Friday, May 17, 2024

Ponies for Preakness Pick 5

(Updated Saturday 11 a.m. ET for scratches and Pick 5 wagers)

Let's see you say the headline 3x fast...

I had zero success with my Kentucky Derby Pick 5 plays, so I've mapped out Saturday's Pick 5 sequence from Races 9-13, culminating in the Preakness Stakes, and over breakfast at literally the Roadside Diner tapped the minds of fellow cappers Steve and Marie Fitzpatrick to map out combined wagers for the sequence. From our $200 bankroll, below we allocate $173 to Pick 5s; the rest we'll utilize in other situations based on weather conditions as the day progresses.

If playing the undercard, here are some thoughts on Races 9-12.

For now, we'll assume the grass stakes remain on "good" or "yielding" turf. In the event that the first leg shifts to dirt, we'll use #2 Copper Tax, #5 Speedyness and #6 Naptown.

Race 9, James W. Murphy Stakes (3:30 p.m. ET)

A few connections will be doing a rain dance in hopes of this one getting washed off the turf. If that happens, the best is #2 Copper Tax (7-5), who has been crushing foes on the Maryland circuit. Did nothing against the likes of Dornoch and Sierra Leone in the Grade 2 Remsen at Aqueduct in December but deserves a pass vs. Saturday's field, which is way inferior. Use him and elevate #5 Speedyness (10-1), a fellow Maryland-based horse, if in the mud. We'll also use #6 Naptown (8-1) on dirt, citing past races on that and synthetic services and out of respect for trainer Graham Motion. If the race stays on turf as carded, it's a complete crapshoot as about half the field of 12 has never run on grass and the others are not very good. #4 Twirling Point (4-1) was original mine and Fitz's top choice on turf but has been scratched. As a result, we've ID'd #12 Fulmineo (9-2) as top selection along with #7 Crystal Quest (6-1) and will use Naptown and #11 Tocayo (8-1) as "B" selections and #10 Abrumar (5-1) on one ticket.

  • Pick 5 selections: A - 7, 12 | B - 6, 11

Race 10, Sir Barton Stakes (4:10 p.m. ET) 

Unless heavy rains wash races off the turf, this is the first of two dirt races in the sequence, with eight horses slated to run one and one-sixteenth of a mile. The favorites (#5 Corporate Power, 9-5, and #8 Tuscan Sky, 5-2) seemed beatable and, sadly, Tuscan Sky was scratched. Corporate Power wearing blinkers for the first time is peculiar and will be used as a "B" selection. The two I like most are #10 Imperial Gun (7-2) and #4 D Day Sky (15-1). Imperial Gun was aggressively placed in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby and got drifted out badly in the early backstretch by a horse but kept trying and finished 7th to the likes of Muth, Just Steel and Mystik Dan. That level of foes gives him an edge here vs. much softer competition. In the race prior, he lost to Pat Day Mile winner Seize the Gray, so logically he's faced the best foes in this field yet shown a penchant to be one-paced. Joel Rosario returns to ride after guiding Imperial Gun to his maiden victory and  close second in a minor stakes at Oaklawn Park. 

Meanwhile, D Day Sky is worth taking a flier. Switched last race to a new (winning) barn and, though it was against fellow maidens, seemed to mature after about a three-month break and without blinkers a first time. Not incredibly stiff competition but he took decently to the extended 9-furlong distance and his two best (of five) races were at two turns, including a third-place finish vs. Derby entrant and stakes winner Track Phantom in late November. Irad Ortiz rides and is a significant upgrade from the likes of Eddie Perez and Chris Landeros, who rode him before Kendrick Carmouche's expert handling in the maiden score at Aqueduct on April 5. D Day Sky definitely deserves a look.

  • Pick 5 selections: A - 10 | B - 3, 4, 5

Race 11, Jim McKay Turf Sprint (4:53 p.m. ET) 

It's a 12-horse field that I've narrowed to two potential winners and give #11 Witty (9-2) the edge over #12 Beer Can Man (5-2). The latter is a hard-knocking six-year-old that has competed well in numerous graded stakes and takes a big class drop here from the Grade 2 Shakertown at Keeneland in early April in a bid to repeat as Turf Sprint champ. Post 12 shouldn't be a huge detriment to a horse of this caliber in a lesser field. Yet I'm more intrigued by Witty, who won a local stakes in his 2024 debut at Laurel Park and does his best running late, which should be a factor in a race with tons of early speed. 

  • Pick 5 selections: A - 11, 12 | B - 2, 9, 10

Race 12, Dinner Party Stakes (5:52 p.m. ET) 

Major race-day scratch of #10 Emmanuel (5-2) and lacking strong conviction in picking a winner, I'll pick #1 Highland Chief (12-1) as top choice. This 9-furlong turf race has 12 runners and a lot of big, established names yet lacks a pound-the-table bullish favorite. Scratch of #12 Funtastic Again (12-1) is also significant; not a horse I would have played to win but clearly best among the 2-3 frontrunners that included no-chance #8 Helms Deep (50-1). Fitz and I agreed that Highland Chief, a 7-year-old with lots of back class including the Grade 1 Man O'War Stakes at Belmont in May of 2022, has the edge if healthy. He ran 4x after that win but was kept in the barn for about 18 months before surfacing in the Grade 2 Elkhorn at Keeneland last month. Chief got an odd ride from John Velazquez, who strangled his keen horse in the backstretch and made a nice move into the homestretch but flattened as one might expect of a long layoff horse. We agree that the rider change to local jockey and Graham Motion go-to Jorge Ruiz is a potential positive, assuming he lets Highland Chief get into the race earlier. I don't see the distance as a problem and would consider a win wager on this veteran horse. 

  • Pick 5 selections: A - 1, 2, 5 | B - 3, 9

Race 13, Preakness Stakes (7:01 p.m. ET) 

Full horse-by-horse analysis is below, but I'm singling #8 Tuscan Gold (8-1). I'm willing to die on the hill for this one and dislike the other seven, assuming the Derby Day runners will look fatigued and the other new shooters are subpar. Steve's top choice is #3 Catching Freedom (6-1), who makes sense for top connections. Defensively, we used three others in the event we're still alive in the final leg.

  • Pick 5 selections: A - 3, 8 | B - 5, 6, 9

Pick 5 Plays (50-Cent Denominations)

  • 6 7 11 12 | 10 | 11 12 | 1 2 5| 3 5 6 8 9 = $60
  • 7 12 | 3 4 5 | 11 12 | 1 2 5 | 3 8 = $36
  • 7 12 | 10 | 2 9 10 | 1 2 5 | 3 8 = $18
  • 7 12 | 10 | 11 12 | 3 9 | 3 8 = $8
  • 6 11 | 3 4 5 | 11 12 | 1 2 5 | 3 8 = $36
  • 6 7 10 11 12 | 10 | 11 | 3 9 | 5 6 9 = $15
  • If Race 9 goes main track/dirt: 2 5 6 | 10 | 11 12 | 1 2 5 | 3 8 = $18
    • This would replace the first line above

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