Free Picks & Analysis — Who Do Ya Like?
Friday, May 20, 2016
Friday is Black-Eyed Susan Day at Pimlico and we are excited to have FREE PICKS & ANALYSIS for the entire card from John Piassek (@theyreoff)!
John has covered racing in Maryland on DanonymousRacing.com for a while now, which makes him uniquely qualified to handle this huge card at Pimlico on Friday. Most recently, John posted picks and analysis at Monmouth this past Sunday, in which he correctly selected the winners of five straight races! He’s been hot and we hope he continues rolling on Friday.
Take it away, John…
I would say that it’s the calm before the storm, but this year’s Black-Eyed Susan day card at Pimlico is anything but calm. There’s 14 races scheduled, with 172 entries, plus seven stakes races. The highlights are the Pimlico Special, which will be the seventh race, the Jim McKay Turf Sprint, featuring Ben’s Cat, which goes as the ninth race, and the eleventh race, the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes. The card begins at 11:30 AM EDT, and it starts like this:
Race 1: Allowance (n/w1x), 3yo and up, Fillies and Mares, 6 Furlongs
The action kicks off with an allowance field of eight fillies and mares sprinting. My pick will be the queen of Massachusetts-breds, the 4, Miss Wilby. She’s coming off a win in a restricted sprint stakes down in Florida, where she had to deal with a wide trip. At the start, she was immediately hung four-wide up the backstretch, rating off the pace. She grinded by the leaders and won by a neck, earning a strong brisnet figure of 91. She hasn’t raced since that race in February, but has been turning in an exceptionally strong worktab, with a series of three and four-furlong bullets. That’s perfect for a sprint race like this, and she looks ready to turn in a maximum effort.
The 8, Touch and Smile, broke her maiden by a neck at Turfway Park two races ago, running an 89. She lost by a length against similar at Keeneland last out, but the connections of trainer Wesley Ward and jockey John Velazquez must be respected. The 5, High Drive, won her only career race at Charles Town, and seeks to improve off her 82 debut figure. Expect her to be near the early pace.
4- Miss Wilby
8- Touch and Smile
5- High Drive
Race 2: Allowance (n/w1x), 3yo and up, Fillies and Mares, 5 Furlongs (Grass)
There’s so many horses in here, some of them will not be starting from the outer rail of the grass, but rather the inner rail of the dirt. As such, finding a horse with not only a lot of speed but a good post position is vital. The 4, Do What I Say, fits that bill. She’s only raced once on grass, but it was an impressive race. She broke her maiden in a grass sprint at Laurel by 2 ½ lengths, leading at one point in the stretch by seven lengths. Her figure in there was 86, the best last-out figure in the field. Compared to her, the three horses to her inside don’t have a lot of early speed, so expect her to get to the front and run the rest of them off their feet.
The 15, Lamontagne, tired after getting involved in a speed duel last out at this level at Belmont. That was her first race off a long layoff, however, and she’s run figures as high as 90 in the past. A big effort could be in line once again here; the only issue will be her extreme outside post. The 11, Bioterp, ran two figures in the mid-80s at the Laurel spring meet. She figures to stalk the early pace, and if she can avoid traffic, she’ll make a big run late.
4- Do What I Say
6- Moon Vision
4- Do What I Say
7- Anna May Our Queen
Race 3: Skipat Stakes, 3yo and up, Fillies and Mares, 6 Furlongs
The first of seven stakes races on today’s card is not exactly a handicapping puzzle. Bearing something completely unforeseen, the 8, Fantastic Style, is going to dominate this field. Her figures are head, shoulders, and then some above the rest of the field’s, having run a 99, a 101, and a 106 in her last three races out in California. Her two races in 2016 have been impressive: she won the Las Flores Stakes at Santa Anita for fun first off the layoff, then led late in the stretch before being caught against better in the Great Lady M Stakes at Los Alamitos. Now, I admit that she is the heavy chalk, and will go off at an unbettable price. Still, she’ll make for a good single in multi-race bets.
The 2, Disco Chick, was very impressive last time out in the My Juliet Stakes at Parx. She went gate-to-wire despite running a :21.3 opening quarter and a :44.2 half mile. She only ran a 90 in that race, but earned a 99 at Laurel two races ago. If anyone is going to pull off the upset, it will probably be her. The 1, Sweetrayofsunshine, has run above a 90 in four out of her five career races, and has the advantage of a lot of early speed and post position 1.
