How to bet the Steel Valley Sprint Stakes

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

November 23rd, 2019

Just how fast will the early pace be in Monday’s $250,000 Steel Valley Sprint Stakes at Mahoning Valley?

This six-furlong dash has attracted a dozen 3-year-olds vying for a rich prize late in the season, and no matter how you slice it, the race figures to unfold at a rapid tempo. #4 Dare Day and #11 Dugout are tried-and-true speedsters who always set the pace. #2 Call Paul, #3 Big Drink of Water, and #9 Get Hammered are usually prominent too, ensuring the early pace will be fast and furious.

At least Call Paul has shown the ability to settle off the lead, winning the February 2 Swale Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park with a rally from 5 ½ lengths off the pace. A five-time stakes winner, Call Paul looms as the most accomplished runner in the Steel Valley Sprint field, but breaking from post 2 might force his hand. To avoid getting boxed in behind runners, Call Paul may have to show speed and aggressively hold his position.

One runner with plenty of tactical options is #12 Preamble, a pace-stalking son of Speightstown who has drawn the far outside post position. Normally such a wide draw would be considered a detriment, but in this speed-packed race, it might afford Preamble the opportunity to drop in behind the leaders and work out a clean trip just off the speed.

Preamble showed potential as a juvenile, winning a pair of six-furlong sprints at Churchill Downs and Keeneland with pace-pressing trips. His triumph at Keeneland saw him earn a solid 96 Brisnet Speed rating while leaving future stakes winner Spectacular Gem 14 ¾ lengths back in third place.

Preamble returned a winner on April 6 at Keeneland, pulling away to score by 2 ¾ lengths in a seven-furlong allowance race, but he completely misfired in the May 17 Chick Lang Stakes (G3) at Pimlico, failing to show any early speed while retreating to finish last. It seems safe to assume Preamble had an excuse since he hasn’t run since and disappeared from the work tab until October.

On the bright side, Preamble has posted a nice series of workouts in preparation for his return, including five furlongs in a bullet 1:00 on November 18 at Keeneland. While the layoff is an obvious concern, I believe Preamble has the talent of a stakes-caliber sprinter, and I’m optimistic he’ll receive a perfect setup on Monday.

I suggest betting Preamble to win and keying him in the exacta with Call Paul and #1 Bourbon Calling, a three-time allowance winner with a strong stretch kick.

  • $12 to win on #12 Preamble
  • $3 exacta: 12 with 1,2 ($6)
  • $6 exacta: 1,2 with 12 ($12)

Total: $30

Good luck!