Happy Preakness Day! 

For the first time since the current Triple Crown schedule began in 1969 we have only one Derby runner entered back in the Preakness Stakes.  As a result “new shooter” is the term of the week. One potential new shooter, Forte, is not entered today after being placed on a fourteen day Vet Scratch list on Derby day and is not yet cleared to run. Sadly, we also lost First Mission from the field to injury. 

The Grade III Dinner Party has a competitive field of seven headlined by Pegasus Turf winner Atone.  

Race 8 The Dinner Party – Grade III 

One Mile and One Furlong on the Turf for Three Year Olds and Upward 

  1. Atone: Won the Pegasus Turf (103 Beyer) but came back a with a clunker in the Muniz Memorial at Fairgrounds. He was inside at the Fairgrounds and the turf was obviously chewed up – clearly he didn’t care for it. Likes to be up front and should set the pace today.  The Pick.
  2. Speaking Scout: Motion trained gelding was a good third in the Pegasus Turf behind Atone (98 Beyer) but failed to fire in the Makers Mark Mile last out (83 Beyer). The speed fig in the Pegasus is an outlier in his thirteen grass starts.  Possible use in exotics.
  3. Easter: French bred gelding won last out at Aqueduct against N1X company (93 Beyer) for Motion after coming off a nine month layoff. Last graded stakes effort was a year ago in the Man o’ War where he finished a good fourth behind some rather good ones.  Will be coming late.  Minor award.
  4. Hurricane Dream: The third Graham Motion entry has started twice in North America. The first effort was a fairly close tenth place finish in the Pegasus Turf (96 Beyer) as he was stuck behind a wall of horses. Came back in Allowance company to win by open lengths.  Is tactical and can close in a hurry. Gets a slice. 
  5. Rising Empire: Two back he made the jump to stakes company in the Muniz at Fairgrounds where he set the pace and held on for second (99 Beyer). Stretched out in his most recent effort in the Elkhorn at Keeneland but didn’t threaten. He probably won’t be on the pace today given Atone and the two drawn to his outside. That might be a problem. Looking elsewhere.   
  6. Never Explain: Winner of two in a row and last out won an optional claimer at Tampa with a nice inside trip (94 Beyer).  That was a career best fig and he will need to step forward again today to content. Doesn’t seem likely in his fifteenth career start. Not today.
  7. Emmanuel: Pletcher attracts Irad to take the mount today for this talented runner who has won five of nine starts. Earned a career best Beyer two back in the Canadian Turf at Gulfstream (96 Beyer) that followed a nice win in the Tamps Bay Stakes (98 Beyer). However, last out in the Makers Mark Mile he was off the pace the whole way. Tactical runner and Irad will need to use that to find a spot.   Major player.

Picks 1-7-4-3 

Race 13 – The Preakness – Grade I 

One Mile and Three Sixteenths on the Dirt for Three Year Olds 

While listening to a general sports podcast this past week a commentator said that Javier Castellano has had a “very good”  career.  I sat up straight at this slightly back handed compliment.   

For the record, Castellano is not “very good” – he is an all-time great.  Castellano is in the Hall of Fame and has won four Eclipse Awards (only two jockeys have won more). He is second all-time in purses, has won twelve Breeders Cup races, the Preakness twice and now of course the Derby. Oh, and he has won a record six Travers Stakes. He is a fantastic jockey who is still excellent in the saddle. 

  1. National Treasure: Was an OK fourth in the Santa Anita Derby (95 Beyer) after a third in the Sham Stakes. Only has a maiden win to his credit. He has been half a cut below the best he has faced. Should be sent from the inside by Johnny V.  Blinkers go ON. Has been working well in the blinkers. Baffert trainee on the rail, blinkers on, not a lot of speed in the race …we have seen story this before. Main threat to Mage. 
  2. Chase the Chaos: Comes back to graded stakes company after failing to fire in the black type California Derby stakes at Golden Gate.  Has not repeated the performance in the El Camino Real Derby back in February (83 Beyer) and has not won on the dirt. Toss.
  3. Mage: Very impressive in winning the Derby with a 105 Beyer. Castellano had him well off the pace and then got to the outside on the far turn and unleashed a run in the final quarter of a mile. Prior to that he placed behind Forte in the Florida Derby (94 Beyer). Probably will want to be closer to the pace today as off the pace types usually don’t fare well on the Pimlico surface. Trainer Stat: Gustavo Delgado wins at a 23% clip from forty-six starters who have come back in two weeks or less.  The Pick. 
  4. Coffewithchris: Most recently he finished fifth in the Federico Tesio (82 Beyer) after leading most of the way but fading in the stretch. Makes his first attempt in graded stakes company today after running in black type affairs at Laurel Park. Does he want all this distance? Lasix comes OFF. Early pace. 
  5. Red Route One: Placed in the Rebel and the Southwest Stakes, both over sloppy surfaces, before failing to fire in the Arkansas Derby. Stayed in Hot Springs after that poor showing and came back to win the listed Bath House Rows stakes (92 Beyer) where he got a nice off the pace ride by Joel Rosario who stays aboard today. Lasix was on for the most recent race – it comes off today. Should be running in the lane. Underneath in Exotics.
  6. Perform: Local hero won the Federico Tesio Stakes at Laurel with a rousing stretch drive as he was blocked multiple times and had to weave through traffic (84 Beyer).  Has won his last two starts going two turns after not showing much while sprinting. Supplemented into this field for $150,000. Lasix comes OFF. Could fill out a super.
  7. Blazing Sevens: Ran well last out in the Blue Grass where he followed Tapit Trice’s move but flattened out in the stretch (90 Beyer). Earned enough points to get into the Derby but Chad Brown chose to wait and aim for Old Hilltop. He hasn’t won since the Champagne Stakes last October over an off track going the one turn mile. Blue Grass appears to have been a weak race given other results. Fade.
  8. First Mission: SCRATCH – Unfortunately, the Lexington Stakes winner has a hind leg injury and his connections announced on Friday that he will not run.

Picks 3-1-6-5