Weekend Watch: Seven stakes on Preakness 2018 undercard

May 18, 2018 04:00pm

All eyes will be on Baltimore's Pimlico Race Course on Saturday as Kentucky Derby winner Justify takes on seven in his quest to capture the Triple Crown’s middle jewel, the 2018 Preakness Stakes. Weather in the area has been poor, to the point that trainer Bob Baffert reportedly quipped to D. Wayne Lukas that only missing on the track was an alligator. Rain is expected to continue through Saturday, so bettors would be advised to look for mud and/or soft turf form.

Here's a rundown of the major races and contenders with post times in Eastern Standard.

Seven stakes lead up to the Preakness

The one-mile
James W. Murphy Stakes for 3-year old turf runners drew a field of nine led by recent maiden winner Say the Word. That victory came at 1 3/16 miles, so the James W. Murphy will be a cutback for the More Than Ready gelding. Two of the top three finishers from the Bridgetown at Aqueduct will provide good competition. Black Stetson will try to make it two wins in a row while third place finisher Coltandmississippi will try to improve off his last effort. Of interest to note is that half the field will be making their turf debuts in this spot.

World Approval
will seek to rebound off his disappointing fifth in the Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1) when he drops in to defend last year's win in the Grade 2 Dixie Stakes. There, he will meet familiar foe Divisidero, who will be making his first start since finishing fourth in the Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) in October. Multiple graded stakes winner Frostmourne enters off a career best effort in the Makers 46 Mile (G1), in which he finished fifth beaten just 2 ¼-lengths for it all. Worth taking a look at are Fire Away and Unbridled Juan, the latter of which is racing for the first time after being gelded.

has proven to be a six-furlong specialist so far, amassing a career record of 6: 3-2-1, all at that distance. Because of this, he is the heavy morning line favorite in the Chick Lang Stakes. Mitole comes in off a huge number in Oaklawn Park's Bachelor Stakes last out, earning a 125 Equibase speed figure. For a little more value, try playing Curly’s Rocket, who is a perfect 2-for-2 going six panels and is 6-1 on the morning line compared to Mitole’s 3-5 odds. When it comes right down to it, this is actually a pretty good betting race. I could see any one of Old Time Revival (20-1), Best Pal (G2) winner Run Away (12-1), Pure Shot (10-1), or dual stakes winner Still Having Fun (12-1) winning this.

Last year's winner, Cambodia,
and Elysea’s World are set to clash once more as the heavy favorites in the Grade 3 Gallorette Stakes. Cambodia comes in off a sixth-place finish in the Jenny Wiley (G1), while Elysea’s World was last seen winning the Suwannee River (G3). Ultra Brat also exits the Jenny Wiley, having run 10th in that race. She could not best Elysea’s World in the nine furlong Suwannee River when those two last met, but a cutback to 1 1/16 miles could be just the ticket, and at 5-1 on the morning line, she can give you a nice price.

Long Haul Bay
, winner of the Bay Shore (G3), is 3-for-4 lifetime and your 2-1 favorite in the Grade 3 Maryland Sprint. Breaking from post nine in a field of the same size, the 4-year old colt will likely sit just off the pacesetters. Part of that pace will likely come from Switzerland. It took the colt a little while to put it all together, but he enters off a three race win streak and loves the six furlong Sprint distance. Also worth a look is Lewisfield, who has never been worse than third in his career.

The Very One Stakes, a five-furlong turf sprint, drew a large field of 14, led by 3-1 morning line favorite Girls Know Best. Already a useful runner, the 4-year old filly really moved forward when put on the lawn and has since gone 4: 2-1-0. Her modus operandi is to go to the lead and run them off their feet, so expect jockey Javier Castellano to gun her from gate seven. While there is speed to her inside, Girls Know Best’s biggest competition will come from Smiling Causeway and Just Talkin to her outside.

