John Pricci

HorseRaceInsider.com executive editor John Pricci has over three decades of experience as a thoroughbred racing public handicapper and was an award-winning journalist while at New York Newsday for 18 years.

John has covered 14 Kentucky Derbies and Preaknesses, all but three Breeders' Cups since its inception in 1984, and has seen all but two Belmont Stakes live since 1969.

Currently John is a contributing racing writer to MSNBC.com, an analyst on the Capital Off-Track Betting television network, and co-hosts numerous handicapping seminars. He resides in Saratoga Springs, New York.

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Tuesday, May 31, 2016


Belmont Stakes Pace Will Take Care of Itself


HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., May 31, 2016—As of this posting, 11 days remain until the running of the Belmont Stakes and already much has been made of the lack of pace in the event. Turf writers are writing about and trainers are talking about it.

What to do?

I have a suggestion that perhaps we should all calm down just a tad. No, there are no lead-to-lead types in this year’s race like there were in the Preakness, but that doesn’t guarantee a lack of pace. Let’s consider this question.

Is a half-mile in 48 seconds flat too fast or two slow for three-race-olds racing a mile and a half in early-to-mid June? In our opinion, that would be perfect to insure an honest, competitive race.

There are mitigating factors, of course, atmospherics and track condition to name two but a half-mile in 48 is the perfect 12-clip around which the racing and training game is built.

But if that seems slow, consider this. If one strings 12-clips together for the entire trip, the result is Secretariat’s 2:24 track and trip record.

The problem with sustaining the benchmark of 12 seconds per furlong is that t this rate, the runnerup would find himself 31 fence-post notches in arrears.

Among the nine possible/probable starters in this year’s event being considered at the moment, almost half of them are capable of a half-mile in 48. The problem, of course, is holding that momentum all the way home.

There are some very nice horses in this year’s renewal but none ever will be confused with Big Red of Meadow Stable, albeit Stradavari and Suddenbreakingnews both start with an ‘S’.

Speaking of the former, it must be noted that the lack of need-the-lead runners did lead to Stradavari’s name being added to the Belmont list. Among his other talents, Todd Pletcher can read a form.

Pletcher may have issues with his Derby and Preakness results but need not apologize for winning two Belmonts, one with a filly and the other getting a Derby runoff named Palace Malice to go a mile and a half after removing blinkers.

Pletcher will throw a pair of ‘cheaters’ on the son of Medaglia d’Oro or maybe he won’t. Maybe his other slated entrant, Destin, will set the pace. Either one is capable of striding away comfortably in front.

Stradavari, in fact, was wide and rank chasing a hot pace in Baltimore, Johnny Velazquez alternately trying to get the long striding colt to settle while trying to pressure those that would keep the pressure on Nyquist.

Note, too, that in his allowance win prior to the Preakness, he say a length off of a 47 2/5 half mile before winning by 14 eagle-spreading lengths in 1:48 3/5 which is, of course, 3/5s of a second short of a perfect 12-clip.

Well, as above, he does have a name that starts with an ‘S’.

However, stablemate Destin was a half-length off the Tampa Derby pace before completing a mile and a sixteenth in very crisp 1:42 4/5. And lest we forget he finished ahead of 14 Derby rivals in a troubled journey that began at the starting gate.

If, however, neither tack is in the offing, there is another contender that not only can set and 12-clippish pace and hold that margin to the finish, and that would be from-the-clouds Derby runnerup and Preakness hero Exaggerator.

Jogging memory, he did win the Delta Jackpot in near wire fashion at 2 then next time sat right on Nyquist’s hip in the 7-furlong San Vicente, chasing splits of 22 2/5 and 44 2/5 through six furlongs in 1:08 2/5 finishing 1-1/2 lengths behind the champ’s 1:20 3/5 at the finish.

And, as Kent Desormeaux reminded a national television audience in Baltimore, knowledge is power, indeed. The Belmont is the quintessential “rider’s race.” Not to worry, this group will figure it all out.

