, Invincible Gal and Domain Expertise. We saw all but Golden Voice at Saratoga.
John Shapazian: Domain Expertise, Invincible Gal, Fluffy Socks.
Tom Law: Domain Expertise, Invincible Gal, Golden Voice.
Charles Bedard: Golden Voice, Zeyaraat, Celestial Cheetah.
Joe: Invincible Gal, Domain Expertise, Golden Voice.
Sean: Invincible Gal, Line Dancing, Domain Expertise.
Gallorette (G3). $150,000, 3-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, 1 1/16 miles, turf. 11:35 a.m.
Preakness Day fixture with a field of eight that includes main track only runner Wicked Awesome. Juliet Foxtrot figures to be a short price off close fourth in Distaff Turf Mile on Kentucky Derby Day but she’s winless since last July, a string of six defeats. Plenty of potential upsetters with legitimate chances including fellow Kentucky shippers She’sonthewarpath and Storm The Hill and Varenka down from Fair Hill.
John Shapazian: Wicked Awesome, Juliet Foxtrot, She’sonthewarpath.
Tom Law: Juliet Foxtrot, Varenka, She’sonthewarpath.
Charles Bedard: Juliet Foxtrot, Varenka, Storm The Hill.
Joe: Juliet Foxtrot, Varenka, No Mo Lady.
Sean: Juliet Foxtrot, No Mo Lady, Varenka.
Skipat. $100,000, 3-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, 6 furlongs. 12:10 p.m.
Chalon back to defend title in sprint stakes off decent runner-up to Never Enough Time, who she meets again. Those two come out of the Alma North, which also produced potential longshot upsetter Last True Love.
John Shapazian: Bye Bye J, Liza Star, Bronx Beauty.
Tom Law: Never Enough Time, Chalon, Bye Bye J.
Charles Bedard: Bye Bye J, Chalon, Liza Star.
Joe: Chalon, Never Enough Time, Bye Bye J.
Sean: Never Enough Time, Chalon, Liza Star.
Hilltop. $100,000, 3-year-olds, fillies, 1 mile, turf, 12:46 p.m.
Time to get serious. Field of 13 entered for third grass stakes on the card and per usual it’s a mixed bag from locals, shippers and European imports. Viglantes Way pegged as 9-2 favorite coming out of off-the-turf laugher in Laurel Park optional for Shug McGaughey, while 5-1 second choice Chart ships in from Canada off stakes win for Mark Casse.
John Shapazian: Chart, Secret Time, American Giant.
Tom Law: Princess Grace, Aunt Nadine, Shimmering.
Charles Bedard: Evil Lyn, Secret Time, Lucky Jingle.
Joe: Caravel, Shimmering, Chart.
Sean: Caravel, Princess Grace, Secret Time.
Miss Preakness (G3). $150,000, 3-year-olds, fillies, 6 furlongs. 1:22 p.m.
Brad Cox looks for another with favored Mundaye Call, blowout winner of the Audubon Oaks at Ellis Park coming off fourth in Grade 2 Eight Belles on Kentucky Oaks Day undercard. Daughter of Into Mischief shortens back up here against six others that look overmatched.
John Shapazian: Mundaye Call, Sound Machine, Fly On Angel.
Tom Law: Mundaye Call, Wicked Whisper, Ain’t No Elmers.
Charles Bedard: Mundaye Call, Ain’t No Elmers, Fly On Angel.
Joe: Wicked Whisper, Mundaye Call, Ain't No Elmers.
Sean: Mundaye Call, Sound Machine, Wicked Whisper.
Dinner Party (G2). $250,000, 3-year-olds and up, 1 1/16 miles, turf. 2:01 p.m.
The former Dixie, which actually was the former Dinner Party, attracts field of seven on a weekend that also features Joe Hirsch Turf Classic, Shadwell Turf Mile and City of Hope Mile. Factor This probably could gave gone in any of those but Brad Cox opts for Old Hilltop with son of The Factor, who finished close second to Digital Age in Grade 1 Old Forester Turf Classic last time out at Churchill.
John Shapazian: Factor This, Doctor Mounty, Somelikeithotbrown.
Tom Law: Factor This, Somelikeithotbrown, Hembree.
Charles Bedard: Factor This, Hembree, Doctor Mounty.
Joe: Factor This, Doctor Mounty, True Valour.
Sean: Factor This, Doctor Mounty, O Dionysus.
Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (G3). $200,000, 3-year-olds and up, 6 furlongs. 2:42 p.m.
Longtime Maryland fixture moves to Preakness Day, essentially replacing the Grade 3 Maryland Turf Sprint run at same distance under similar conditions. Eight entered but Stan The Man and Midtowncharlybrown not expected to go, leaving Landeskog and Admiral Lynch the two main players. They were before those scratches, off wins at Ellis and Saratoga, respectively.
John Shapazian: Landeskog, Krsto Skye, Admiral Lynch.
Tom Law: Landeskog, Laki, Nitrous.
Charles Bedard: Landeskog, Laki, Admiral Lynch.
Joe: Laki, Nitrous, Landeskog.
Sean: Landeskog, Eastern Bay, Laki.
