We head into the 146th running of the Preakness Stakes (G1) with bated breath, the controversy surrounding Medina Spirt the dominating story heading into the second jewel of the Triple Crown.
So instead I thought we needed a break and let’s just talk about the undercard, eight supporting stakes on an outstanding betting card that gets underway at 10:30am ET.
My full card report for Preakness Day as well as my Belmont Park and Best Plays Reports are now available.
Race 1 The Sir Barton
Wait a second, Baffert has the 2-5 morning line favorite Hozier? Are we really starting off the day like this?
Race 3 The Chick Lang
The Steve Asmussen trained Jaxon Traveler is the 4-5 morning line favorite. The colt has won four of his five career starts, the lone loss by a head two back in the Gazebo at Oaklawn Park.
Asmussen will also saddle the 5-2 second choice Mighty Mischief, who was a smart looking winner against first level optional claimers at Oaklawn Park last out in his first start against winners.
“He’s a very fast horse,” Scott Blasi, top assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, said. “This is a big step up, but he works like a racehorse.”
Willy Boi (3-1) could pull off the mild upset. The Jeff Engler trainee ran second in the Florida bred Sophomore at Tampa Bay Downs going seven furlongs in his last outing.
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Race 6 The Gallorette (G3)
Six were entered but Tuned will scratch bringing this field down to five fillies and mares that will go 1 1/16 miles on the turf. The Graham Motion trained Mean Mary is the 4-5 morning line favorite.
The mare makes her first start since her seventh-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) last fall at Keeneland. In her two previous starts she won the New York (G2) and then missed in the Diana (G1) by just a neck.
“We gave her the winter off after the Breeders’ Cup. My original thought was to go to the New York Handicap [but] it’s a tough trip to go a mile and a quarter off a break,” Motion said. “I thought this might make more sense for her. She certainly has enough turn of foot to run a mile and a sixteenth.”
Race 8 The James W. Murphy
The 7-5 morning line favorite Outadore will scratch according to his trainer Wesley Ward which makes the race more of a wide open affair.
The Brad Cox trained T D Dance (7-2) may end up the betting favorite. The colt beat first level optional claimers at Fair Grounds on turf his last outing after a fifth in the Black and Gold in his stakes debut.
“Two races back, he didn’t perform quite as well as we were hoping,” Cox said. “He was able to rebound and come back and win the allowance race.”
Arzak (6-1) ran fourth behind Outadore in the Animal Kingdom in his last outing and Charles Chrome (8-1) was a good looking winners against Alw-2L company at Indiana Grand in his last start. He is trained by Reeve McGaughey, son of Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey.
Race 9 The Skipat
Eight fillies and mares will go six furlongs on the main track in the Skipat. The Philly invader Chub Wagon is the 8-5 morning line favorite.
Trained by Guadalupe Preciado, the filly won the Pennsylvania bred Unique Bella by 7 ½ lengths in her last start at Parx Racing.
Cox takes over the training of French Empire (3-1) who comes into the race having won her last four starts and 7 of 16 in her career. The Lacey Gaudet trained Dontletsweetfoolya (6-1) looks to rebound off her disappointing seventh place finish in the Barbara Fritchie (G3).
Race 10 The Jim McKay Turf Sprint
This race is always one of the toughest races to handicap on Preakness Day and this year is no different. A field of 13 will line up to sprint five furlongs on the turf.
Shakertown (G3) third place finisher The Critical Way is the 5-2 morning line favorite. The gelding is a four-time winner at the distance.
Completed Pass (7-2) won the 2019 edition of the race and last October nearly made it two in a row but was beaten a tough neck by Hollis (6-1) who is back to defend his title. The Claudio Gonzalez returned off a five-month layoff to win the King T. Leatherbury in his last start over the Pimlico turf at today’s distance.
“He came back and ran a really nice race the last time,” Gonzalez said. “He proved he still can compete with the top ones.”
Race 11 The Maryland Sprint Match Series G3
Eleven go six furlongs on the main track led by Strike Power (7-2) who was fourth in the Count Fleet beaten by three really good sprinters in C Z Rocket, Whitmore and Empire of Gold.
Other top contenders include Commonwealth (G2) runner up Special Reserve (9-2 and Laki, who won the Frank Whitley at Pimlico in his last outing on April 24 for trainer Damon Dilodovico.
Race 12 The Dinner Party G2
Formerly called the Dixie, this race drew a field of eight that will travel 1 1/16 miles on the turf and is the final stake before the big dance.
The Chad Brown trained Sacred Life is the 7-5 morning line favorite. The six-year-old made a mild late rally to finish third in the Makers Mark Mile (G1) at Keeneland in his last start.
Somelikeithotbrown will be saddled by trainer Mike Maker who swept the Pimlico Special (G3) and Black Eyed Susan (G2) on yesterday’s card. The five-year-old is looking to rebound off a disappointing seventh place finish in the Makers Mark Mile. He ran second in this race last year.
Trainer Graham Motion sends out Bye Bye Melvin, beaten a neck last out against Alw-3 optional claimers by Midnight Tea Time (10-1). It was his first start off a 5 ½ month layoff.
“He’s been very consistent. He was a little unlucky the other day coming off the layoff. He might have gotten a little tired,” Motion said. “He’s a very hard-trying, hard-knocking horse. He’s been thrown all sorts of different ground to run on. I think this will hopefully be a steppingstone to some longer races this summer.”
First post is 10:30am with post time of the Preakness Stakes set for 6:47 ET and will be televised on NBC.