JUST WHAT WE ALL WANTED…

Good to see that Nyquist is recovering nicely and will return to SoCal June 5. Providing Exaggerator runs well the following weekend and recovers nicely, it will be good to see them hook up again now that it’s real rivalry; 4-0 did not a rivalry make… Reports are that Dale Romans’ tandem of Cherry Wine and Brody’s Cause seem spot on. Having Cherry Wine work a half mile, galloping out five-eighths in 1:03 obviously speaks to his condition. And while we didn’t see it, Brody’s Cause appears to have worked like a monster. A stamina-inducing mile in 1:42, galloping out nine furlongs in 1:56 2/5 looks like a perfect move…

Creator, a roughed-up 13th in the Derby, also had what appears a beneficial trial. Beneath Florent Geroux, he worked five furlongs in 1:02, galloping out six furlongs in 1:15 with a double gallop-out in 1:28 4/5 for seven-eighths. Irad Ortiz Jr. rides him in the Belmont… Suddenbreakingnews worked six furlongs at his Churchill base Sunday in 1:12 2/5 and galloped out “really strong” according to trainer Donnie Von Hemel, who has booked Mike Smith for the Belmont.

Written by John Pricci

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Friday, May 27, 2016


Thumbnails on All Entrants in Belmont’s All-Turf Pick 4 Saturday


LATE PICK 4 BREAKDOWN at BELMONT PARK for May 28, 2016

Exclusively for 123GAMING at http://www.123BET.com


Listed in post-position order by program number


RACE 7: ALLOWANCES 3 & UP 1-1/16 MILES INNER TURF

1-Easy Comparison (30-1) has early speed but is winless in four turf starts and only one of 4 siblings have won on turf. Trainer 0-for last 60 starts on grass.

2-Performance Bonus (6-1) won recent two-turn debut for Chad in Parx off-the-turfer. Of dam’s 7 winners to race, only one grass winner. Trainer 30% profitable FT turf; mixed signals.

3-Harpoon (12-1) is 1-for-11 on grass, owns a few competitive Pricci Energy Rating and Bruce Brown can get them ready off lengthy layoffs but barn having tough luck at meet (26) 0-3-7 through Wednesday.

4-Captain Moss (10-1) is 2-for-2 on Belmont turf 1-for-12 doing anything else and earned competitive PER last out for Englehart, 25% with repeaters. Tough dynamics for likely stalker. (continued)

5-Hello Don Julio (3-1) could not handle yielding ground in course debut after chasing pace in 12-furlong Grade 2 prior at GP. Will have no excuses here for Dilger, profitable with allowance routers.

6-Circus Performer (7-2) had improved early speed for Todd in KEE finale last out at 1-1/2 miles. Conditioning edge on these turning-back and reunites with winning pilot Rosario here.

7-Tale of Fancy (4-1) racing in career form for Tagg, has earned good PERs in 2 of last 3, handles any type of ground And Reunites with winning partner Jose Ortiz; 2-for-5 at this trip, 0-for-6 all others.

8-Mark My Style (5-1) earned top Rating winning his last, has won this course and distance, fits race dynamics nicely for Toscano, profitable with repeaters and second-off-layup types. Luis Saez re-rides.

9-Mobridge (15-1) is not impossible despite 17-month absence with Mott calling shots and winning rider Alvarado aloft. Owns 3-for-11 lifetime slate with all wins this course/distance.


RACE 8: PARADISE CREEK STAKES 3YO 7 FURLONGS WIDENER TURF


1-Conquest See Ya (2-1) was well back to win course and turf debut, flashing much improved speed to hold off recent repeater Drop Shot. Getting six pounds, nicely positioned and Lezcano on return call for live Casse shed.

