Searching for value in the James W. Murphy Stakes

Profile Picture: John Mucciolo

May 18th, 2022

A field of 11 three-year-olds will travel one mile on the lawn in the $100,000 James W. Murphy S. at Pimlico on Saturday. The grassy tilt on the Preakness undercard is the start of the late all-stakes Pick 4 that concludes with the feature, so there will be a lot of attention paid to this listed event.

My best bet on the fantastic 14-race card is the morning-line choice in the race, the Brad Cox-trained #5 Ready to Purrform (5-2). By Kitten’s Joy, the three-year-old was a debut winner in the summer traveling 1 1/16 miles on the Ellis Park green, and he followed that up with a going-away victory in the Laurel Futurity when crossing the wire 3 1/4 lengths in front. The chestnut colt concluded his campaign with an even run at Del Mar during Breeders’ Cup weekend.

Ready to Purrform has been training steadily since March in preparation of his 2022 bow, and I expect the colt to be fit and ready to perform on Saturday. He isn’t facing a great field, and the Kentucky-bred will also receive a swift pace to rally into late to aid his chances. Florent Geroux will ride the talented youngster.

The value of the event will come in the vertical exotics, and I feel that there are a few live longshots to put underneath the favorite. #4 Wow Whata Summer (15-1) has appeal to me in his second run of the year for trainer Chuck Lawrence with John Velazquez taking the reins. The late-running son of Summer Front flashed good potential on the lawn at two, and I liked his prep when closing for third in a turf sprint at Laurel, a race obviously designed to get him ready for Saturday.

#9 Crabs N Beer (15-1) made a big late run to beat allowance foes going short in his initial turf race most recently for Jamie Ness. The gray son of Blofeld is bred for the trip and surface, and if he runs to his recent half-mile bullet move at Delaware last weekend, then he will be a player at a big number.

And #8 Shake Em Loose (8-1) has been in superb form since being claimed in November. The dark bay gelding showed little in his lone prior try on turf, but he is a different animal now, and the Private Terms S. winner is too talented to ignore despite the surface change. Jevian Toledo picks up the mount.

James Murphy Value Wagers

  • $10 exacta 5 with 4, 8, 9 ($30)
  • 50-cent trifecta key 5 with 4, 8, 9 with all ($13.50)
  • 50-cent  trifecta key 5 with all with 4, 8, 9 ($13.50)