The prelude to the Preakness is the Black-Eyed Susan, with a very nice fourteen race card for the Friday at Pimlico. The Black-Eyed Susan is the second leg of the National Triple Tiara, and although Oaks winner Carina Mia won’t be in the field, Oaks runner-up Land Over Sea will be coming into the race and is the morning line favorite. Fourth place finisher Go Maggie Go also comes into this race and looks to be improving. A few newcomers into this field Dothraki Queen, who was an AE in the Oaks, and Kinsley Kisses, third in the Beaumont for Todd Pletcher, both look to make a move in this 3yo filly division, which is a jumbled behind front runner Songbird.
Besides the Black-Eyed Susan, Pimlico plays host to six other stakes races, including three other graded stakes races. The Friday card also has two late Pick 4’s, one ending in the Black-Eyed Susan and one starting in that race as well, making the the big race a pivotal one from a betting standpoint.
Here are my selections for all of the stakes races on Friday:
- Race 3 – Skipat Stakes
- A field of 9 go to the gate, led by Bob Baffert trainee Fantastic Style, winner of the Los Flores Stakes and a second in the Great Lady M last time out, a race she won last summer. Californian turned New Yorker Sweetrayofsunshine has been tough to keep out of the money this year, finishing first or second in six races this year, and is coming into this race with good form. Sugar Maple winner Raging Smoke hopes to continue the success that PA breds have had at Pimlico this week. Disco Chick and Sweet On Smokey also look to have a chance here. However, Fantastic Style is much better than this field and should come away victorious.
- Selections: 1) Fantastic Style 2) Thirteen Arrows 3) Sweetrayofsunshine
- Race 7 – Pimlico Special Handicap
- With the scratch of Stanford, local favorite Page McKenney looks to be the new heavy favorite. Runner up in this race last year, Page McKenney has been in the top three in his last 24 races, including two runner up efforts in the Grade Two Charles Town Classic. This Mary Eppler trainee has been sharp and this race may be lining up for him. Also in this race is Noble Bird for Mark Casse, a well beaten 8th in the Alysheba last time out. He has looked to have trailed off a bit since his win in the Stephen Foster Handicap last June. Outside of those two, it is a very wide open affair, with Todd Pletcher’s Savoy Stomp maybe the next best.
- Selections: 1) Page McKenney 2) Savoy Stomp 3) Hesinfront
- Race 8 – Jim McKay Turf Sprint
- Ben’s Cat comes into this race looking two take it for the fifth time in six years. This ten year old gelding just keeps on running well for Hall of Famer King Leatherbury. He’s definitely the fan favorite and looks to take another win in his home state of Maryland. Rocket Heat won the Twin Spires Turf Sprint two weeks ago and looks to steal this one here. He has a lot of speed and will be tough for Vann Belvoir and Flavien Prat. However, he doesn’t always put two races together. Should be interesting how he runs.
- Selections: 1) Ben’s Cat 2) Rocket Heat 3) Big Guy Ian
- Race 9 – Allaire DuPont Distaff
- A wide open affair for the filly and mares, the field of 10 lines up for what will be a classic renewal of the race. Todd Pletcher took the race last year with Stopchargingmaria and comes back with Mei Ling, winner of the Heavenly Prize and second in the Top Flight Handicap last time out. Ahh Chocolate was a contender for last years Black-Eyed Susan, finishing third to Keen Pauline. Returns here after a third in the Doubledogdare at Keeneland last time out.
- Selections: 1) Ahh Chocolate 2) Tiger Ride 3) Mei Ling
- Race 10 – Hilltop Stakes
- The turf version of the Black-Eyed Susan, the Hilltop gets a full field of fourteen with two also eligibles. The morning line favorite is Spinamiss for Todd Pletcher, who comes in off of a fourth in the Appalachian. Graham Motion has a former Ireland runner Miss Katie Mae, fourth in an allowance last time out at Keeneland, looking to guide this well bred daughter of Dark Angel to the winners circle.
- Selections: 1) Spinamiss 2) Koala Queen 3) Gone Away
- Race 11 – Black-Eyed Susan
- The big race on the day, the Black-Eyed Susan gets a full field of fourteen, led by Oaks runner-up Land Over Sea and Oaks fourth place finisher Go Maggie Go. A newcomer, Midnight On Oconee was racing in the Fair Grounds preps heading for the Oaks, but skipped the race to come here. J. Larry Jones should have her ready for this race, and at a good price. Kinsley Kisses is another impressive newcomer, and looks to be the speed of the speed, and could runaway with this like Carina Mia did in the Oaks. Go Maggie Go is improving nicely while Land Over Sea looks to prove that she is even better than all of the seconds she has to Songbird.
- Selections: 1) Land Over See 2) Midnight On Oconee 3) Kinsley Kisses
- Race 12 – Miss Preakness
- The final stakes race of Friday is a good 6 furlong sprint on the dirt for the 3yo fillies. Lost Raven is an Uncle Mo for Todd Pletcher and has shown a lot of speed, winning in her last race, the Cicada Stakes back in February. She has been off for a while, but looks to step up here. Steven Asmussen hopes that One True Kiss steps up out of allowance ranks here, and looks to fit well and at a very nice price. Asmussen also has Bolton Landing winner Simple Surprise, who is still searching for a win this year, but is very talented and gets Florent Geroux for Winchell Thoroughbreds.
- Selections: 1) One True Kiss 2) Simple Surprise 3) Lost Raven
There are my selections for the Friday card from Pimlico. Check back later for the Saturday card selections.