Preakness Day stakes picks

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Kentucky Derby winner Mystik Dan takes aim at the second jewel of the Triple Crown Saturday in the 149th renewal of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course. Maryland Jockey Club Photo.

Here we are, in Baltimore with all roads pointing to the 149th Preakness Stakes.

The middle jewel of the Triple Crown always seems to take its share of bumps and bruises and 2024 will be no exception with the defection of morning-line favorite Muth this week.

A strong field remains for the $2 million headliner, which goes a good 8 1/2 hours after the first race (10:30 a.m.) on Preakness Day. Buckle up because there is plenty of action between the start and the finish, with eight stakes to keep you busy and hopefully padding the bankroll. 

John Shapazian and Tom Law led the way on Black-Eyed Susan Day, picking three winners apiece. John came up with She Feels Pretty in the Hilltop, Future Is Now in the The Very One and Gun Song in the Black-Eyed Susan. Tom picked Shotgun Hottie in the Allaire du Pont, She Feels Pretty and Future Is Now.

Joe Clancy, Alec DiConza and Rob Whitlock came up with a pair of winners Friday, while Paul Halloran, Sean Clancy and Jessica Paquette picked one winner. Charles Bedard was blanked.

John leads on the season with eight wins, two more than Joe, Alec and Tom. Rob, Charles and Sean each have five with Jessica (three) and Paul (two) trailing the field.

Here are the picks for the Preakness Day stakes at Pimlico. Enjoy, be safe and good luck.

Skipat Stakes. $100,000, fillies & mares, 3-year-olds & up, 6 furlongs. 12:16 p.m.

Relatively short field of seven for lead-off event on the big day. Apple Picker comes off back-to-back graded stakes, including a victory in the Grade 3 Barbara Fritchie two starts back, for trainer Brittany Russell. She won small stakes at Pimlico last September. Disco Ebo drew just to her inside and figures to be the speed of the race with Irad Ortiz Jr. Winner of the Primonetta last time out for Butch Reid, Pennsylvania-bred daughter of Weigelia is 11-for-22 in her career with six of those wins at 6 furlongs.

  • John Shapazian: Apple Picker, Disco Ebo, Sweet Shild O Mine.
  • Rob Whitlock: Sweet Shild O Mine, Apple Picker, Disco Ebo.
  • Tom Law: Disco Ebo, Royal Poppy, Apple Picker.
  • Jessica Paquette:Late Frost, Disco Ebo, Apple Picker.
  • Alec DiConza: Disco Ebo, Sweet Shild O Mine, Apple Picker.
  • Sean Clancy: Apple Picker, Disco Ebo, Royal Poppy.
  • Paul Halloran: Disco Ebo, Royal Poppy, Apple Picker.
  • Charles Bedard: Late Frost, Apple Picker, Disco Ebo.
  • Joe: Swall, Disco Ebo, Apple Picker.
Chick Lang Stakes (G3). $200,000, 3-year-olds, 6 furlongs. 1:28 p.m.

Frost Free chased some good ones in Nash, Carbone and Valentine Candy down in Hot Springs this winter, and perhaps this is spot for son of Frosted to shine. He picks up Irad Ortiz Jr., but must tangle with seven others led by Mr Skylight for Riley Mott, Cats By Five for Steve Asmussen and Catahoula Moon for Jerry Robb.

  • John: Mr Skylight, Frost Free, Petingas Twins.
  • Rob: Frost Free, Catahoula Moon, Cats By Five.
  • Tom: Mr Skylight, Frost Free, Cats By Five.
  • Jessica: Mr Skylight, Catahoula Moon, Frost Free.
  • Alec: Frost Free, Mr. Skylight, Catahoula Moon.
  • Sean: Frost Free, Cats By Five, Mr Skylight.
  • Paul: Frost Free, Cats By Five, Classic Joke.
  • Charles: Frost Free, Petingas Twin, Mr Skylight.
  • Joe: Frost Free, Cats By Five, Mr Skylight.
Gallorette Stakes (G3). $100,000, fillies & mares, 3-year-olds & up, 1 1/16 miles, turf. 2:08 p.m.

Switch to the grass for traditional Preakness Day fixture. Field of nine includes a pair of main track only runners – keep an eye on that forecast and check for changes. Likely soft ground, which could favor Five Towns. Fluffy Socks, winner of the Selima Stakes way back in 2020 during her juvenile campaign, casts a long shadow over this group. And she handles some cut in the ground, too.