Laurel Futurity. $150,000, 2-year-olds, 1 1/16 miles, turf. 3:22 p.m.
Another traditional autumn event moved to Preakness Day card and one of the state’s most historic events, won by the likes of Citation, Quadrangle, In Reality, Riva Ridge, Secretariat, Affirmed, Spectacular Bid, Deputy Minister, Devil’s Bag and Bet Twice. That was when it was a dirt race, and sometimes even a Grade 1. Now it’s grass and still potentially useful prep for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.
John Shapazian: Pivotal Mission, Wootton Asset, Arrest Me Red.
Tom Law: Pivotal Mission, Hidden Enemy, Nautilus.
Charles Bedard: Pivotal Mission, Nautilus, Catman.
Joe: Wootton Asset, Hidden Enemy, Pivotal Mission.
Sean: Pivotal Mission, Arrest Me Red, Hidden Enemy.
James W. Murphy. $100,000, 3-year-olds, 1 mile, turf. 4:02 p.m.
Full field of 14 entered for another puzzler on the grass. Bye Bye Melvin and Don Juan Kitten, 1-2 in the Grade 3 Saranac closing weekend at Saratoga, top the field that also includes Buy Land And See, Chocolate Bar, Vanzzy and Monday Morning Qb. The latter makes his turf debut and pedigree – by Imagining out of a Not For Love mare (who’s only win came at 43-1 on the dirt, however) – suggests he should handle it.
John Shapazian: Chocolate Bar, Monday Morning Qb, Don Juan Kitten.
Tom Law: Bye Bye Melvin, Monday Morning Qb, Don Juan Kitten.
Charles Bedard: Don Juan Kitten, Chocolate Bar, Buy Land And See.
Joe: Monday Morning Qb, Bye Bye Melvin, Reconvene.
Sean: Buy Land And See, Bye Bye Melvin, Don Juan Kitten.
Black-Eyed Susan (G2). $250,000, 3-year-olds, fillies, 1 1/8 miles. 4:41 p.m.
The former Friday headliner also shifts for 2020 and draws two from the Kentucky Oaks in longshot also-rans Dream Marie and Hopeful Growth and Alabama runner-up Bonny South. The latter figures to be heavy favorite for Brad Cox off that Alabama effort and decent fourth behind Speech and Venetian Harbor two back in the Grade 1 Ashland. She doesn’t meet the likes of Swiss Skydiver or those two from the Ashland here.
John Shapazian: Bonny South, So Darn Hot, Hopeful Growth.
Tom Law: Bonny South, Perfect Alibi, Sharp Star.
Charles Bedard: Bonny South, Hopeful Growth, Mizzen Beau.
Joe: Bonny South, So Darn Hot, Project Whiskey.
Sean: Bonny South, So Darn Hot, Landing Zone.
Preakness (G1). $1 million, 3-year-olds, 1 3/16 miles, 5:36 p.m.
The main event and final jewel of the most bizarre Triple Crown in history. Field doesn’t seem all that abnormal to what we might see in May, with the Derby winner (Authentic), Derby third (Mr. Big News), a few Derby also-rans (Ny Traffic and Max Player) and new shooters coming out of graded stakes. Thousand Words doesn’t necessarily fit any of those categories, after being forced to scratch from the Derby when he reared and fell in the paddock before the race. He’s a major player for Bob Baffert, who seeks his record eighth Preakness with that son of Pioneerof The Nile and of course Authentic. Tommy Drury looks to win it for the “little guys” with Blue Grass and Ellis Park Derby winner Art Collector, who figured to be a top threat in the Derby before scratching with a minor foot injury. And then there’s Swiss Skydiver, runner-up in the Kentucky Oaks who handled 10 furlongs with ease winning the Alabama Stakes this summer at Saratoga. She faced males before, finishing second to Art Collector in the Blue Grass.
John Shapazian: Authentic, Art Collector, Mr. Big News.
Tom Law: Swiss Skydiver, Mr. Big News, Thousand Words.
Charles Bedard: Swiss Skydiver, Authentic, Art Collector.
Joe: Art Collector, Authentic, Thousand Words.
Sean: Art Collector, Authentic, Pneumatic.
UAE President Cup. $100,000, Arabians, 4-year-olds and up, 1 1/16 miles. 6:23 p.m.
We can confirm this first, we’ve never handicapped or offered selections on an Arabaian race here at thisishorseracing.com. Interesting way to finish off a strange – to say the least – Triple Crown series. So who’s the winner? How about Quick Sand Aa (ignore that last A in the program or Form, that’s to denote Arabian). We’re not sure what the others mean, but we know this 7-year-old has won 14 of 30, including two of four this year.
John Shapazian: Quick Sand Aa, Rb Rich Like Me, Dance With Me Bw.
Tom Law: Quick Sand Aa, Dance With Me Bw, Iridesse.
Charles Bedard: Quick Sand Aa, Uptown Sandy Girl, Dance With Me Bw.
Joe: Iridesse, Uptown Sandy Girl, Rb Rich Lyke Me.
Sean: Iridesse, Dance With Me Bw, Quick Sand.