Mucciolo’s Pimlico Saturday Plays

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May 18th, 2017

The $1.5 million Preakness (G1) heads a 14-race program at Pimlico and I will be playing the following horses on the undercard.

Race 5, The Very One S.: This five-furlong turf sprint attracts a sizable field of female turf distaffers and I like the chances of #6 ANIMAL APPEAL to gain the early edge and never look back. Trained Jeremiah Englehart, who wins at a 23% clip off an extended layoff, the bay daughter of Leroidesanimaux started getting good in the middle half of 2016 after modest beginnings in the maiden claiming ranks and posted an eye-catching allowance win at Saratoga before finishing third in her first stakes attempt at 4-5 odds. Today’s field is not loaded with early types and five-year-old looks like the inside speed. Animal Appeal has been working steadily since early April and I think it’s a big positive that regular pilot Jose Ortiz retains the mount. And the distance seems ideal for the fleet mare.

Race 8, James W. Murphy S.: #4 DOVER CLIFFS is sure to attract wagering attention in this turf stakes event but may not be too short in this big field. Christophe Clement trainee has been very sharp from a trio of races to date, recording two straight wins in advance of this run, and colt has a fine combination of tactical speed and a closing burst which is important when facing 11 foes in his first Pimlico start. Son of English Channel comes in off a short absence posting four works in the interim and Jose Ortiz gets off of another contender to stay in the silks atop the fine prospect.

Race 11, Sir Barton S.: While it looks tough to knock off sure favorite Hedge Fund in this sophomore stakes, #7 TIME TO TRAVEL is a most intriguing runner who I give a big chance to challenge for the top prize. By Hard Spun, gray colt was a sharp maiden winner two back at Gulfstream and ran a solid race in the Lexington (G3) before tiring late in his stakes and two-turn debut in his bow for Michael Matz. Time to Travel gets a few changes in this spot with the addition of Lasix and rider upgrade to John Velazquez, and the Kentucky-bred gets a nice draw with the other pace in the field drawn to his inside.

Race 14, Starter Allowance: The get-out race (or, I hope, the pad-the-bankroll finale) is a fairly deep one for the level with 10 going postward and a few entrants have a realistic chance of winning. #10 HAYWIRED is my pick from the outside running first off the claim for Aldana Gonzalez. Chestnut son of Cindago has run four times in 2017 with two wins and a pair of runner-up finishes to his credit, and he has a nose for the wire with 13 lifetime victories to his credit. In-form Cal-bred could turn out to be a shrewd claim in being plucked for $25,000 last time and credit the connections for finding this spot, which could be viewed as a class drop while staying protected. Seven-year-old is perfect from a pair of runs on the Pimlico dirt and Scott Spieth will have a lot of options early on atop the versatile top pick.

Check out the Preakness Stakes News & Notes page and 2017 Preakness Stakes Betting Guide