  • John: Fluffy Socks, Cats Inthe Timber, Sweet Dani Girl.
  • Rob: Fluffy Socks, Five Towns, Dana’s Beauty.
  • Tom: Fluffy Socks, Five Towns, Blissful.
  • Jessica: Dana’s Beauty, Fluffy Socks, Blissful.
  • Alec: Blissful, Fluffy Socks, Sweet Dani Girl.
  • Sean: Blissful, Fluffy Socks, Five Towns.
  • Paul: Sweet Dani Girl, Fluffy Socks, Blissful.
  • Charles: Fluffy Socks, Blissful, Sweet Dani Girl.
  • Joe: Five Towns, Fluffy Socks, Blissful.
Maryland Sprint Stakes (G3). $100,000, 3-year-olds & up, 6 furlongs. 2:48 p.m.

Plugging right along and we’re back to sprinting. Prevalence, runner-up to Straight No Chaser in last year’s renewal, returns for Godolphin and trainer Brendan Walsh. He ran lights out in 6-furlong allowance-optional at Churchill, could have been a player in the Grade 1 Churchill Downs on Derby Day but lands here instead. Graded stakes winning son of Medaglia d’Oro will be tough against Coastal Mission and Prince Of Jericho, 1-2 in the Frank Y. Whiteley last time out. And don’t sleep on Jaxon Traveler, Maryland-bred son of Munnings sports 3-for-6 record at Pimlico with two seconds.

  • John: Prince Of Jericho, Prevalence, Jaxon Traveler.
  • Rob: Prince Of Jericho, Coastal Mission, Prevalence.
  • Tom: Prevalence, Jaxon Traveler, Prince Of Jericho.
  • Jessica: Prevalence, Prince Of Jericho, Jaxon Traveler.
  • Alec: Coastal Mission, Super Chow, Bourbon Bash.
  • Sean: Prince Of Jericho, Prevalence, Coastal Mission.
  • Paul: Prevalence, Bourbon Bash, Coastal Mission.
  • Charles: Coastal Mission, Prevalence, Prince Of Jericho.
  • Joe: Prevalence, Jaxon Traveler, Coastal Mission.
James W. Murphy Stakes. $100,000, 3-year-olds, 1 mile, turf. 3:30 p.m.

Deep breath. There’s still a solid 3 1/2 hours until the Preakness. A dozen entered, including the main track only Copper Tax. He’ll loom large if it comes off. If not, perhaps Twirling Point, Naptown, Crystal Quest, Fulmineo, Abrumar or Echo Lane. Don’t settle for a short price in this wide-open event.

  • John: Copper Tax, Abrumar, Echo Lane.
  • Rob: Fulmineo, Nap Town, Crystal Quest.
  • Tom: Copper Tax, Twirling Point, Crystal Quest.
  • Jessica: Naptown, Crystal Quest, Twirling Point.
  • Alec: Tocayo, Fulmineo, Abrumar.
  • Sean: Crystal Quest, Twirling Point, Naptown.
  • Paul: Abrumar, Fulmineo, Twirling Point.
  • Charles: Echo Lane, Crystal Quest, Copper Tax.
  • Joe: Naptown, Fulmineo, Echo Lane.
Sir Barton Stakes sponsored by Brandon & Diannah Perry to benefit Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance. $100,000, 3-year-olds, 1 1/16 miles. 4:10 p.m.

Tuscan Sky, seventh at 5-2 in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial, and the $925,000 Curlin colt Corporate Power look like standouts here. Tuscan Sky won back-to-back starts sprinting and around two turns before the Wood, while Corporate Power exits runner-up finish to Unique Insight in 9-furlong allowance-optional in the slop at Aqueduct last time out. Imperial Gun will try to spoil it from the outside, off close second in the Bath House Row at Oaklawn Park.

  • John: Corporate Power, Gould’s Gold, Tuscan Sky.
  • Rob: Corporate Power, Imperial Gun, Mighty Message.
  • Tom: Corporate Power, Mighty Message, Tuscan Sky.
  • Jessica: Corporate Power, Tuscan Sky, Imperial Gun.
  • Alec: Tuscan Sky, Corporate Power, Mighty Message.
  • Sean: Imperial Gin, Tuscan Sky, Corporate Power.
  • Paul: Corporate Power, Imperial Gun, Tuscan Sky.
  • Charles: Corporate Power, Imperial Gun, Gould’s Gold.
  • Joe: Tuscan Sky, Imperial Gun, Corporate Power.
Jim McKay Turf Sprint. $100,000, 3-year-olds & up, 5 furlongs, turf. 4:53 p.m.

