Hallandale Beach, FL, May 4, 2021 – If you think Medina Spirit was fast in Louisville, you can bet Concert Tour will be faster in Baltimore. The question will be whether he’s made of that same gallant stock that the Bob Baffert stand-in demonstrated in Derby-147.
The Derby record-setting trainer, who rolled a ‘7’ on Saturday, got another bullet for his Preakness holster when owner Gary West decided that he “wants to take a shot” in the Triple Crown’s second leg with Concert Tour, according to Jay Privman of Daily Racing Form.
We’re sure Baffert won’t mind having two chances that could bring him a record eighth Preakness victory.
Whatever the horsemen decide, nothing will be set in stone until this weekend when several will either work or gallop their way into the race; that’s when final plans firm up. What we do know is that the geared-down Rebel winner and Arkansas Derby third will have no pre-race excuses.
Caddo River, forced to miss the Derby, will enter the Classics picture at this juncture. His speedy style fits the Pimlico oval and all have learned he is best when allowed to run freely, and he’s fast enough to outrun anyone for the early lead.
This would set up Mandaloun perfectly. With the mini-turnback and an anticipated lively race, he would be able to race without restraint early, settle into a rhythm and, if he repeats his Derby run, the Preakness table could be set beautifully for him.
No trainer wants to run back at this level with two weeks spacing but until there’s a schedule change, if you want a piece of history and no part of a mile and a half, this is the only opportunity left. It’s the timing a hard race that keeps Essential Quality in the barn for this one.
We’re betting that Cox will point to Derby favorite to New York, where the colt’s tactical speed, rhythmic style and stamina should serve him very well in a race that always has suited speedy gallopers with endurance.
The Crowded Trade scenario is reminiscent of Cloud Computing, Chad Brown’s 2017 Preakness winner. Lightly raced with three starts, he’s shown good developmental signs with each run.
Crowded Start missed by a head-bobbing nose in his pace-chasing G3 Gotham next out, one of the fastest Derby preps this year, prior to his wide- stretch-entering third in the Wood, 2021’s slowest Triple Crown prep. Still a tad green, he showed versatility with a solid late finish.
Other possible starters are Derby sixth finisher Midnight Bourbon, who missed the break and lost any serious chance; late-developing Ram from D Wayne Lukas, looking for his seventh score at Old Hilltop, and Rombauer, more than a filler as a winner the El Camino Real then a tough-trip Blue Grass third.
Lexington runnerup Unbridled Honor is a possibility to the list but Japanese import and France Go de Ina is expected to start. This handle generator is hard to take seriously after being embarrassed in Dubai last time out.
Like the Derby, the Preakness is shaping up as another good betting race and interesting handicapping puzzle. It’s only 11 days until the race but there will be much more to shake out now once the picture is completed.
Arlington Park Lives?
Happy to note that within the last 24 hours, the Village of Arlington Heights passed an ordinance preventing Churchill Downs Inc, from placing restrictive covenants on the future sale of the Arlington property to a racetrack owner wishing to seek alternate forms of gambling to fund purses.
CDI caught the racing world off guard when it announced earlier this year that it would offer the property for sale but use the existing racing license somewhere else in Illinois, reneging on its promise to pursue a casino license for Arlington.
Churchill Downs already owns a casino property in the area, Rivers Casino, a short 17-mile drive from Arlington International, and reasoned that by doing so they would put CDI in competition with itself, jeopardizing its majority ownership in the casino property.
In sum, the Village of Arlington Heights wants all the options for any future owner available that would continue Arlington’s use as a horse racing facility and/or part of a grander design as an Arlington International Village development that presumable would include a hotel, shops, and perhaps even a new stadium for the Chicago Bears.
To affect all this, zoning laws and existing regulations would need to be revised to ensure the area serves the best interests of the community and preserve one of the structures that lends prestige and a sense of tradition to the greater Chicago area. It will be interesting to see how CDI responds.
Fans at Saratoga
WNYT, the NBC-TV affiliate in Albany, NY, reported this week that Saratoga Race Course announced official capacity of 17,000 fans, a number that clearly reflects the number of seats available.
With current restrictions limited to 20 percent capacity for businesses serving the public, Saratoga Race Course has the right to sell 3,400 seats based on social-distancing guidelines.
On May 18, New York City, once Ground Zero of the Covid-19 pandemic, will be fully operational again.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to accelerate openings of public facilities throughout the state, so that Spa number could increase if current trends continue favorably.