Given the 60% possibility of rain on Friday, I’m leaning heavily to those picks with solid off-track experience.
In Race 1 ($30K maiden fillies, 6 furlongs), hot trainer Graham Motion enters first-time dirt runner Elizabeth Street, a previously European raced daughter of Street Cry out of an Affirmed mare. Mario Pino gets the ride aboard Tattletale Twist who should improve shortening up from her last race where she led before giving way to finish third at a mile. Inside Risk has the highest speed rating and worked well over this track, definitely a bonus.
In Race 2 (OC $25Kn2x, 1-1/16 mile), Sweetamygee is coasting in on an impressive four-race win streak and should go off as the favorite here (her fastest speed rating was on sloppy track). Westside Lady raced strongly last out here at Pimlico, but is stepping up in class. Honor Student closed quickly to win by a nose on sloppy Laurel track last time, and has solid record at Pimlico.
Race 3 is yet another maiden race, this time $30K for three-year-olds over 1-1/16 mile. Nick Zito-trained Helsinki is the morning line odds-on favorite, dropping in class, but also attempting distance for first time. Frankly, I’m more incline towards Love Tour who placed second last out to Pletcher’s Grand Causeway at this distance. Yankee Pride finished second at this distance vs. similar last time at Pimlico and should improve in second start since layoff. A longshot upset may occur either from Ticonderoga (who has been off since last October, but working out well at Bowie) or from lightly-raced Red Boomerang (who’s a half-brother to Maryland-PA multiple stakes winner Testafly, via the mare Far to Fly).
In Race 8 (Alw $32Kn1x fillies, 1-1/16 mile), the Holy Bull filly Divine Plan steps up from winning her maiden race at this distance (over an off track) to allowance company, and should do well. Love Scene (with Ramon Dominguez up) has improved in each of three races this year, breaking her maiden last time, but steps up to a route, behind a sharp 4 furlong work recently. Blondie’s Halos has been out of the money only once in 10 lifetime tries, and should be back in the groove in this, her second race after a layoff.
Race 9 is $95,000 The Very One Stakes (5 furlongs for fillies and mares on turf). Calvin Borel takes the reins on even money favorite Unbridled Sidney who failed in the G3 Turf Sprint at Churchill on May 4 (after two bullet workouts, but after a long layoff); she hasn’t worked since, but is the class of this field, and should improve in second start after that layoff. Her closest competitor could be Todd Pletcher’s South Necking who last finished third (but only 1-1/2 lengths behind) in the $100K Giants Causeway Stakes at Keeneland on April 21 (her jockey here, Garrett Gomez, was on the winning Forest Code then). She had a very sharp 4 furlong (:46.3) workout at Churchill since then, and looks good here. Smart and Fancy definitely has the speed and the record (including 5 wins in 8 tries in last two years, and never out of the money in that time). However, she has never tried turf. An upset winner could be Carryanun who has not raced since last October, but has worked extremely well and consistently since early March.
Race 11 is the $200,000 Grade 2 Allaire Dupont Breeders’ Cup Distaff Stakes (1-1/16 mile for fillies and mares), and Bobby Frankel’s Sugar Shake is the obvious favorite, coming off two graded stakes wins at Santa Anita where she nearly wired the field both times over this distance. She has not raced since February, but has recorded excellent weekly workouts, including a sharp 5-furlong work on May 14 (:59.3). However, by all accounts, she will scratch here and enter the G2 Shuvue Handicap at Belmont on Saturday. D. Wayne Lukas’ Fiery Pursuit upset Asi Siempre and favorite Indian Vale last time out in the G2 Louisville Breeders’ Cup Stakes over a sloppy Churchill Downs track. She is an early speedball and along with Rolling Sea) could set up a speed duel that allows a closer like Kettleoneup (with Calvin Borel up) to pass them for the win. That filly won last time out with Borel at Hawthorne in the G3 Sixty Sails Handicap, and it is interesting he sticks with her rather than Fiery Pursuit.
The Grade 2 $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes is Race 12, over 1-1/8 mile for three-year-old fillies. Baroness Thatcher skipped the G1 Kentucky Oaks to enter here, but does not appear to be a lock to win. She broke her maiden on Keeneland’s polytrack so her poor performance in the G2 Beaumont there on April 12 is not based on dislike of the surface. She was well beaten by Rags to Riches (and two others) in the G1 Santa Anita Oaks in March at 1-1/16 mile, so it’s hard to believe she could do better going farther. However, Garrett Gomez is back up, and he has been there for her only two wins in eight tries. Todd Pletcher’s Panty Raid is coming off an April 12 $54K allowance race for n1x on Keeneland’s polytrack, and has three solid (if not spectacular) workouts since then. Fee Fi Fo Fum finished third behind High Again and Christmas Kid in the G2 Bonnie Miss Stakes in March at this distance, but severely disappointed in the G2 Comely Stakes last time out. Her workouts since then haven’t exactly inspired further confidence. Winning Point overcame stumbling in the G2 Comely to finish second behind Boca Grande, and has two solid workouts over the Bowie course leading up to this race. She’s never gone beyond a mile, but definitely has the breeding for it. My favorite longshot here: Enchanting Star, who finished second to Sutra in the G1 Frizette last October. Her first race this year was an April 14 A32000n1x hand ride victory at Laurel over 7 furlongs; she has an extremely impressive 5 furlong workout from May 12 (:59.2) that bodes well for a strong performance here.