How to Bet the 2019 Pimlico Special

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

May 15th, 2019

In my opinion handicappers looking to play Friday’s $300,000 Pimlico Special (G3) at Pimlico have two options for determining which horse to bet.

The quickest solution—one that probably stands as good a chance as any at picking the winner—is to pull a name from a hat. Or throw a dart. Or ask your dog. Or whatever other means you use for making random decisions. You have to try something, because the Pimlico Special is one of the most anticipated races during Preakness Stakes (G1) week at Pimlico, and we have to come up with a pick of some sort, right?

The second option, and my preferred choice, is to take a chance with the promising 12-1 shot #6 Cordmaker, whose improving form and strong record around two turns suggests he might relish the 1 1/4-mile distance of the Pimlico Special.

As a son of Curlin out of the Polish Numbers mare Tanca—the dam of three other runners who have won going a mile or farther—Cordmaker is bred to enjoy long distances, and his race record reflects this. In sprints up to seven furlongs, Cordmaker has been unremarkable for much of his career, but going a mile or farther Cordmaker is a neck away from being unbeaten in four starts.  Two races back he unleashed a strong finish to defeat a quality field in the 1 1/8-mile Harrison E. Johnson Memorial Stakes at Laurel Park, where he overcame modest early fractions to prevail by 1 1/2 lengths.
Even Cordmaker’s sprinting abilities have improved with maturity. He’s just a 4-year-old and still improving, which was made evident by his 4 1/4-length romp in a seven-furlong optional-claiming allowance race at Laurel last month. In a notable improvement off his previous sprinting form, Cordmaker swallowed the field with complete authority and clocked the distance in 1:21.86, good enough for a career-best 97 Beyer speed figure.

Considering his improving form, competitive speed figures and affinity for racing around two turns, Cordmaker strikes me as an enticing play in the Pimlico Special. He breezed five furlongs in a bullet :59 1/5 May 9, suggesting he’s maintaining his great form, and trainer Rodney Jenkins wins at a 36% rate with horses stretching out from sprints to routes. Cordmaker’s recent allowance win at Laurel should serve as a perfect prep for the Pimlico Special, so I’m expecting Cordmaker to take another step forward and fire off a career-best effort.

At 12-1 I’ll be eager to play Cordmaker in the win pool, but I’ll also play him in a double bet with #6 Always Shopping and #8 Point of Honor, my top two choices in the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (G2), which immediately follows the Pimlico Special. Another option? Bet Cordmaker to win, and if he prevails, parlay 50% of your winnings on to your top choice (or two) in the Preakness on Saturday.

$20 to win on #6 Cordmaker $2 exacta: 6 with 1,13 ($4) $3 exacta: 1,13 with 6 ($6)

Good luck!