2-Wicked Wink (10-1) raced very wide in latest sloppy track mile, his U.S. debut. Lacks turf experience and both mare’s foals winless on grass. But Albertrani is 19% profitable turf to dirt and Javier sticks. Head-scratcher.

3-El Charro (7-5) Main Track Only

4-Rappel (6-1) has excellent PERs, owns stakes experience, reunites with winning rider Franco and goes first Lasix for Ribaudo, a profitable 27% efficient this year. Turnback into sprint suits; value on early line.

5-Too Discreet (4-1) is a talented New York-bred turfer that has run well in three lifetime starts, including two stakes, for Clement. Too fresh early in 2016 debut going longer now turns back with tactical speed and sprint kick reuniting with winning partner Rosario.

6-John Q. Public (12-1) may be the speed of the speed and has shown some improvement since entering Wilkes barn four back. Worked bullet for this and switches to aggressive turf ace Carmouche.

7-Condo King (8-5) Main Track Only

8-Mighty Mo (8-5) In-form Pletcher entrant just missed in the Woodhaven, an Aqueduct two-turner, earning excellent figure. Lightly raced, turf meant and gets switch to Johnny; deserving favorite.


RACE 9: ALLOWANCES 3 & UP 6 FURLONGS INNER TURF

2-Royal Asset (3-1) was willing third in well-back debut on turf at this trip despite gate issues then won two straight on dirt vs state-breds, earning excellent PERs. Out-posted when wide trip victim in 3YO finale. Maturity angle here; Ward 23% profitable with 90-days+ layups, sharp works at KEE base, and Rosario on the re-ride.

3-C’mon Boys (30-1) has run competitively going longer in all firm-turf starts but one and Goldberg profitable with 90-days+ layups and with shippers. Switch to Lezcano augurs well; live price shot potential.

4-Sunny Puzzle (7-2) Main Track Only

5-Rootformejustin (6-1) earned lifetime best PER in fast sprint this course and distance as 2015 3YO. Terranova 15% profitable with long layups. From good producer, including turf, and reunites with winning partner Cancel for 4YO debut. Right style and position.

6-Lord of Love (4-1) was a top-figure PER third in recent return from freshening on yielding ground at 7F and won at this distance last year. Owns 2-for-6 slate on turf at the trip and is 1-for-29 doing anything else. Switches back to Irad.

7-Disco Partner (7-2) earns top PERs with consistency and is 2 of 3 lifetime wins have come on this ground. Purposeful, steady works since early April for return and both prior wins came beneath jockey Alvarado.

1-Dominic’s Smile (6-1) gelding makes belated 4YO debut in second start for Klesaris, a 22% scenario. Won all three starts at this trip on turf, albeit vs. claimers. Leading rider Jose Ortiz, profitable with all turf runners, takes the call. Apparently live here.

8-Sanctify (10-1) has been in-and-out but 2 of 3 career wins have come on grass, including one on this course at distance. Returns fresh for Mott capable with layups and has been working very well this this since mid-April. Gets Saez; value at early line odds.

9-River Dancer (30-1) is 1-for-1 this course and distance but lacks figures to compete effectively here.

1A-Three For Me (6-1) loves turf (13) 5-2-1 including 2 over this ground for Klesaris, profitable with his grass runners. Makes second start off the layup and reunites with winning rider Castellano.

10-The Greatwhiteway (8-1) Main Track Only

11-Canadian Flyer (8-1) earned top turf figure when third in 3YO finale and had very rough trip in season’s debut Feb 14 at GP [see replay]. Uncoupled Mott reuniting with winning rider Velazquez with strong recent works; value at early line odds.


RACE 10: MAIDEN CLAIMING F&M 3 & UP 1-1/16 MILES WIDENER TURF

1-Skillman Avenue (6-1) was a decent one-paced, well meant fifth in sloppy off-turfer in recent debut despite troubled start now tries first for Schettino, profitable with second-time starters and turf debut types; attracts Lezcano.

