Jim McKay Turf Sprint Stakes 2021 Picks: Boldor and the wide world of turf racing

Trainer Steve Asmussen sends Boldor to the turf at Pimlico in the Jim McKay. See why J.N. Campbell likes this sprinter so much ...
Trainer Steve Asmussen sends Boldor to the turf at Pimlico in the Jim McKay. See why J.N. Campbell likes this sprinter so much ...

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Preakness Weekend is finally upon us, and the run-up had its share of drama. Bob Baffert and his Kentucky Derby Champion, Medina Spirit, became the focal point. His hubris, mismanagement, and outright audacity taxed the sport in a way that has yet to be realized or understood. Now, as the scene shifts to the home of the Maryland Jockey Club at Pimlico, its oldest signature race takes center stage.

A Super Saturday arrives after what amounted to a rousing edition of Black-Eyed Susan Day. For the Preakness card, a full listing of contests appears on tap, and we at HorseRacing.net/us, have you covered with a bevy of selections, and our focused analysis. Both our turf-man and our in-house handicapper are on hand to offer their “expert” opinions. Stay tuned …

The team at HorseRacing.net put together slates of selections for most thoroughbred tracks racing in the US every single day. The Picks page (linked to below) is updated at 5AM ET every day with all the selections for the upcoming slate...

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Race 10: Turf, 5F, Jim McKay Turf Sprint S., $100k, 3+

ABC mainstay, announcer Jim McKay was a true gentleman in an age before cable sports became a tidal wave. He was the anthesis of Howard, who was a bully and a rake when it came to his manner on camera. McKay was none of the sort. His professionalism made the Wide World of Sports a must-see. This race reflects that same sentiment, and is one that is a can’t-miss as well.

If you are wondering who will be the shortest price come post time, then my best guess would be between 3—The Critical Way #4, Hollis #5, or Completed Pass #13. All of these have different kinds of turf sprinting ability. Jose Delgado is known as a claiming trainer down at Tampa, and in the Mid-Atlantic, but occasionally he will enter these “Non-G” events. His #4 has deep grass burning experience, and jockey Luis Saez helped this one hit the board in the Shakertown (G2) @KEE last time. That was against a pair of heavy faves, so it is not out of the realm to back this son of Tizway in here.

As for the #5, trainer John Ortiz must have been pleased with the result at Oaklawn Park last time. His 6-yr-old gelding was able to wrangle a dirt win against some tough OC80k Co. Now, he switches back to the grass. The last time he was on the lawn was the Shakertown (G2) and that was a poor finish—12th. You might wonder how he could be in contention at the top of the tote? Well, it has to do with his jockey who now takes the reigns for the first time, Irad Ortiz. He can drive a price down on a runner faster than Elon Musk can on Doge Coin. This one is accomplished, but another turf try will not automatically equate to a win.

The last entry who will vie for tote supremacy is #13 out of the barn of local man, Claudio Gonzalez. This one has Pimlico experience when he won in fine fashion, just off-the-pace, in the King Leatherbury 100k a few weeks ago. That effort was more than game, and Angel Cruz is once again back aboard. This 7-yr-old gelding has BT experience in spades. Don’t ever sleep on this trainer because he is at his best in his own bailiwick.

Despite these favored fiends, I actually like another that absolutely blew me away in a place you might not expect. When I saw Steve Asmussen’s Boldor #1 run at Delta Downs back in the Sams Town 60k back in early January, it was such an impressive late kick this son of Munnings exhibited. Asmussen then flipped the script, and sent this Orr-owned speedster to the lion’s den at Oaklawn for the King Cottom 150k and then the Hot Springs 200k. He won the first at 10/1, and came in 5th in the second. That last placing was not terrible considering the race had CZ Rocket, Whitmore, and Flagstaff in it. Those are top of the division types, mind you … If all that wasn’t enough for you, then Asmussen did it again, and really pulled a rabbit out of a hat by sending his 5-yr-old to the Haggin Course at Keeneland for a salty ALLW Co. race. There, he came in 2nd to a strong Ward entry named Maven, who is top class. I like the McKay move, and I am hoping that Santana can use some of that aggressive riding of his to get this one safely off the rail, running in the end for the win.

P.S. While the Asmussen pick is solid for me, I wouldn’t rule out Mark Hoffman’s The Connector #2 with Jose Ortiz aboard. The conditioner just got this one from Dennis Ward, and he promptly sent him to Keeneland for one of those ALLW Co. turf sprints that I was just speaking of. Now, ratcheting up the ladder, do not be surprised if Ortiz takes this one all the way to the bank. City Zips are mighty good at any distance on the turf.

Whew this is going to be a barnburner!

Top Selection: Boldor #1

Creative Wager: $1 Superfecta Box, 1/2/4/5/13

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