UPDATED to reflect scratches — While the Black-Eyed Susan is a very nice race, the Pimlico Special — one of the greatest names in the American turf — came up more like the Pimlico Sort-Of Special, and that was before the announcement that Stanford will scratch. Here are stakes picks for Friday’s Preakness Stakes-eve card.
Race 3 | Skipat Stakes | 6 furlongs
1. Fantastic Style
2. Raging Smoke
3. Sweet on Smokey
4. Disco Chick
Comment: Fantastic Style towers above this field as a multiple graded stakes winner. Raging Smoke, if she goes off at her 20-1 morning line odds (which I doubt), offers value in the exacta.
Race 7 | Grade III Pimlico Special Handicap | 1 3/16 miles
2. Noble Bird
3. Savoy Stomp
4. Golden Glint
Comment: Page McKenney was the pick even if Stanford had stayed in the race. Then Page McKenney scratched too. Ugh. Hesinfront might be in the right spot here at a little bit of a price. Noble Bird is a Grade I winner and will figure in this if he rebounds from his Alysheba disappointment.
Race 8 | Jim McKay Turf Sprint Stakes | 5 furlongs turf
1. Rocket Heat
2. Ben’s Cat
3. Rapid Dan
4. Night Officer
Comment: Ben’s Cat is the sentimental pick but Rocket Heat looks poised here after showing at Churchill that he’s fast, very fast. Five furlongs is a better distance for him than the 5 1/2 at Keeneland (that sixteenth of a mile in grass sprints is,, to me, as great as the difference between 7 and 9 furlongs). Rapid Dan also might benefit from the cutback in a sixteenth of a mile.
Race 9 | Grade III Allaire DuPont Distaff Stakes | 1 1/8 miles
1. Mei Ling
2. Savings Account
3. Super Majesty
4. Ahh Chocolate
Comment: Mei Ling could win with a repeat of her Top Flight performance.
Race 10 | Hilltop Stakes | 1 1/16 miles turf
3. Miss Katie Mae
4. Thundering Sky
Comment: Spinamiss doesn’t have to face Catch a Glimpse this time and looms large. Morethanjusthello is working well and could pull off the upset at a price if she can overcome the outside post. Miss Katie Mae should improve in her second U.S. start.
Race 11 | Grade II Black-Eyed Susan Stakes | 1 1/8 miles
1. Land Over Sea
2. She’s a Warrior
3. Dothraki Queen
4. Go Maggie Go
Comment: Land Over Sea was second-best the Longines Kentucky Oaks and looks best. She’s a Warrior had a troubled trip finishing third behind Songbird in the Santa Anita Oaks and finished third behind that one and Land Over Sea in the Las Virgenes. Dothraki Queen returns to dirt after being an also-eligible scratch from the Ky. Oaks and would be no surprise to hit the board at a price.
Race 13 | Grade III Adena Springs Miss Preakness | 6 furlongs
1. Moment is Right
2. Lost Raven
3. R Girls a Charmer
4. She’s All Ready
Comment: Respect Simon Callaghan shipping for this one, and she should improve in her second of the year. Lost Raven can add to Uncle Mo’s honor roll with a repeat of her showing in the Cicada. R Girls a Charmer gets a shorter distance and has been working well.