2-Three Eighty Eight (4-1) placed gamely in turf and racing debut despite troubled start and racing wide into stretch, earning competitive PER; sharp work for return and Saez sticks.

3-Bareeqa (8-1) had two trips in two turf starts to begin career now tries claimers for first time on that surface following series of show finishes on dirt. Bruce Brown generally underrated on turf and gets first-time Rosario.

4-Jennifer’s Legacy (10-1) showed improvement in second start going first-time long in off-turner at this trip and of dam’s 3 winners to race, one won on grass. Ryerson having tough-luck meet.

5-Sophia’s Choice (3-1) earned good figures on this course last year given similar dynamics now drops in with claimer for the first time for Carlos Martin, enjoyable a profitable 2016 and Jose Ortiz sticks after showing early speed and finishing last of 12 in return. Turf bred both sides; improvement expected.

6-Love Blues (5-1) earned competitive PER in turf and route debut on Big A grass for Schettino, also enjoying profitable year, but loses Ortiz to Sophia’s Choice.
7-Seek Praise (50-1) showed very little in two starts and not particularly turf meant; makes second start since claimed from debut.

8-Itsthemoney (15-1) moved forward in second start, both on turf, at GP now ships in for Antonucci, profitable in 2016. Taking confident class hike in first go with New York-breds; wakeup potential at a price.

9-That Warrior Girl (50-1) hasn’t hit the board in 15 starts vs. weaker on either surface.

10-Forma’s Joy (15-1) drops in with claimers for the first time in second start for Steven Jerkens. Has back figures that more than compete with this group. More wakeup potential.

11-She’s All Love (6-1) showed much improvement when narrowly beaten vs slower group but in open company while making turf and distance debut at Laurel. Ships in for state-bred debut for Wooley, enjoying profitable 2016 with limited starters and 2-for-3 with second-time turf runners. Properly spotted.

12-Baronet (15-1) Coach Henning’s filly takes confident class rise for Sciacca who specializes with price shots on turf, profitable in FT grass scenarios. Franco on the re-ride but dam’s three foals winless thus far. Mixed signals.

13ae-Pegasus Storm (50-1) has yet to be close and at long odds.

14ae-Grey En Blue (20-1) has not had easy trip in any of three lifetime starts, including recent 3YO debut in which she was out-posted sprinting. Contessa is better in LAY-2 scenarios and reaches out for first-time Javier here. Ignore at your peril.

15ae-Justenufflaughter (20-1) raced wide throughout last after earning competitive PER in Big A turf finale when entered for a price for the first time. Likes this course, reunites with Luzzi but has had 17 chances to find the circle.

16ae-Mizzentop (30-1) is working unspectacularly for debut but barn is first rate state-bred nursery known to pop with occasional FTS at a price. Owns enough viable grass pedigree; price shot if able to draw in.

See Saturday's Feature Race Analysis for On-the-Record Selections






Written by John Pricci

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Friday, May 20, 2016


All Stakes Late Pick 4 Preakness Fans


Exclusively for 123BET.com

The following is a thumbnail sketch of every horse in today’s Late Pick 4 at Pimlico, concluding with the 141st running of the Preakness Stakes. All horses listed by program number with early line odds

RACE 10 G3 GALLORETTE STAKES F & M 3 & UP 1-1/16 MILES TURF


1-MONSTER SLEEPING (15-1) has worthy turf slate (10) 4-3-2 but winless in two starts at the trip, makes course debut and owns slow figures. Of six sibs to win, she’s the lone grass winner.

2-PEACE PRIZE (30-1) raced greenly in U.S. debut but rallied gamely for place and was claimed into barn that doe OK with new acquisitions given a limited sample. Rider Kali 2-for-9 for this barn but this is entirely different animal for this 4YO.

3-TIGER RIDE (7-2) has won half of her six turf starts, including two at this trip, has competitive Pricci Energy Ratings with this group and makes third start off the layup for Motion, profitable with graded stakes runners, and barn regular Prado in the boot.

