05/20/2016 6:27PM

Cristblog: Preakness Day Live Blog


Saturday, 7:10 pm -- Exaggerator ($7.20) stayed closer to the pace than usual, made a run to power past 3-5 Nyquist in upper stretch, and drew clear to win the Preakness. Cherry Wine was up for second at 17-1, with Nyquist third and 8-1 Stradivari fourth.

It was Nyquist's first defeat in nine starts and Exaggerator's first time finishing in front of him in five career tries.

Exaggerator's camp immediately said the Curlin colt will go on to the Belmont, while the Nyquist team sounded uncertain. While many will consider thedemise of a Triple Crown bid to be a sad thing, the outcome may be a positive one for the rest of the racing season and fans can only hope the two will run against each other again in the coming months.

Exaggerator completed a pick-5 paying $1,642.20 for $2, a $2 pick-4 returning a spooky-looking $666.60, and a Rainbow-6 with multiple winners paying $197.06 for 20 cents.

Exaggerator, sold for $110,000 as a yearling to owner Matt Bryan's Big Chief Racing LLC, has now won 5 of 11 career starts. His victories include the G3 Delta Jackpot, the G2 Saratoga Special and the G1 Santa Anita Derby.

That was a highly entertaining, if not highly profitable, two days of racing. See you here in three weeks for the Belmont.

Saturday, 5:50 pm -- Takeover Target rallied from last place to catch Grade 1 winners Ring Weekend and Grand Arch and win the G2 Dixie.

Takeover Target, a 4-year-old Harlan's Holiday colt owned by Klaravich/Lawrence and trained by Chad Brown, won the G2 Hall of Fame and G3 Hill Prince last year, and now looks ready to join the top flight of older American grass runners.

Ring Weekend, making his first start in 14 months, announced he is back in a big way with what looked like a winning effort until the final strides.

Now that there's representative real money in the Preakness win pool, Staradivari is back to where he was supposed to be as the 8-1 third choice. Nyquist is 3-5 and Exaggerator is 5-2.

Here are the multirace willpays ending with the Preakness:

Saturday, 4:55 pm -- American Freedom ($4.60), a huge disappointment when sixth as the Pat Day Mile favorite on Derby Day, redeemed himself with a gritty victory over 9-1 Voluntario to win the Sir Barton Stakes for 3-year-olds.

American Freedom dueled with 7-1 Donegal Moon from the start to upper stretch, when Voluntario slipped inside the leaders and looked like he was going to go past them. American Freedom fought back and turned away the challenge.

American Freedom, a Pulpit colt who sold for $500,000 as a yearling to Gary and Mary West and is trained by Bob Baffert.

Saturday, 4:20 pm -- Mizz Money ($11.80) won a driving three-filly photo over 76-1 Vielsalm and 9-2 Heath to win the G3 Gallorette for older turf fillies.

In answer to your next two questions: Yes, I would have preferred a B at 76-1 to an A at 9-2 for pick-5/pick-4 purposes. And no, I did not play the $770/$2 exacta or bet Vielsalm to place ($51.20).

Mizz Money was coming off a freshening following two good-figure outings at the Fair Grounds. She pressed Josdesanimaux early, looked like she was going to be swallowed by the closers in deep stretch, but fought back and was best under Javier Castellano. Unfortunately.

Mizz Money, a 4-year-old Mizzen Mast filly, is trained by Bernie Flint.

NBC just announced on-air that it will be covering the Royal Ascot meet in 2017. No word yet on how many days or how much coverage.

Saturday, 4 pm -- I hate it when NBC tries to dazzle us with silly math. The network just posited that because it's been nine years since we had an undefeated Derby winner (Big Brown), and that there have been about 224,000 foals since then, the odds against having another one was 224,000 to 1.

Here's another way to look at it: There is a 100 percent chance someone will win the Kentucky Derby every year. One of the eight winners before this year was undefeated. That sounds more like 7-to-1 than 224,000-to-1.

Saturday, 3:40 pm -- Justin Squared quickly recovered from an awkward start and led all the way thereafter to win the $100k Chick Lang. Counterforce finished well from last place to be up for second, with 45-1 Formal Summation third and plenty of trouble behind> Louie D. came over on the turn and bothered Never Gone South and Discreet Angel. He was disqualified from fourth and placed last.

