Friday's value plays at Pimlico

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

May 14th, 2015

A virtual smorgasbord of opportunities await bettors this Preakness weekend at Pimlico, with 28 races scheduled between sunrise Friday and sunset Saturday. If the weather holds and there is no stampede by trainers to scratch, we could be looking at record handle for both days.

I’ll post some thoughts on some of the Saturday undercard stakes tomorrow (Friday), but here are few non-favorites I’ll be looking at in some of Friday’s stakes.

Hilltop (Race 5) – Miss Temple City just ran second to Breeders’ Cup winner Lady Eli in the Appalachian (G3) at Keeneland, and is clearly the one to beat here. The Chad Brown-trained Ayaady also looks solid after missing by a neck against allowance foes last time, also at Keeneland. The one to watch for at a price is C’Est Moi, who finished well to be a neck behind Ayaady in that allowance but had a troubled trip when wheeled back two weeks later at the same class level. She’s 12-1 on the morning line, and is more than capable of running better with a clean journey. Jonathan Sheppard has had a tough go of it during the Pimlico meet, and elsewhere this season for that matter, but I’ll never forget how he got the seemingly overmatched Utley to register an upset in last year’s Dixie (G2).

Jim McKay Turf Sprint (Race 9) – Ben’s Cat is the sentimental favorite here for racing’s newest Hall of Famer, King Leatherbury, but it’s worth noting the admirable nine-year-old has dropped his last three turf sprints. Clearly he was not fully cranked for his April 17 allowance prep over this course, but I’m still willing to take a shot against him at short odds. Amelia’s Wild Ride was an absolute no-show in the Shakertown (G3) at Keeneland over a course that might have been softer than he prefers. If you toss that race out, he easily fits on form having won the Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint and finishing a close second to Power Alert (subsequent hero of the Twin Spires Turf Sprint) in another Gulfstream stakes. Amelia’s Wild Ride has become more effective this season using stalk-and-pounce tactics, and would expect him to show just that from post 9.

Allaire duPont Distaff (Race 10) – Stopchargingmaria really towers over this field on class and should be better from a fitness standpoint after finishing second in the Madison (G1) at Keeneland in her season debut. If she doesn’t fire her best shot, then maybe a mare like Lunar Surge can pull off the mild upset. She wasn’t given an ideal ride in the Doubledogdare (G3) at Keeneland, attempting to go through a hole that wasn’t there a t the top of the short stretch when full of run, and then falling just short when bursting through a seam that opened too late. Her pilot this time is Jose Ortiz, who guided her from 16 lengths back to take the Maryland Racing Media at Laurel over this nine-furlong trip February 14. She’s definitely burned a lot of money over the years (14 seconds and thirds), but is mildly interesting at 5-1 or above.