Two value plays worth a look in Chick Lang and Sir Barton
With sloppy conditions adding an additional variable to Preakness Day, it could be worth having an insurance policy to back up two of the shortest-priced favorites on the undercard.
8TH Race, the Chick Lang: On a fast track, #5 Mitole appeared to have them all over the barrel as the 3-5 morning-line favorite. But note his only loss in his last four starts came in the slop. While it’s quite possible there was more to it, since he also bobbled at the start, that makes me a little less confident in him than I otherwise would have been.
#9 SOUTACHE is a very enticing 8-1 for the trainer/jockey tandem of Ralph Nicks and Irad Ortiz Jr., who are firing at a 33 percent clip (+3.73 ROI) when teaming up of late. Although untried on an off track himself, any grandson of Smarty Jones and Afleet Alex has a right to handle it. And his formline warrants a stab. The winner of two divisions of the Florida Sire Stakes last season, he edged the brilliant World of Trouble in the seven-furlong Affirmed to notch a 100 BRIS Speed rating. Soutache also beat Pony Up sprinting five furlongs on debut, so he’s not short of pace. The GoldMark Farm homebred likely needed his comeback run in the Hutcheson (G3), but still finished a useful runner-up, and stands to move forward second off the bench. Mitole figures to have company up front, and Soutache projects a good trip drafting just behind the speed.
12TH Race, the Sir Barton: I put #8 Ax Man on top in our Betting Guide, with #11 TITLE READY (5-1) as a second pick mainly because the 8-5 favorite may clear them early. But if Jose Ortiz can hustle Title Ready early to attend Ax Man, it could be a whole new ball game. As his Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen said during the Oaklawn meet, the Charles Fipke homebred needs to be engaged on the pace or else he just tunes out. That’s why he flopped as the 4-5 favorite in the Northern Spur last time – he was off a beat slow and basically said “never mind.”
When Title Ready is on or pressing the pace, he’s two-for-three with that loss being a fourth in the Rebel (G2). Like Soutache, Title Ready is a stab in conditions he has yet to face. But the More Than Ready colt, and grandson of Personal Ensign, is eligible to adapt. The break and opening strides will be key to his chances, so we’ll probably know by the clubhouse turn.
Pimlico picture credit: Photos by Z