Justin Squared, a Zensational colt owned by Zayat Stables and trained by Bob Baffert, ran the six furlongs in 1:11.41. He is now unbeaten in three starts and probably will make his next start in the Woody Stephens on the Belmont Stakes undercard June 11.

A seemingly wide-open G3 Gallorette is up next, and it's the first leg of a $2 million guaranteed pick-4 pool. Tiger Ride, scratched from yesterday's DuPont to run here, has opened the 9-5 favorite.

Saturday, 3:10 pm -- Lady Shipman ($2.80), the nation's best filly turf sprinter, rolled to her 11th victory in 16 career starts with a comfortable score in the The Very One.

The 4-year-old Midshipman filly, developed by Kathleen O'Connell and now trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, is best known for finishing second by a neck against males in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint last fall. That made her a finalist for a filly-sprinter Eclipse Award where she ran third to the dirt sprinters La Verdad and Wavell Avenue.

Today she ran the 5 1/2 furlongs in 57.85 under Joel Rosario. Joya Real was up for second at 13-1 with 9-2 second choice Exaggerated third in a field of 12.

Saturday, 2:45 pm: Here's my pick-5 play. The pool is guaranteed at $1 million and starts with the Chick Lang, scheduled to go off at 3:27 pm.

Saturday, 2:20 pm -- Chief Istan ($3.00), off 13 months since hanging up a Beyer Speed Figure of 101 in his second career start, returned to the winner's circle with an easy victory in the 7th, an N2x allowance. He completed the 6f in 1:11.51 under Florent Geroux.

The 4-year-old Istan colt, owned by Sagamore Farm and Breton Jones and trained by Larry Jones, cahsed Gambler's Ghost from the outset, collared him at the quarter pole, and drew well clear despite drifting in and out through the stretch.\

Television coverage on NBC Sports Network starts at 2:30, with Papa NBC taking over at 5 p.m.

Stradivari remains the Preakness favorite due to that one outsized bet into a small pool. There is under $2 million wagered to win, place or show so far. Last year's final WPS pool was over $19 million. In the Black-Eyed Susan/Preakness daily-double willpays, Nyquist is the equivalent of odds-on at $12.20, followed by Exaggerator at $20.80 with Stradivari a distant third choice at $54.60.

Next up is The Very One, where Eclipse finalist Lady Shipman has opened the 3-5 favorite.

Saturday, 1:45 pm -- Marengo Road ($33.80) made his first grass race in his last seven starts a winning one, taking the J.W. Murphy over fast-closing 5-2 favorite Aquaphobia. Conquest Windycity was third at 7-2. The winner, wearing the maroon and grey silks of the Meyerhoff family, who raced Spectacular Bid, is a 3-year-old Quality Road colt trained by Michael Trombetta.

The victory by the 7th choice in a field nine led to $2 payoffs of $23,547.40 in the early pick-5 and $3,953.40 in the early pick-4. The Murphy also began the second of three pick-4's on the card.

Saturday, 1 pm -- The day's first stakes race went to Always Sunshine ($5.80), a 4-year-old West Acre colt who scored by daylight in the G3 Maryland Sprint. He was followed to the wire by longshots 15-1 All Star Red, 54-1 Rockinn On Bye and 21-1 Sonny Inspired.

Salutos Amigos, the 6-5 favorite rallied only mildly late and came out on the wrong end of a three-way photo for third. Cinco Charlie, the 2-1 third choice, appeared to make an easy lead through tepid fractions of 23.54 and 46.75 but was done bythe furlong pole and finished 6th.

Always Sunshine, onwed by Stonehedge LLC and trained by Ned Allard, ran the six furlongs under Frankie Pennington in 1:10.46. The track was upgraded from sloppy to muddy for the 3rd race.

Here are the willpays for the pick-4 and pick-5 ending with the 6th race, the James W. Murphy for 3-year-olds on the grass:

Those payoffs exceed what you would expect following winners in races 2-5 who paid $8.20, $14.20, $4.80 and $5.80. Good Luck Gus burned a whole lot of money.