8- Fantastic Style
2- Disco Chick
Race 4: Allowance (n/w1x), 3yo and up, Fillies and Mares, 1 1/16 Miles (Grass)
There’s a noticeable lack of early speed in this race. The early pace figures for just about every one of the fourteen in the race are so preposterously slow, anyone who has even a flicker of early speed must merit consideration.
Because of this, I am drawn to the 13, Race and Shine. Coming off a long layoff last out, she wired a starter optional claiming field, winning by three lengths and earning a figure of 85. It is true that figure is inflated due to her easy trip; that an 85 is a career-high. Still, she showed some speed there, running pace figures in the mid-80s, something not many others in the field have done. While she does have a far outside post in here, she cleared from the outside last out (granted, it was post six out of seven). As long as she’s ridden aggressively and taken to the front, she may catch the field napping.
The 3, Queenofzeenile, has run at least an 80 in each of her last four races, and won from off the pace three races ago. She also has the Ness-McCarthy trainer-jockey combination at her side. The 14, Jet Majesty, also has some early speed, and has run strong grass figures of up to an 84 in the past. She hasn’t raced since October, but trainer Tony Dutrow is 22% with horses off the long layoff.
13- Race and Shine
14- Jet Majesty
14- Jet Majesty
6- Addy’s Eyes
1- Jump For Love
Race 5: Allowance Optional Claiming (n/w2x), 3yo and up, 1 1/16 Miles
Sometimes, a switch in surface really wakes up a horse. That is certainly the case with the 9, Tale of Life. While he had been running decently on grass last year, with one victory from seven starts, he really woke up when moved to the dirt early this year. He missed by ¾ of a length two races ago at Santa Anita, earning a strong figure of 101. Last out at Keeneland, he won by five easy lengths, earning a 98. Those two numbers are better than anything anyone in the field has earned in their last three dirt races. As long as he keeps up his form, he should win this one pretty easily. After this one, assuming he wins, I can see him running in some stakes races. Perhaps the Salvator Mile and the Monmouth Cup are on the radar?
The 6, Top of Mind, has been second and third in two races this year against similar here in Maryland. Both of those figures were in the low-90s, and he’s making his third start off the layoff. The 4, The Sandman, hit the board in three races in a row at Fair Grounds over the winter, and will seek to rebound off a disappointing effort last out at Keeneland, where he was ninth against similar.
9- Tale of Life
6- Top of Mind
4- The Sandman
Race 6: Allowance Optional Claiming (n/w2x), 3yo and up, Fillies and Mares, 5 Furlongs (Grass)
Another big field greets us, in the last race before the stakes bonanza really gets underway. I’ll go with the 4, Sunnysammi, in this spot. She’s improved sharply from age three to age four, running figures of 91 and 90 in her two races this year. She lost by 1 ¼ lengths at Keeneland last out, and missed by a neck two races ago at Gulfstream. Since that last race, she’s turned in some impressive works at Belmont, and retains Javier Castellano in the saddle. No one else has run as fast as she has this year, and that should propel her into the winner’s circle.
The 13, Charm City, drops down from the n/w3x level, and lost by only 2 ½ lengths in that spot last out. She’s run up to an 88 in the past, so if Sunnysammi regresses, Charm City can pick up the pieces. The 15, Satan’s Mistress, will be making her first start on the grass since running sixth in the Very One Stakes last Preakness weekend. She ran an impressive 90 there, and has been working strongly for this spot. The super-extreme outside post may be troublesome, however.
13- Charm City
15- Satan’s Mistress
13- Charm City
2- Settle ‘n Speight
8- Awake the Day
Race 7: Pimlico Special, 3yo and up, 1 3/16 Miles
Before I start my analysis here, I have to jump on my soapbox for a bit. As of this writing (Monday afternoon), Todd Pletcher was unsure as to if he was going to run the 2, Stanford, in this race, even though he entered the horse and, as far as we know, Stanford is in good physical condition. That kind of stuff drives me crazy. If you’re going to enter a horse in a race, you should run him, unless he gets hurt or sick. Waffling like this is insulting to the fans and the horseplayers.
Anyway, should Pletcher do the right thing and run his horse, it will be a rematch between Stanford, the Charles Town Classic winner, and the runner-up, the venerable Page McKenney. In that Charles Town Classic, Stanford took them gate-to-wire, waltzing around the Charles Town bullring unopposed on the lead. In this race, Stanford should get some pace opposition from Noble Bird, who showed speed two races ago when he almost wired the Ben Ali field, and outsider Warrioroftheroses. If Stanford is softened up on the lead, it could set it up for Page McKenney to roll by him and add another stakes win to his resume. That what I’d bet on to happen, and I will definitely be rooting for Page McKenney, because how can you not?
1- Page McKenney
4- Golden Glint
Race 8: Jim McKay Turf Sprint, 3yo and up, 5 Furlongs (Grass)
This race comes down to one thing: if the 7, Rocket Heat, can duplicate his victory in the Twin Spires Turf Sprint last out. Two weeks ago, he blew the doors off that field, setting a :21.3 opening quarter pace (the past performance notes describe it as a “cracking pace”) and not looking back to win by three lengths. That race earned a glittering figure of 98, the best last-out number in the race by ten points.
Rocket Heat has been doing most of his running out in California, where he goes to the early lead immediately and tries to go as far as he can. He turned in two gate-to-wire victories in recent times prior to his big Twin Spires win, earning a 95 and a 92 in those two victories. There is, of course, the possibility of a “bounce” off such a big win, but he doesn’t have to run that giant 98 to win this one. As long as he gets to the front and runs his usual race, he’s got a great shot of wiring them again.
The 2, Ben’s Cat, got up to win by a neck in his 2016 debut last out, defeating many of the horses in this field. The lovable veteran figures to come from off the pace, and will almost certainly take advantage of a pace meltdown, if it happens. Look for improvement off his 88 figure first off the layoff. The 5, Night Officer, ran two figures in the 90s in Florida this winter, before running a disappointing third behind Ben’s Cat last time out. He’ll seek to rebound off that dull effort, and prove that he’s not a Florida fluke.
7- Rocket Heat
2- Ben’s Cat
5- Night Officer
2- Ben’s Cat
7- Rocket Heat
6- Big Guy Ian
Race 9: Allaire DuPont Distaff, 3yo and up, Fillies and Mares, 1 1/8 Miles
It’s another race where there’s so many quality closers, anyone with early speed possesses a big advantage. The 4, Mei Ling, fits that bill. She led almost the way around last time out in the Top Flight Handicap, losing by half a length, while fifteen lengths clear of third place. Two races ago, she won the Heavenly Prize Stakes gate to wire. Her figures in those races were 102 and 98, a much better two-race streak than anyone else in the race has put together recently. There’s no speed whatsoever to her inside, so she’ll be able to cruise over to the rail, brush off the sprinters who may challenge for the lead, and jog home.
The 1, Theogony, is coming off two figures in the mid-90s, but both were up-the-track efforts in Oaklawn Park stakes races. Her late pace figures have been strong, so if she is kept closer to the pace, she will make an impact. The 10, Tiger Ride, was second in the Inside Information Stakes at Gulfstream in her most recent dirt start, and won the Valley View Stakes in the race before that.
4- Mei Ling
10- Tiger Ride
Race 10: Hilltop Stakes, 3yo, Fillies, 1 1/16 Miles (Grass)
Another race, another big field. Any time you see a European-bred grass filly, trained by Todd Pletcher, and ridden by John Velazquez, you know that the stage has been set for a good bet. The 4, Spinamiss, fits that bill. She was fourth against better last time out in the Appalachian Stakes at Keeneland, and before that was a close second in the Sweetest Chant Stakes at Gulfstream. She ran an impressive 98 in that Gulfstream race, and earned a good 85 at Keeneland. Taking a drop in class here to face less-accomplished runners, she should be able to shine once again.
The 8, Koala Queen, ran a decent 84 while winning a n/w1x allowance on grass as a two-year-old. She was fifth against n/w2x runners in her 2016 debut, but now has a race under her belt, and is getting Lasix for the first time. If she is able to improve off the layoff, she’s in line to run a big one, and possibly spring an upset. The 7, Thundering Sky, finished third in her grass debut last out, running a 91, the best last-out figure in the field. Expect her to be on or near the lead.
8- Koala Queen
7- Thundering Sky
7- Thundering Sky
10- La Piba
Race 11: Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, 3yo, Fillies, 1 1/8 Miles
We have finally reached the reason for this giant program: the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes. Fourteen fillies have packed the starting gate, including Kentucky Oaks runner-up Land Over Sea and fourth-place finisher Go Maggie Go. The two figure to be the two favorites, and because of that, I’m inclined to take a stand against them.
