Jeff Siegel: Pimlico's Preakness Day Full-Card Analysis & Picks

Specifically designed for the rolling exotic player, Jeff Siegel’s “What You Need to Know” isolates those horses that should be included in daily doubles, pick-3s, pick-4s, pick-5s, and the pick-6.

The selections are posted at 6:00 a.m. and updated later in the morning to reflect late scratches and changes (approximately 10:30 a.m.).  For additional commentary, follow us on twitter @jsiegelracing.

Grade Descriptions:  Grade A=Highest degree of confidence; Grade B=Solid Play.  Grade C=Least preferred or pass; Grade X=probable winner but likely at odds too short to play.

RACE 1:  Post:  10:30 ET Grade:  C+
Main Ticket: 4-Master of Malice; 9-Lieutenant General; 10-Gift Exchange
Backups/savers: 1-Irish Heartbeat.  

Forecast: Master of Malic finished a distant second in his only start last June at Delaware (he was six lengths clear of the rest) before being stopped on.  He finally makes it back to the races for a barn that has superior stats with layoff runners, and if the son of Palace Music returns as well as he left he’ll rate a decent long shot chance (8-1 on the morning line) in this wide open abbreviated turf sprint for straight maidens.  With More than Ready on the bottom side of his pedigree, he’s got a right to move up on grass.  Lieutenant General displayed good speed at Keeneland in a hot race before weakening to finish a distant fourth last month; this group is considerably easier and the shortening up from seven furlongs to five eighth certainly shouldn’t hurt the W. Ward-trained gelding.  Gift Exchange is a first timer by Hard Spun drawn on the far outside.  He’ll probably need the race, but the work tab at Fair Hill looks sneaky good, so at 5-1 on the morning line he’s worth tossing in somewhere.  

RACE 2:  Post: 11:05 ET Grade: C+
Main Ticket: 4-Breakwater; 8-Chelonian; 5-St. John’s
Backups/savers: 7-Rakia; 2-Porquerolles.  

Forecast: Breakwater can best be described as a one-paced plodder, but most in this two-turn first level allowance are, too.  He’s a solid fit on numbers, picks up turf master F. Prat, and may be able to tag the speed close home in a wide open guessing game of a race. Chelonian was scratched yesterday and appears to have found a better spot in this moderate affair.  The J. Ness-trained gelding is a first-off-the-claim play for a stable that excels with this angle (33%), so a considerable amount of improvement is more than likely.  The son of Gun Runner should be within striking range throughout.  St. John’s had a couple of runs over the jumps, and neither went well.  Back on the flat last time out, the son of Hard Spun turned in a solid third place finish and if he can turn in two alike he should at least get a piece of it again today.  

RACE 3:  Post: 11:41 ET Grade: B+
Main Ticket: 1-Mirahmadi
Backups/savers: none.

Forecast: Mirahmadi is a maiden in a winner’s race (not sure why) but actually holds a distinct class edge, having finished a close second in the Del Mar Futurity-G1 in his last appearance last September.  The B. Baffert-trained colt trained extremely well at Santa Anita (his home base) before shipping East, and this first time Lasix user will have no difficulty with this group if he runs back to his juvenile form.  At 7/5 on the morning line and likely to go lower, the son of Into Mischief looks very much like a short-priced rolling exotic single.  

RACE 4:  Post: 12:16 ET Grade: B
Main Ticket: 4-Apple Picker; 3-Disco Ebo.

Forecast: Apple Picker exits a pair of much tougher graded stakes – two runs back she won the Barbara Fritchie S.-G3 at Laurel - and is dropped into a listed spot today against a field she should very much beat.  Listed at 7/5 on the morning line, the daughter of Connect has won two of three previous starts at this six furlong distance, so this shortened trip shouldn’t bother her at all.  Disco Ebo is a win machine, having taken half of her 22 career starts with speed figures that compare fairly well with our top pick.  She does her best work on the lead but might have some company early on, and she couldn’t handle our top selection two races back, though at this six furlong distance the veteran mare may put up more resistance.,  

RACE 5:  Post: 12:51 ET Grade: B-
Main Ticket: 6-Barbtourage; 2-Marian Cross (GB).
Backups/savers: 7-Rye Smile; 8-Up for It.

Forecast: Barbtourage stopped to a walk in her recent comeback at Keeneland but she shows a bullet workout since and retains Johnny V., so we’re going to draw a line through that last race and give the daughter of Into Mischief another chance, especially at five furlongs in her first try on grass.  Marian Cross (GB) is back sprinting where she’s probably most comfortable and based on her promising fifth place finish (beaten less than two lengths) in her debut at this trip at Gulfstream Park the G. Motion-trained filly may be the most dangerous of the off-the-pace types.

RACE 6:  Post: 1:28 ET Grade: B
Main Ticket: 6-Frost Free; 1-Mr Skylight; 7-Catahoula Moon.  
Backups/savers: none.  

Forecast: Frost Free couldn’t handle Valentine Candy in the Bachelor S. at Oaklawn Park last month (he earned a career top speed figure in defeat) but few around can cope with that son of Justify’s late kick.  This is an easier spot, so the son of Frosted should be able to return to winning form in this year’s renewal of the Chick Lang S.-G3 for sophomore sprinters.  There are other speed types in this six furlong dash, but on paper he’s the quickest of the quick.  Mr Skylight has gradually improving numbers, and while he’s not as fast as Frost Free quite yet he’s getting close.  With a clean trip from the rail, the son of Practical Joke should be able to make a run for it.  Catahoula Moon, first or second in seven of 11 career starts, is another that needs a slight forward move to challenge our top pick but if there’s a pace meltdown he’s the most likely in the field to benefit.  