4-CAMILLIE CLAUDEL (20-1) of dams two offspring to win, none have come on turf. Best guess for recent secondary allowances winner is that she’s looking for race to shift to wet main track.

5-OL’ FASHION GAL (6-1) looks like bargain purchase for $60K is a nicely developing 4YO winner of Grade 3s in both Canada and U.S. Stable rider Leparoux aloft but this class jump looks formidable here. Interesting prospect.

6-NISHARONA (12-1) is 5YO daughter of mare that has produced four turf victors from as many winners to race including her. Returns with bounce-rebound pattern, she handles any type of ground but this is ambitious win spot for turf barn yet to win a graded stakes.

7-FLYING TIPAT (15-1) boasts ordinary 2-for-15 turf slate at lower levels and has run to run a competitive figure. Romans’ charges know for surprises and is reaching for home boy Lanerie here.

8-JOSDESAIMEAUX (4-1) is a lightly raced 4YO with gaps in her running lines but has repeatedly brought her ‘A’ game recently. Owns competitive recent PERs and is second off a layoff for Casse/Lezcano team that’s enjoying profitable 2016.

9-MISS MONEY (9-2) is a nicely developing 4YO that was highly competitive in overnight stakes at Fair Grounds this winter. Returns fresh with steady works for Flint barn, whose horses often outrun their odds. Note switch to Castellano.

10-GINGER N RYE (12-1)placed gamely in a Laurel overnighter when making slowly run 4YO debut. Figures to benefit for crafty turf connections (limited sample) and owns promising turf slate (4) 2-2-0 with a win at this trip.

11-VIELSALM (30-1) the closest she’s come to this level of competition is a narrow defeat vs. Maryland-breds last year as 5YO. Beaten 3-1/2 lengths in tough-trip sprint return from layup Apr. 24 but draw does her no favors.

12-HEATH (6-1) makes second start off the layup for Mott (21%) in which she handled 11 rivals off the bench and has been very competitive in overnight turf stakes. Owns versatile style beneath versatile Geroux with worthy 3-for-8 turf slate, including two wins at the trip.


RACE 11 SIR BARTON STAKES 3YOs 1-1/16 MILES


1-LAZARUS PROJECT (20-1) has never been worse than second in five career starts that includes two wins. Nicely bred for wet and added distance, well drawn and attracts Gary Stevens. Orseno profitable with this type of spacing.

2-CADEYRN (15-1) recently broke maiden after adding blinkers, earning excellent PER, and is bred nicely for wet both sides of pedigree and for distance on top side. Jeremiah Englehart otherworldly 33% profitable with his shippers, has crisp recent works and picks up Rosario.

3-KINGSLAYER (15-1) is 2-for-2 since Servis added blinkers earning excellent figures, albeit at Parx. Bred both sides for added distance and wet ground with Navarro taking a return call.

4-VOLUNTARIO (10-1) just missed in route debut, a one-turn mile at Aqueduct, now ships in for Rudy Rod with switch to Rosario. Bred for added distance on dam’s side.

5-AMERICAN FREEDOM (5-2) had troubled trip when ambitiously spotted in G3 Pat Day. Has wet pedigree, bred both sides for added distance, worked crisply at CD before shipping in for Baffert, a 31% scenario. Highly regarded colt could rebound quickly here.

6-DONEGAL MOON (8-1) raced very wide in G1 Blue Grass, losing all chance, following big-figure 13 lengths score at Parx. Pletcher has excellent recent at Pimlico—profitable with shippers overall—and can improve quickly given switch to Castellano.

7-DAZZING GEM (9-2) had been seriously considered for Preakness run but has found likelier winning spot here. Third in Gun Runner’s Louisiana Derby, moved prematurely and wide when fourth in G1 Arkansas Derby. Well placed and picks up Luis Saez.

