Hallandale Beach, FL, May 14, 2021 — Like all Gaul, the Preakness is divided into three parts: six prime contenders; two live price shots, and two lovable no-hopers.
And given the dynamics and running styles of the serious contenders, expect a lively battle from pillar to post.
Both Bob Baffert favorites are fast and own tactical speed. Johnny Velazquez will try to break as sharply as he did on the Derby winner two weeks ago, and what choice does Mike Smith have but to send Contour Tour for a clear lead or good drop-in position midway of the first turn?
Javier Castellano also is likely to put Crowded Start in the game early, looking for a first-turn tuck or a reasonable stalking spot. And what do you think Irad Ortiz Jr. will be doing astride Midnight Bourbon? He might be aggressive as well.
It’s about a quick, clean, getaway for all.
The term rider’s race is overused and generally refers to an ultra-marathon or some four-horse field. This one’s a rider’s race because five contenders want to be somewhere in the same vicinity at the same time. Unfortunately, nobody will know what happens until it’s too late.
The most probable winner is Medina Spirit. The disputed Derby winner is the demonstrated fastest, has taken no backward steps, and drawn cozily inside and is capable of coming from slightly off the pace. The reason he looked so badly trying that tack in the Santa Anita is because inside-speed was winning everything going long. But he’s no bargain at Saturday’s probable odds.
Concert Tour is either the goods, or he isn’t. I’m taking a position against, especially after the draw. He’ll appreciate being fresh but won’t appreciate the likely ground loss, demanding distance, and the deepest field he’s ever faced.
Our best guess is that Irad Ortiz will find a way to win. Midnight Bourbon was eliminated from serious contention from the first jump in Louisville. He made ground very late, somewhat unexpectedly, and this being his second start in eight weeks makes today’s two weeks timing a good thing.
I believe both Chad Brown horses are coming in with their ‘A’ races. Missing by a head-bob in his second lifetime start, the G3 Gotham Mile, off a single maiden win sprinting was a big ask for Crowded Start. The Gotham was one of the fastest Derby preps this year. He likely regressed but was by no means disgraced.
No one knows what to make of Risk Taking’s Wood, including his trainer. His best guess was the heavy nature of the kickback from which the colt emerged with caked-up gunk all over him, including inside his blinkers, discouraged him from trying his best. I’m willing to draw the same line through his effort.
Like Midnight Bourbon, Keepmeinmind was virtually eliminated at the start of the Derby. The connections had planned to come off the pace but didn’t plan on trouble away from the barrier nor a rally that carried him approximately eight wide into the lane. And, also like ‘Bourbon’, he kept running to the end.
We think the race will go to the best tripper, and see Midnight Bourbon being the most likely to trip out from a projected pocket trip.
Lamentably, we believe he will be a wise-guy underlay. We will bet to win at 4-1 or greater. We also will key box in all multiple pools first and second with the five named contenders above, adding Rombauer and Unbridled Honor third and fourth in the superfecta pool.
JAMES W MURPHY STAKES Race 8
DESERVING FAVORITE: 2-Outadore 7-5
EARLY LINE VALUE: 6-Arzak (6-1) to win at 5-1 or greater
EXOTICA: Exacta Box 2.6.8-T D Dance (7-2). Trifecta and Superfecta KEYs: 2 // 3-Kasim[8-1].6.7-Charles Chrome [8-1].8.
RUNHAPPY SKIPAT STAKES
DESERVING FAVORITE: 5-Club Wagon (8-5)
EARLY LINE VALUE: 6-Dontletsweetfoolya (6-1) to win at 9-2 or greater
EXOTICA: Exacta Box: 2-Casual [9-2].5.6. Exacta Box: 5.6.8-French Empire (7-2). Superfecta Wheel: 126.96.36.199 // 1-Club Car [8-1].188.8.131.52 // 184.108.40.206.8 // 220.127.116.11.8.
JIM MC KAY TURF SPRINT
DESERVING FAVORITE: 4-The Critical Way (5-2)
EARLY LINE VALUE: 13-Completed Pass (7-2) to win at 7-2 or greater
EXOTICA: Exacta Box: 1-Boldor [6-1].4.13. Exacta Box: 4.5-Hollis [6-1].13. Exacta Box: 4.11-Firecrow [10-1].13. Superfecta Wheel: 4.13 // 18.104.22.168.13 // 22.214.171.124.13 // 126.96.36.199.13.
G3 MARYLAND SPRINT STAKES
DESERVING FAVORITE: 7-Breezy Guest (6-1)
EARLY LINE VALUE: 10-Lebda (12-1) to win at 10-1 or greater **and/or 6-Threes Over Deuces (20-1) at 15-1 or greater
EXOTICA: Exacta Box: 1-Loki [6-1].7.10. Exacta Box: 2-Yodel E A Who [8-1].7.10. *Exacta Box: 188.8.131.52
G2 DINNER PARTY STAKES
DESERVING FAVORITE: 5-Sacred Life (7-5)
EARLY LINE VALUE: 8-Bye Bye Melvin (10-1) to win at (6-1)
EXOTICA: Exacta Box: 1-Somelikeithotbrown [4-1].5.8. Exacta Box: 3-Kurumata [6-1].5.8. Exacta Box: 5.6-Talk Or Listen [8-1].8.
Grade 1 PREAKNESS STAKES
DESERVING FAVORITE: 3-Medina Spirit (9-5)
EARLY LINE VALUE: 5-Midnight Bourbon (5-1) to win at 4-1 or greater
EXOTICA: Exacta Key Box: 5 // 184.108.40.206.10. Exacta Box: 2-Keepmeinmind [8-1]. 4-Crowded Trade [10-1].5.9.
All suggested exotic wagers are at allowable minimums; straight wagers $2
*amended 051521, 8:21 am