Saturday, 12:30 pm -- A reported $80,000 win bet on Stradavari placed at Laurel has completely upended the odds for the Preakness. Stradivari, the 7-1/8-1 third choice since betting opened, plummeted to 3-to-5, driving Nyquist from 4-5 to 5-2 and Exaggerator from 9-5 to 9-2.

The pool so far may well represent only Maryland betting. By post time, that $80k will be heavily diluted as handle increases and especially when simulcast money from outside Maryland pours in later in the day. I guess the bettor's theory is that it's better to place the bet now and drive everyone else away from taking a short price on an 8-1 shot.

The 4th race was another chalky grass race, with Truly Together scoring at 7-5 over 7-2 Evidently. The winner is a 4-year-old Augustin homebred by Smart Strike and the champion turf mare Forever Together. The race was marred by the fatal breakdown of Pramedya, a Lael Stables homebred.

Saturday, 12:15 pm: File the 3rd at Pimlico under No Sure Things.

The race, an N1x allowance for older males, appeared a massive mismatch on paper for Good Luck Gus. His connections were quite clever to find that the fine print in the conditions for the race excluded any "State Bred" victories from eligibility considerations, a provision deisgned for Maryland-breds at Pimlico. Those conditions, however, allowed Good Luck Gus in despite five career victories, because they all came in New York-bred races, including the $252k NY Breeders' Futurity and the $250k Albany.

The four-time stakes-winner looked like a cinch dropping in against a lot of 1-for-lifers, and was sent off at 1-to-5. Unfortunately for those who tried to take the free bingo square, he got going too late and failed to catch 6-1 Cat Fiftyfive down the stretch.

Saturday, 11:45 am -- It's not raining at Pimlico right now, but it did this morning and is likely to start again around 4:30. The Preakness field is intact, but there are 18 scratches so far, including these in the pick-5 sequence ending in the Preakness: Quijote from the Chick Lang; Camille Claudel from the Gallorette; Lazarus Project, I Came to Party, Gone Local and Gettysburg from the Sir Barton; Long on Value, Force the Pass, Take the Stand and Cage Fighter from the Dixie.

The racing began at 10:30 on a sealed sloppy surface. It turned sour quickly when the first-race winner, Homeboykris, collapsed and died on his way back to the barn. The 9-year-old gelding won the 2009 Champagne Stakes but more recently was keeping company with $5k claimers.

The 2nd race, the first of seven carded turf races that are all still scheduled for a grass course labelled "good," was formful enough: The three favorites led the order of finish, and the fractions were 24.02, 49.52, 1:14.21 en route to a final time of 1:46.04.

Here's the multirace exotic schedule:


Friday, 7 pm -- Click HERE if you're looking for the Black-Eyed Susan Day liveblog and preview, or keep reading if you're looking at Saturday's Preakness pick-5, which consists of the Chick Lang, G3 Gallorette, Sir Barton, G2 Dixie and the Preakness.

Even if you're planning to use just Nyquist or just Exaggerator or just both in the final leg, it doesn't look easy getting there with big fields, few standouts, and a threat of rain that could turn the main track to slop and the turf to mush. Rain or shine, the pick-5 pool is guaranteed at $1 million and scheduled to begin with the 9th race at 3:27 pm ET.

The key race in the sequence could turn out to be the same one that proved so tough in the Derby-Day equivalent: a third leg of a 3-year-old stakes (the Pat Day on Derby Day, the Sir Barton here) in which American Freedom is the favorite. I thought he was a play-against in the Pat Day stretching out to a mile after a big win in the slop in his debut. He didn't break and didn't do much running thereafter, ending up 6th behind Sharp Azteca (who I couldn't come up with.)

Now he'll be favored again despite trying two turns and a mile and a sixteenth -- and even more heavily if the track has gotten soupy by then. I'll include him but plan to remain skeptical and go fairly deep in search of a better price.

American Freedom is trained by Bob Baffert, who also sends out Justin Squared, the 9-5 ML favorite in the opening leg, the Chick Lang stakes at 6f for 3-year-olds. He'll probably be overbet and I'm planning to go deep in the race, but he has to be included for his blazing speed from the rail.

Below are my horse-by-horse rundowns for the five races, including each entrant's morning-line odds, last-out Speed Figure, career-best BSF on today's footing (dirt or turf), highest winning level, and a comment on each: