J.N. Campbell analyzes this challenging Grade II contest ... see how jockey Javier Castellano could provide the key to victory at a price.
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 …
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Race 11: Dirt, 6F, Maryland Sprint Match Series S. (G3), $150k, 3+
The turning and burning continues on this Preakness Saturday, as older dirt sprinters try to score in this Grade III event. The devolution of this distance continues in North America, as it seems to be a division that has less and less talent each year. Sure, there are some standouts, but it is not like the old days. Still, options exist in a race like this one that at least has a field of 11 who will be going 6F—quantity over quality.
My first inclination is to point out the presence of Ron Moquett in this race. Before sending this one to Baltimore, the Oaklawn-based conditioner had a mixed experience with this one back in Hot Springs over the course of 3 races. Some efforts were quite good, like his 2nd place finish to Boldor in the King Cotton 150k; while others were puzzling, like in an OC100k follow-up event in March where he finished off the board. His inconsistency is evident, and I say that, despite a win last out. That was a lesser class race (OC40k), so do not think that constitutes progress. More to do here … but he will not go it alone, since Luis Saez is in the irons. Thumbs up to that, eh?
Others to consider include invaders like Mike Maker’s Special Reserve #8 with Irad Ortiz riding, and Steve Asmussen’s Strike Power #5 with Ricardo Santana aboard. Both have major upside as they are both coming out of Grade III races. Speaking of class, they have dirt sprinting in their bloodlines too. Both will end up being short prices in the end, so taking either of them would not be a poor decision considering the connections.
One more to add to the group is a much better price at 15/1. Kathy Ritvo was fabulous earlier in her training career as she competed at the highest levels, but she has cooled off in the past few years. Keeping a small stable speaks to the quality that she commands. I like Frosted Grace #4 not only because of this horse’s conditioner, but because she was awfully good against this type of company at Gulfstream Park. The GP Sprint (G3) ended up being a 2nd place finish for this son of Mark Valeski, who was bred by the former Governor of Kentucky, Brereton Jones. This one has a ton of upside, and can flash some upfront speed. Javier Castellano is a quality pickup for these connections, and he could easily hit the board as I see it.
Top Selection: Frosted Grace #4
Creative Wager: $1 Trifecta Wheel, 4/5 w 4/5/8/11 w 4/5/8/11 and/or 4/5/8/11 w 4/5 w 4/5/8/11
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