Rain or shine, Preakness Day and night cards will offer plenty of excitement

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Ted Black

May 21st, 2016

Weather conditions are not expected to be anywhere near ideal on Saturday afternoon at Pimlico for the 141st running of the Preakness Stakes, but thoroughbred and standardbred racing fans should enjoy the entire day from morning to nearly midnight.

In fact, some of the weekend excitement began on Friday at Pimlico. Ben's Cat, now a 10-year-old runner trained by Hall of Fame conditioner King T. Leatherbury, rallied boldly late and split horses to capture the $100,000 Jim McKay Stakes on the grass for a fourth straight year.

Ben's Cat has now won both of his starts this year and sports 31 wins in 59 career outings. Ben's Cat was the Maryland-bred horse of the year four straight years before yielding the title last year to The Big Beast and he appears to have little chance of overtaking Grade I winner Cathryn Sophia for the title this year, but the aged warrior still has plenty of youthful vigor in his 10-year-old legs.

Speaking of older horses, many of the best older Standardbreds in the land will be competing at Northfield Park near Cleveland, Ohio, Yonkers Raceway in New York and The Meadowlands in New Jersey.

Northfield will host the latest edition of the $200,000 Battle Of Lake Erie and the race will feature Wiggle It Jiggleit, the reigning harness horse of the year, has the rail and will have a rematch with Freaky Feet Pete. The two had several clashes last summer at Hoosier Park, but this will be Pete's first attempt on a half-mile oval and he will start from post five.

Just to his inside is Foiled Again, the defending champion of the 'Battle' who will seek his first win in eight starts this year. Foiled Again is the richest horse in harness racing history with over $7.4 million banked thanks to 86 wins from 253 lifetime outings.

Another solid group of older horses, trotters and pacers, will compete in consecutive races at Yonkers Raceway tomorrow night.

Midway through the card, Bee A Magician will make her seasonal local debut in the $40,000 Open Handicap for trotters and the durable mare has been assigned the outside seven hole. Bee A Magician has won both of her starts this year - the latter via disqualification - and sports 43 wins and $3.8 million banked from 67 lifetime starts that included a perfect horse of the year campaign in 2013.

One race later in the $40,000 Open Handicap for older pacers, Bit Of A Legend N will return to the scene of his biggest win this year after a nondescript performance in the Van Rose Invitational at Pocono Downs. Bit Of A Legend N won all five preliminary rounds of the George Morton Levy Series then took the $610,000 final and the 'wonder from down under' has won 8 of 10 starts over the New York half-mile oval.

Then across the Hudson River at the Meadowlands, the New Jersey miler will offer three divisions of the Graduate series for four-year-olds, two for trotters and one for pacers.

Wings Of Royalty, fresh off his upset win over Pinkman last week, will be the odds-on favorite in the first split. Then in the latter, Pinkman will seek redemption against Musical Rhythm and Maestro Blue Chip, both of which have won all nine starts this year. Crazy Wow makes his second start in the spot.

Then several races in the Graduate for pacers, Rockin Ron will seek his 11th straight score this year one week after outlasting Wiggle It Jiggleit to take the Confederation Cup at Flamboro Downs. In The Arsenal and Split The House both merit upset chances.

Saturdays results at Northfield, Yonkers and the Meadowlands will have a serious impact on the first USTA Top 10 poll that will be released on Tuesday afternoon.