Immediately prior to the Preakness is the
LARC Sir Barton Stakes, also for 3-year olds. While there aren’t any Derby horses in the field, there are a few in here that are Triple Crown trail-tested. However, it’s new shooter Ax Man, from the same stable as Justify, who is the heavy favorite to win the 1 1/16-mile race. He enters off a monster performance last month, but for more bang for your buck, take a look at Pony Up. His most-recent number is nowhere near Ax Man’s, but he lost the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) by just a neck and was third in the Lexington (G3), beaten by just 2 ½-lengths by eventual Kentucky Derby fifth place finisher My Boy Jack. The Steve Asmussen pair of Title Ready and Dream Baby Dream are also a nice looking duo and dropping in class.

James W. Murphy 12:51 p.m.

G2 Dixie 2:07 p.m.

Chick Lang 2:45 p.m.

G3 Gallorette 3:25 p.m.

G3 Maryland Sprint 4:05 p.m.

The Very One 4:42 p.m.

Sir Barton 5:39 p.m.

Justify stands tall in Preakness

did just that with the hype as he scored a 2 ½-length win in the Kentucky Derby. That made him perfect in four career starts and your 1-2 heavy favorite to win the Preakness Stakes. Runner-up Good Magic is back to try his hoof again at getting to the favorite. Also trying again are Bravazo and Lone Sailor, sixth and eighth in the Derby respectively. Arkansas Derby (G1) runner-up Quip skipped the Derby in favor on this spot and is a strong contender to at least hit the board. Sporting Chance also comes in off a two-week turnaround having run fourth in the Pat Day Mile (G3) on Derby Day. Diamond King is in with an automatic berth after winning Laurel Park’s Federico Tesio Stakes, and Tenfold, as with Quip, exits the Arkansas Derby. Post time is 6:48 p.m.

Some in Tieme drops in class to head Louisville Handicap

When it comes to turf stamina, South America is where it’s at. Their runners may not be quite as fast as ours, but they can run all day. Such is the case of Brazilian-bred
Some in Tieme. He is not quite in the same league as the best of America's turf routers, but he’s a strong favorite to defend his win in the Grade 3 Louisville Handicap given the competition he’s faced in his last four starts compared to what he will face here. Fellow Brazilian bred Vettori Kin is also a strong contender in this race, as well as Designed for War and Roman Approval. Post time is 5:26 p.m.

Con Te Partiro
looks strong in Arlington Matron

Con Te Partiro
has never tried the all-weather surface before, but she’s already a winner on turf and dirt, indicating to me that she should take to this new surface just fine in the Grade 3 Arlington Matron. Daddy’s Boo, on the other hand, is a perfect 2-for-2 on the all-weather with both of those victories coming at Arlington Park. The 7-year old mare may not be in the same class as Con Te Partiro, but the horse for course angle could move her up. Based on class, Apologynotaccepted could be a good play. She hasn’t won on all-weather but she did run well on the surface despite shying into the first turn of the Latonia Stakes at Turfway Park. Also worth a look are Babybluesbdancing and Princess La Quinta, both local runners. Post time is 5:44 p.m. 


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Meet Ashley Tamulonis

Despite growing up in a non-horse racing state, Ashley has been a fan of the sport since a young age. Her love for horse racing was fostered through the kids’ book series Thoroughbred by Joanna Campbell, which led her to educate herself on the ins and outs of the sport. Since becoming actively involved in the industry just a few years ago, Ashley has had the opportunity to meet many important players in the industry, attend the Eclipse Awards, see personal favorite Mucho Macho Man race twice in person, and befriend many of the fantastic fans and horsemen involved in the sport.

Ashley began her time with Horse Racing Nation covering racing in South Florida but also blogged about nationwide racing, industry issues and, from time to time, offered her opinion on how various changes could be beneficial to the industry. A move North to New Hampshire began both a new chapter in both Ashley's personal life and professional life. She currently pens the From Coast to Coast blog for HRN. Ashley also participates as a voter in the NTRA Top Thoroughbred Polls.

An alumni of Macon State College, Ashley is from Central Georgia but is currently living in New Hampshire with her husband, Chris, and their two sons Charlie and Michael. A stay-at-home mom, Ashley juggles parenting with blogging and her other passions. Aside from horse racing, Ashley is a fervent football fan, enjoys reading and studying history, and hopes to someday author a historical work covering the Tudor period as well as biographies of horse racing’s stars, equine and human alike.

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