The Preakness is Saturday and I didn’t have to stay at a Holiday Inn Express. Plus, the outcome is so easy on paper even a caveman could hit the exacta and trifecta.
Well, maybe not.
I really was hoping Michael Matz, trainer of the ill-fated Barbaro, was going to send top colt Chelokee to the Preakness and get some redemption for the terrible tragedy at Pimlico of last year. Matz always wants the best for his horses and decided that Chelokee was just not up to the task.
Chelokee will instead run on the Preakness undercard in a race that used to be called the Sir Barton and now renamed the Barbaro Stakes by the Maryland Jockey Club. This may be one of the best bets of the day and a single in the picks. I’ll be all over it with both hands.
As for the Preakness, it has been narrowed to just eight entries. Street Sense heads the list with no overlay. You will most likely never see him at 9/2 the rest of your life. In fact, he most likely will be EVEN when they leave the gate. I love this horse, but must pass at this low price. There may be a play on some tri’s and super’s for short money just to have a watching interest.
The second choice is either Hard Spun or Curlin. Both ran well in the Kentucky Derby with Hard Spun carving out the fractions and Curlin coming on late despite early trouble. It would not surprise me to another 1-2-3 finish from these horses. Curlin and Street Sense have never been out of the money and should keep that streak going.
Hard Spun has five wins, one second and a fourth as his only blemish. The pace will be a little different than the Derby when Hard Spun tried to take them all the way. Here, I don’t believe Hard Spun will have the lead. I think he will lay off a hot pace carved by Maryland-based Xchanger, who will try to steal the front end and hope for the best.
Xchanger has raced on this Pimlico surface, winning a Stakes Race on April 21 when opening up an eight-length lead in the stretch and holding on by four in a very good time. If this guy gets loose, he could be a danger in the exotics. However, I don’t see Xchanger hanging around for the win. Hard Spun will take him on at some point.
Other speed in the race comes from the D Wayne Lukas-trained Flying First Class and Todd Pletcher’s Derby holdout King Of The Roxy.
The remaining Preakness field has Mint Slewlep (two wins at Laurel) and C.P. West (best 3yo in Nick Zito’s barn). C.P. West has one win to his credit when breaking his maiden last August at Saratoga. Street Sense trounced West by 22 lengths when they met in the BC Juvenile. Note: The first five finishers at the Derby had their final workout at Churchill Downs. I will be looking at the top three to see if any will work out on the Pimlico strip this week.
If not, then it becomes a guessing game.
Street Sense has had his best results at Churchill Downs, a track he loves. His losses have been at Keeneland (twice), Arlington Park and his first start at Churchill (placed second in a 6f sprint).
Hard Spun has won at four different tracks and continues to work up a storm. I would love him to get one last work at Pimlico. My game plan is to make a super using both Hard Spun and Street Sense on top. Then I’ll go with Hard Spun, Street Sense and Curlin second and third. We’ll go all for the fourth spot.
I will make another super using Hard Spun and Street Sense first and second, then using all in the third spot to all three in the fourth. There will be a house Q in this race, which may offer more value than the exacta. I will key Street Sense in Q’s with Curlin and Hard Spun. I will then key Hard Spun in Q’s with Curlin and Street Sense.
Also, I will make a five horse $1 tri box ($60) using my top three horses and tossing in long shots Xchanger and Mint Slewlep looking for lighting to strike. I will make one last tri just in case Pletcher has his juice working. I recommend a $2 four-horse tri box for $48, boxing my top three and tossing in King Of The Roxy.
Next week I’ll say what went wrong, how stupid could I be, that I did spend a night at the Holiday Inn Express and did meet some nice cavemen at the bar.