RACE 7:  Post: 2:08 ET Grade: B+
Main Ticket: 7-Fluffy Socks
Backups/savers: 3-Blissful; 1-Sweet Dani Girl

Forecast: Fluffy Socks has been facing many of the best older distaff grass runners in North America throughout most of her career and should thoroughly enjoy this class relief with the drop into the Gallorette S.-G3.  She’s a perfect one-for-one over the Pimlico lawn (she won the Selima S. four years ago) and with good racing luck and anything close to her best race the veteran mare should justify her 6/5 morning line price.  

RACE 8:  Post: 4:49 ET Grade: B-
Main ticket: 6-Prince of Jericho; 1-Coastal Mission
Backups/savers: 3-Super Chow.

Forecast: Prince of Jericho dropped a tough photo finish to Coastal Mission in the Frank Whitely S. at Laurel last time out but there is a four pound shift in weights in his favor plus the cozy outside draw while ‘Mission must leave from the rail.  Truthfully, they’re very difficult to separate so rather than split hairs we’ll include both on our ticket.  

RACE 9:  Post: 3:30 ET Grade: B
Main ticket: 10-Abrumar
Backups/savers: 4-Turning Point; 12-Fulmineo.

Forecast: Abrumar was forced to race wide without cover every step of the way when understandably fading off the board in the American Turf S.-G2 two weeks ago at Churchill Downs.  He’s back on short rest, makes a major switch to I. Ortiz, Jr., and should drop over into the second flight, save ground, and then kick home when set down.  He’s won two races while on the pace but we truly believe he’ll be most effective if held up early.  At 5-1 on the morning line, he's a win play and major push in the various exotics.  

RACE 10:  Post: 4:10 ET Grade: B+
Main ticket: 5-Corporate Power
Backups/savers: 8-Tuscan Sky.

Forecast: Corporate Power is improving with each start, as you would expect a son of Curlin to do, and after finishing a strong second in a tough allowance race at Aqueduct in the slop he’ll add blinkers today and should continue to improve with distance, experience, and maturity.  With a win today, he could earn a start in the Belmont Stakes-G1 at Saratoga in three weeks.

RACE 11:  Post: 4:53 ET Grade: B-
Main ticket: 8-Boat’s a Rockin; 2-Carotari; 1-Grooms All Bizness
Backups/savers: 11-Witty; 12-Beer Can Man.

Forecast: Here’s an extremely difficult edition of the Jim McKay Turf Sprint, a wide open grass grab bag in which nothing would surprise.  Best advice is to include as many as your budget allows in rolling exotic play.  Boat’s a Rockin turned in a career best performance when second at 44-1 in the Turf Sprint Championship at Aqueduct in November and makes his first start since with a light work tab that may (or may not) have him totally cranked up.  The veteran gelding has won 11 of 24 career starts, has speed figures that are sufficient, and the style that can be effective on the lead or from a stalking position.  He’s 6-1 on the morning line, and that seems about right.  Carotari (a perfect two-for-two over the Pimlico lawn) and Grooms All Bizness (a mid-pack runner from the rail who should benefit from a ground-saving trip) are two of several others that have a decent look at good prices and are worth including on the main ticket.

RACE 12:  Post: 5:52 ET Grade: B
Main ticket: 5-Running Bee; 10-Emmanuel; 9-Beatbox.
Backups/savers: 3-Balnikhov (Ire).

Forecast: Running Bee is fresh from a confidence building overnight win at Keeneland and moves back into stakes competition in peak form for trainer Chad Brown.  The son of English Channel projects to enjoy an ideal second flight, stalking journey and then have every chance to seal the deal in the final furlong.  It’s a tough, competitive affair but he’s 9/2 on the morning line and that’s a price worth taking if you can get it.  Emmanuel has plenty of back class and was a close third (beaten a half-length) in last year’s edition of this race, the Dinner Party S.-G3, and a repeat of that performance might make him the winner.  Beatbox can really turn it on late, so with some help up front he’ll be quite dangerous in the final furlong.  You can toss out his last race at Fair Grounds; he was very wide throughout without cover and never really had much chance.  

RACE 13:  Post: 7:01 ET Grade: A-
Main ticket: 5-Mystik Dan
Backups/savers: 9-Imagination; 8-Tuscan Gold.  

Forecast: Though he’s never won back-to-back races, and the 14-day turnaround from his Kentucky Derby score is less than ideal, Mystik Dan is the pick, especially if the track turns up wet.  Yes, he benefitted from a ground-saving trip at Churchill Downs but he was the only one among the first seven up front not to wave the white flag when then pressure was turned on at the quarter pole, so we’ll give him full credit for the victory and expect that he’ll come back and do it again.  Drawn beautifully in the four post with three non-speed types inside, the son of Goldencents projects to effortlessly draft into an ideal second flight, ground-saving journey, just as he did in Louisville.  We’re expecting that the end result will be pretty much the same.

RACE 14:  Post: 7:43 ET Grade: B
Main ticket: 2-Sheriff Ronnie
Backups/savers: 5-Frightland; 1-Armando R

Forecast: Sheriff Ronnie has won four of his last five starts from either a pace setting or stalking position, so no matter what the pace flow turns out to be the J. Ness-trained gelding should be able to adapt.  He’s also two-for-three over a wet track, should that come into play.  He’s listed at 4-1 on the morning line but we doubt we’ll get it.