Kentucky Derby winner Orb is the headliner on Saturday at Pimlico for the $1 million Preakness Stakes, but there is plenty of other star power on an outstanding betting card that includes seven supporting stakes that will keep horseplayers busy all day.
The 13-race card gets underway at 10:45am eastern, and the field for the final race on the card will not be loaded in the race until nearly 8 ½ hours later.
By that time we will know whether Orb will head off to New York with a date with destiny, or whether horse racing will drop off the radar with mainstream media faster than a runner-up from The Bachelorette.
The Derby winner is even money on the morning line and closed on Friday at 4-5 in early wagering. With $178,780 in the win pool this is how the odds shake out:
1. Orb 4-5
2. Goldencents 7-1
3. Titletown Five 23-1
4. Departing 11-1
5. Mylute 7-1
6. Oxbow 14-1
7. Will Take Charge 12-1
8. Govenor Charlie 11-1
9. Itsmyluckyday 9-1
While it looks as if Orb is going to be tough to beat and the second jewel of the Triple Crown could end up chalky, there are a dozen other races on the card and more than a few excellent betting races.
Here is a quick preview of the stakes action before they lead them in the gate for the Preakness:
The $100,000 Rollicking
A field of eight juveniles do battle at six furlongs and as is usually the case trainer Wesley Ward is well-represented. The trainer sends out a pair of runners, Sweet Emma Rose (7-5) and No Nay Never (5-2). Rosario rode the latter to his maiden score, but lands on the former.
The $100,000 Chick Lang
Ward has a shot of winning the Chick Lang too, sending out Undrafted (3-1), who cuts back to a sprint after a non-threatening 13th place finish in the Blue Grass (G1) over polytrack at Keeneland. The gelding will be tough if he runs back to his third place finishes in the Hutcheson (G2) and Swale (G3). The Bob Baffert trained Zee Bros is the 2-1 morning line favorite. The colt weakened to finish sixth last out in the Derby Trial (G1) after popping a 102 Beyer Speed Figure in his debut.
$100,000 James W. Murphy
Notacatbutallama (9-5) is going to be the one to beat as the Todd Pletcher trainee has landed in the exacta in five of his six trips on turf. Ward again will be a factor with Redwood Kitten (5-1), who was third in the Transylvania (G3). Federico Tesio runner up Heat Press (6-1) makes his turf debut for the Graham Motion barn.
The $150,000 Allaire Dupont Distaff
Of all of today’s stakes this race drew the smallest field as seven fillies and mares will go 1 1/6 miles on the main track. The Chad Brown trained Summer Applause, coming off a fourth place finish in the Apple Blossom (G1) at Oaklawn Park is the 9-5 morning line favorite. Brushed by a Star (2-1) was the runner up in the Sixty Sails Handicap (G3) at Hawthorne in her last outing and has landed in the exacta in nine of her last 11 starts.
The $150,000 Gallorette
Three of these fillies and mares are coming out of the Jenny Wiley (G1) at Keeneland last out including the third place finisher Samitar who is the 5-2 morning line favorite for the Brown barn. Hard Not to Like (10-1) was not a threat in a ninth place finish in the Jenny Wiley but is a four-time winner on turf and Grade 1 placed on polytrack and has the look of a filly that should outrun her odds.
The $150,000 Maryland Sprint Handicap
A wide-open field of ten sprinters line up led by the New York shipper Sage Valley (5-2) for the Rudy Rodriguez barn. The colt comes back off a six month layoff after posting a big win in the Mr. Nasty at Aqueduct. Action Andy (6-1) won seven of his dozen starts last year, and the King T. Leatherbury barn sends out the streaking Manito, who comes into the race riding a four race winning streak.
The $300,000 Dixie
Optimizer is the 7-2 morning line favorite off his runner up finish to Wise Dan in the Turf Classic (G1) last out at Churchill Downs, but he will be a tepid favorite in a wide open race. Imagining (5-1) is Grade 1 placed and Doubles Partner (6-1) is a multiple graded stakes winner. Howe Great (12-1) looks like value if he goes off near his 12-1 morning line and Swift Warrior (4-1) comes into the race off back to back graded stakes wins.