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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Preakness Day

Post time for the G 3 Gallorette is an ungodly 11:30 a.m., and the next race isn’t until over an hour later? How odd. [edited to add: ah, they ran the G1 Arabians race in between]. Zagora disappointed as the favorite last out in the G1 Jenny Wiley, and I fear she needs more early speed to close into than she’ll get today. Since Javier Castellano sticks with Zagora, Ramon Dominguez picks up the ride on Laughing who gets a nice 6-pound weight advantage off her foe. She’s a half sister to the monster Viva Pataca, and has already won going longer—in last June’s Nijinsky Stakes at Leopardstown, at 200 to 1, no less! I also like Smart Sting here, cutting back and regaining the services of John Velazquez.

Not sure I can articulate why exactly, but I love the old warrior Ravalo to pop a surprise in the G3 Maryland Sprint—it looks to be a pretty weak field overall so thus willing to take a flyer on the old boy [blah, he's scratched!]. The James W. Murphy looks evenly contested, though, with Easy Crossing shortening up and coming in off a break with Ramon Dominguez aboard for Christophe Clement, a potent combo. The other Clement entry is on the far outside, Achilles; his dam Solvig was a dual-G3 winner on turf and lots of quality turfsters in his family, so expect him to do well moving up in class. Returning to turf should help Gold Megillah, as it should Hammers Terror who finished ahead of him in the G3 Lexington last out. For a price, though, I’ll risk some bucks on Jimmy Toner trainee Two Months Rent who just missed against older horses last out. Interestingly, Illinois Derby winner Done Talking is in here, trying turf for the first time—or maybe he’ll be a scratch when the race stays on turf?

Honestly, I’m ambivalent about the G3 Allaire Dupont, as none in here particularly thrill me. Absinthe Minded is too irregular in her efforts to inspire confidence, and new shooter Awesomemundo is a bit green for my taste. Love and Pride should like shortening up, but I’ll probably risk some on Canadian Mistress off her form against Awesome Maria this year.

The G2 Dixie features Casino Host coming in off two big wins this year—and there lays the problem. Then again, there’s not much in the way of quality turf horses these days in the U.S. so maybe this is the best we get. Oh, how I long for the days of Einstein, Better Talk Now and even Paddy O’Prado! Smart Bid won the G3 Fair Grounds Handicap, and then bombed last out. Hudson Steele looks promising second-up, and for a price Humble and Hungry could be a contender.

Finally, the Preakness…I’ve already expressed my lack of passion for this field, especially the Derby winner. That said, if the track plays like it did on Friday with early speed holding, only those who run on pace will have a chance: Bodemeister and I’ll Have Another, naturally, but also based on prior form, Creative Cause and Cozzetti. Went The Day Well will have to stay closer than he did in the Derby (which he did when he broke his maiden), and even with the blinkers added Tiger Walk just has too much drama for me now with the jockey change to Ramon Dominguez. Regardless of his win last out here, I can’t take Pretension seriously based on his prior form. A longshot exotics play could be Teeth of the Dog if he too stays close early. Bottom line: I’ll be rooting for Creative Cause if Bodemeister fails to fire.