8-MOON KING (15-1) has improved in both recent starts after switching to route racing, befitting pedigree and connections. Mare’s four offspring all winners, bred for wet and reunites with winning rider Leparoux.

9-CHARMED VICTORY (20-1) goes turf to dirt for Jenkins, 19% effective in that scenario. Likely to improve but unlikely to seriously challenge the top win contenders signed on here.

10-DISCREET LOVER (15-1) has improved markedly after he began routing three starts back beneath Flores, including placing to Kingslayer and Preakness entrant Abiding Star, earning competitive PERs. Rider sticks.

11-I CAME TO PARTY (20-1) was more aggressive after adding blinkers for recent turnback into sprint. Nicely bred for wet but stretching out again with dubious distance pedigree.

12-FEARLESS DRAGON (20-1) was given two starts but found the range in second KEE start at being well back at the widows for no apparent reason. There’s no telling how good. Bred for wet but not the trip.

13-GONE LOCAL (30-1) hasn’t started since being badly outrun in OBS Championship in Ocala this January. Won 50K maiden-claiming prior by 10. Bred for trip, O’Connell can get one ready, Prado takes the call but post a killer.

14-GETTYSBURG (5-1) has enough class and talent to overcome horrible position and stayed fairly well after setting solid pressured pace from post 12 in Creator’s Arkansas Derby. Todd/Johnny runner has been meeting the division’s best; this is easier, post notwithstanding.


RACE 12: G2 DIXIE STAKES 3 & UP 1-1/16 MILES TURF

1-LONG ON VALUE (12-1) is 4-for-14 on turf with three seconds but winless in four starts at the trip and one over this course. Goes well when fresh, has pole position and handy style fits switch to Geroux. Three purposeful works at BEL base for this.

2-ZA APPROVAL (10-1) is graded stakes tough and always fires, earning good figure on both the TG and PER scales. Worked lights out at CD base for return here with Casse reaching out for Leparoux. Gelded 8YO makes season’s debut but has won when fresh.

3-CAPTAIN DIXIE (20-1) earned improved Energy Rating in second start following Ness claim, SOP for this outfit. Of four lifetime turf wins, three have comes at the trip; Juarez takes the return call but seems to prefer firm footing.

4-TAKEOVER TARGET (8-1) is not as fast as some of these but fast enough to score in second start off the layup for Chad/Irad team. Still developing 4YO owns two graded wins and two of his four lifetime wins have come at the distance. Cut in the ground only helps further.

5-CONQUEST TYPHOON (15-1) has been compromised by tough trips this season including too-late finish from last in G1 Makers Mark going a mile. Working great since then and reunites with winning rider Lezcano.

6-GOLDEN SABRE (15-1) is an in-and-out gelded 6YO that has demonstrated that synthetic surfaces are his best game. Still, it’s Graham Motion, who remains profitable in graded stakes.

7-GRAND ARCH (4-1) is an extremely classy G1 winner who earns excellent figures by any measure, acts on any footing and a very laudable (4) 2-1-1 at this trip. With tactical speed and kick, always eligible to work out a trip beneath regular pilot Saez.

8-PRINCE GAGARIN (15-1) was a resolute winner of his U.S. debut over soft ground at KEE while making 4YO debut for Matz. Group placed in Europe, still developing 4YO is 1-for-1 at the distance and note switch to Castellano.

9-RING WEEKEND (9-2) is easier the stronger half of uncoupled Motion entry, a multiple graded winner who took the G1 Kilroe Mile when last seen—14 months ago. But trainer is 21% profitable with 90-days+ returnees and gelded 5YO, working well at Fair Hill base, picks up Johnny.

10-EL KABEIR (20-1) was on the classics trail last year enjoying mixed success, lacks any turf experience and appears to be looking for a rescheduled turf event for Terranova, who is profitable with lengthy layups.

11-FORCE THE PASS (5-1) was a good third while appearing in need of 4YO debut in which he was pressed/pressing on the lead throughout in G3 Appleton. G1 winner at 3 was a good second in the Murphy here in 2015 and has four solid works (two bullets) since his last.

12-TAKE THE STAND (6-1) has been freshened by Mott awaiting this since taking the G2 Muniz at FG this winter. Owns worthy (11) 6-2-0 turf slate with versatile running style. Winning rider Prado takes the return call.

13-CAGE FIGHTER (20-1) hails from barn that’s profitable 15% in LAY-2 scenarios and acts on any ground but don’t know how much he got from season’s debut when he was eased is also is poorly drawn.


RACE 13 G1 PREAKNESS STAKES 3YO 1-3/16 MILES

1-CHERRY WINE (20-1) has yet to win a stakes yet was 9-2 in 14-horse G1 Blue Grass, coming from far back for third after encountering trouble, beaten 1-3/4s for all of it, missing place by a nose. Acts on any footing, especially wet, has an explosive turn of foot that fits race dynamics and Pimlico layout.

2-UNCLE LINO (20-1) was second in the G3 Lewis Memorial, third to Exaggerator in the SA Derby, then gamely withstood pace pressure to win California Chrome Stakes at Los Alamitos. Better than generally rated but this is an extremely tall mountain to climb.

3-NYQUIST (3-5) How can one say a bad word about the seventh undefeated winner in Kentucky Derby history? Nothing except that was a career effort on the Thoro Graph scale and he returns in two weeks. Very classy, athletic, tractable with disposition and heart. Managed brilliantly and handled wet footing at GP. THE one to beat.

4-AWESOME SPEED (30-1) has won four of six lifetime starts including the Mucho Macho Man at GP and just missed in the Tesio at Laurel. Alan Goldberg 24% profitable in graded stakes. Very talented runner but speedy style works against today’s dynamics.

5-EXAGGERATOR (3-1) was monstrous winning sloppy G1 Santa Anita Derby by 6-1/4 lengths and was an excellent second in Nyquist’s Derby coming from nearly 20 lengths back between calls. Honest and hickory tough, he’s suited by dynamics and promise of wet footing. Excellent value at early line odds.

6-LANI (30-1), the Peck’s Bay Boy of the 2016 sophomore class, ironically was bumped by Destin soon after the Derby start then was forced wide into the stretch. No amount of trip handicapping can level the playing field enough to make this boy a serious win threat but price shot should not be ignored in exotic positions.

7-COLLECTED (10-1) has won four of six career starts including two Grade 3s and has won going nine furlongs. Bred on both sides for wet footing and Mr Baffert is 31% effective with shippers. Speed/pressing style works against today’s dynamics, however.

8-LAOBAN (30-1) was second in the Gotham racing with an inside bias then finished fourth, beaten 4-3/4 lengths, in the Blue Grass. Failed to make the Derby cut but returns here with a new rider, gifted Florent Geroux. But a tall order, obviously.

9-ABIDING STAR (30-1) is an Uncle Mo 3-year-old most bettors never heard of. Obviously has quality having won five straight from 6-1/2 furlongs to 1-mile 70 yards. But it’s a lot farther from Bensalem, Pa to Baltimore, Md. than a roadmap indicates.

10-FELLOWSHIP (30-1) moved prematurely when fourth, beaten 5 lengths in G3 Pat Day Mile behind streaking Sharp Azteca on Derby undercard. One turn mile should serve as perfect prep for stretch back to two turns. Late run style suits dynamics and could land a share.

11-STRADAVARI (8-1) is the dark horse of Preakness 141. Won both two turn appearances by a total of 25 lengths, earning excellent figures, and has continued to train well for Pletcher/Johnny team. Looks set for his first foray into stakes, and he had better be in light of Saturday’s challenge. Post draw obviously hurts chances.

See Saturday's Feature Race Analysis for On the Record Selections

Written by John Pricci

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