Beer Can Man, well beaten in the Grade 2 Shakertown at Keeneland, returns to defend his title. Son of Can The Man won last year at 7-2 and again drew in the extreme outside post. Witty, Caravel’s younger half-brother, drew just to his inside and looks for his ninth win in 22 starts. Son of Great Notion is also a winner in Baltimore, in last year’s Ben’s Cat Stakes. We can’t help but think of the late, great Ben’s Cat when this race rolls around. What a legend.

  • John: Beer Can Man, Boat’s A Rockin, Witty.
  • Rob: Witty, Charging, Beer Can Man.
  • Tom: Beer Can Man, Smooth B, Witty.
  • Jessica: Witty, That’s Right, Boats A Rockin.
  • Alec: Witty, Beer Can Man, Where’s Ray.
  • Sean: Witty, Charging, Grooms All Bizness.
  • Paul: Beer Can Man, Witty, That’s Right.
  • Charles: Charging, Beer Can Man, Witty.
  • Joe: Witty, Beer Can Man, Smooth B.
Dinner Party Stakes (G3). $500,000, 3-year-olds & up, 1 1/8 miles, turf. 5:52 p.m.

Great to see the former Dixie Stakes receive a nice purse hike – from $200,000 last year. Entry box reflected the boost with a dozen in traditional Preakness lead-in heat. (most years). Emmanuel will appreciate class relief after finishing fifth in Grade 1 Maker’s Mark Mile last time out at Keeneland, while Chad Brown doubles up with Running Bee and Adhamo and Graham Motion doubles with Highland Chief and English Bee. Potential price plays in Atone and Funtastic Again, who don’t figure to go off at their morning-line odds.

  • John: Running Bee, Beatbox, Emmanuel.
  • Rob: Beatbox, Running Bee, English Bee.
  • Tom: Atone, Emmanuel, Highland Chief.
  • Jessica: Highland Chief, English Bee, Emmanuel.
  • Alec: Beatbox, Running Bee, Emmanuel.
  • Sean: Beatbox, Emmanuel, Balnikhov.
  • Paul: Highland Chief, Running Bee, Beatbox.
  • Charles: Atone, Emmanuel, Balnikhov.
  • Joe: Balnikhov, Highland Chief, Beatbox.
Preakness Stakes (G1). $2 million, 3-year-olds, 1 3/16 miles. 7:01 p.m.

Complexion and pace scenario of American racing’s second classic saw a shakeup this week when Muth, the Arkansas Derby winner and 8-5 morning-line favorite, came down with a fever Wednesday that forced a scratch. Mystik Dan, who might have vied for favoritism anyway off his Kentucky Derby victory, will now go to post as the favorite for just the third time in eight starts. Trained by Preakness-winning trainer Kenny McPeek, Mystik Dan enjoyed a brilliant trip under Brian Hernandez Jr. in the Kentucky Derby and a duplication of that run or anything close probably gets it done here. The big question, as always these days, is the two-week stretch between starts. Catching Freedom and Just Steel, fourth and 17th in the Derby, respectively, need to answer the same question along with Seize The Grey, winner of the Pat Day Mile on the Derby undercard. That leaves new shooters Tuscan Gold, third in the Louisiana Derby behind Catching Freedom; and Imagination, runner-up in the Santa Anita Derby and winner of the Grade 2 San Felipe two starts back, as the major threats to spoil the Triple Crown bid of Mystik Dan.

  • John: Catching Freedom, Tuscan Gold, Mystik Dan.
  • Rob: Mystik Dan, Imagination, Tuscan Gold.
  • Tom: Mystik Dan, Tuscan Gold, Catching Freedom.
  • Jessica: Seize The Grey, Catching Freedom, Uncle Heavy.
  • Alec: Tuscan Gold, Imagination, Catching Freedom.
  • Sean: Tuscan Gold, Imagination, Mystik Dan.
  • Paul: Tuscan Gold, Imagination, Mystik Dan.
  • Charles: Catching Freedom, Imagination, Mystik Dan.
  • Joe: Mystik Dan, Catching Freedom, Mugatu.