That stand will be made with the 10, Kinsley Kisses. She’s only made three starts, all of them sprinting, but I think she’s peaking at the right time, and looks ready to fire a big one. She’s never run lower than a 91 in her career, and that came when she won her three-year-old debut two races back at Tampa Bay Downs. She finished third in the Beaumont Stakes at Keeneland last out, but was hung very wide—five-wide in a five horse field!—and was a decent third, two lengths back, earning a figure of 93. Only the fillies who ran in the Kentucky Oaks ran better. Kinsley Kisses is coming in here off more rest, has been working sharply, and retains John Velazquez in the saddle. I think that she’ll pull off a mild upset in this one.
The 3, Land Over Sea, spent her winter running second to Songbird (who, despite what you might hear, remains the best three-year-old filly in the country), before breaking through in the Fair Grounds Oaks. She ran a 97 while finishing second in the Kentucky Oaks, but she will be overbet here. The 5, Go Maggie Go, had a rough trip while finishing fourth in the Kentucky Oaks, and will hope to repeat her Gulfstream Park Oaks effort, when she was clear and rated off the pace.
10- Kinsley Kisses
3- Land Over Sea
5- Go Maggie Go
Race 12: Allowance Optional Claiming (n/w2x), 3yo and up, 1 1/16 Miles (Grass)
I look near the inside for my selection, and landed on the 2, Phlash Phelps. He had won four races in a row going into the Henry Clark Stakes, his first race since last October. He finished a close third, earning a figure of 90. In this spot, he figures to be a little more rounded into form, with that race under his belt. He’s earned figures of up to 95 in the past, which would likely be good enough to win this race. As long as he continues to improve off the layoff, he should win.
The 12, Noble Road, raced for the first time in six months last time out, finishing second at the $25,000 claiming level. He earned a 92 figure in that race, a career-high. He’s got some of the best late pace figures in the race, and at a 20/1 morning line, he’s worth a look in a field like this. The 3, Mutasaawy, has run two rather mediocre races in a row, but both of those were over soft ground. He won over a firm grass course three races ago, so if he gets that here, he should improve.
2- Phlash Phelps
12- Noble Road
14- Barrel of Love
5- Set to Music
6- My Enigma
Race 13: Miss Preakness Stakes, 3yo, Fillies, 6 Furlongs
We’ve reached the final stakes race of the card: a mini-Black-Eyed Susan Stakes of sorts. My pick will be the California invader, the 6, Moment is Right. She’s run three ascending figures coming into this one, peaking at a 92 last time out. That was her first race of 2016, and it wound up being a solid second in the Surfside Stakes at Los Alamitos. Her early pace figures have been supersonic, so if she can get out to the front early, she’ll wire these laughing.
The 1, She’s All Ready, also finished second in her seasonal debut, after a strong two-year-old campaign that saw her running third in the Frizette. Her style is to try for the early lead, but she’ll have a hell of a time keeping up with Moment is Right if all goes to plan. Ideally, she’ll sit off the pace and hope Moment is Right tires out. The 4, Lost Raven, won the Cicada last out after cutting back in distance to six furlongs. She’s three-for-four sprinting lifetime, so she clearly has an aptitude for it. If she wins here, she can be a major player in filly-and-mare sprint stakes down the road.
6- Moment is Right
1- She’s All Ready
4- Lost Raven
Race 14: Starter Allowance $7,500, 3yo and up, 1 1/8 Miles (Grass)
My pick to close the show will be the 11, Cruise More. He won at the $15,000 level two races ago, in his first start on the Maryland circuit this season. He improved his figure up to a 91 when finishing third at the $25,000 level last time out, after being hung wide in the stretch. Now, this is a big enough field that he is susceptible to getting into trouble, given his deep closer running style. However, his figures are strong enough coming in here that, unless he gets totally buried, he has enough talent to put in a good showing.
The 2, Diana’s Vendetta, ran figures in the 90s last fall at Laurel, but he hasn’t been seen in competition since November. If he can quickly re-capture his good form from the past, he will be dangerous. The 10, Soup d’Coupe, won at the $11,000 level in his last race, back in December. He’s always good for a figure in the 80s, but will also have to run well first off the layoff to win here.
11- Cruise More
2- Diana’s Vendetta
10- Soup d’Coupe
7- Double Whammy
8- Greek God
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