05/16/2009 11:12AM

Preakness Day Live


11:12 am: Wake up already. They've been racing at Pimlico for almost an hour. Only 11 races left to go.

Fast and firm so far, though it's misting now and the forecast is for possible "isolated" thunderstorms later this afternoon. Third choice Scotchontherocks ($11.60) took the opener box to wire in 1:11.69. The second, the G2 DuPont Distaff, had a field of just five after the scratches of Sea Chanter and Striking Tomisue (who were cross-entered in the G2 Shuvee at Belmont later today). That left it a cakewalk for Skylighter ($2.80), who strolled to the lead with a first quarter in 25.37 seconds and led all the way to win by 4 1/4 lengths.

With no pick-4 starting until the 5th race, I've been reduced to playing the race 2-3-4 pick-3 for $104 worth of wake-up action. I managed to smoke out Skylighter as a single:

1/2,3,5,10/2,3,5,6 @ $4 = $64

1/all/2,3,5,6 @ $1 = $40

I know, I know, it's a terrible little play. Need more coffee.

11:35 am: 13-1 firster Old Timer won the 3rd, a maiden turf race that Pimlico grandiosely billed on its signal as the "15th running of the Maryland Heritage Purse." How terrible was that pick-3 play? I'm alive to lose $20 on the #3, make $30 on the #2 and #6 (less than I would have gotten by betting the $104 to win on Skylighter at 2-5), and make $261 on #5. Let's go 5.

The first of the day's two pick-fours starts on the 5th race. Here's my ABC thinking before fine-tuning:

12:40 pm: Didn't see No Advantage ($28.40) in the G3 Schaefer, which he won by 2 3/4 lengths over dead-heaters Ea (9-5) and Real Merchant (4-1). So long $104. And so long to most of the $405 early pick-4 play, after 19-1 Motown Shuffle just won the first leg as a C with me, leaving me alive only 3x1x5 with A's the rest of the way: 3,9,11/8/1,2,3,7,9.

Allow me to share the incisive handicapping approach that led me to include Motown Shuffle: On the first pass, I had two A's, two B's, five C's and two x's. Realizing I had no conviction whatsoever, and that it would only cost another $30 to add the two x's, I upgraded my 10th and 11th choices in the field of 11 from c's to x's.

Yesterday at Pimlico: all 13 winners paid less than 4-1. Today: Four of the first five winners were more than 4-1, the last three at 13-1 or better.

Betting through the first four races totalled $3.06 million, down 7 percent from last year's $3.29 million at the same point, but pretty much even without the parimutuelly-disastrous five-horse DuPont. Here's the pool-by-pool comparison, which I'll keep at the end of this post. The biggest gainer was that first pick-3 which, perhaps aided by itchy pick-4 players like me, jumped from $79k to $113k.

1:20 pm: The 6th race, a starter-allowance for horses who have raced for a $15k tag in the last two years, is run as the Deputed Testamony Starter Stakes, and the victorious Sumacha'hot ($7.00) has a connection to the race's namesake, who won the 1983 Preakness. Deputed Testamony was bred and raised by the Boniface family's local Bonita Farm and so was Sumacha'hot -- who was claimed away for $5,000 by owner-trainer Hubert Cave last fall.

2:00 pm: Ooof. Dynaforce and my pick-4's were done turning for home, as Social Queen ($20.20) got up at the wire to nip 2-1 All is Vanity in the G3 Gallorette. No idea why the first two finishers were so far apart in price.

Next up is the G3 Hirsch Jacobs for 3-year-old sprinters, then a scheduled gap of over an hour until the late pick-4 ending with the Preakness starts with the Woodlawn at 3:44 pm. Here's the preliminary thinking:

2:45 pm: Everyday Heroes ($16.40) remained undefeated in four starts winning the Hirsch Jacobs to complete a $34,622.80 (for $2) pick-4. Rats.(Though I would have had to make a hardcore caveman 11x6x4x5 for $1320 to get the $17k.)

The pool had been guaranteed at $250k but attracted $466,330, up from $339k on last year's early pick-4, which started one race earlier.

Through the first eight races, betting is up 3.5 % from last year, at $11.9 vs. $11.5 million.

3:50 pm: Affirmatif got the job done at 2-5 in the Woodlawn Stakes but it wasn't exactly a dazzling performance, and the 3-year-old turfer hasn't looked as impressive in his last two starts as he did in his sensational Gulfstream debut. Despite a golden trip sitting third behind a strong pace, he showed only a brief turn of foot taking over in upper stretch and finished up with a moderate final quarter of 25.39. The runner-up, 34-1 Lonely Whistle, is a New York-bred who broke his maiden for $9k two starts back.

In any case, it's going to be hard to get this late pick-4 to pay $34k.

4:40 pm: Spent most of the G3 Maryland Sprint Handicap wondering why John Velazquez on Ravalo was sitting off Grand Traverse's slow pace instead of challenging him for the lead, but I guess he knew what he was doing. Ravalo took over in upper stretch and then had just enough left to turn back a resurgent Silver edition to win. The winner's time of 1:09.95 was somewhat hampered by the pace but still made Everyday Heroes's 1:09.51 look pretty good by comparison.

I've reached that point in the day where the odds are making no sense to me at all. With 8 minutes to post in In the Maryland Sprint, Sporty Boy, 30-1 on the morning line and 100-1 on mine, was only 12-1 -- this for a loser of five straight against $25k claimers, and without a line in his 24-race career suggesting he could be competitive in a graded stakes race. He finally drifted to 22-1 by post time and ran 5th, but it's still a puzzlement.

So are the current odds on my three A's in the Dixie -- Strike a Deal at 7-1, Just as Well at 9-1 and Lauro at 21-1 -- so I guess I better go get myself into some more trouble.

For three straight races now, the year-over-year betting is down sharply in all the intrarace pools but up sharply in the multirace pools.

5:30 pm: Thanks to Just as well getting second and Lauro desperately holding fourth, caught a buck of the Dixie super to pay for what's surely going to be a net loss on this chalk-chalk-chalk-Preakness pick-4. Parading ($6.60) successfully moved back from synth to turf and it's nice to see a 6-year-old who's had his problems having been given every chance to mature and blossom.

With $10 million already in the Preakness win pool, it looks like the bettors are repeating the post-Giacomo stress disorder of 2005 and refusing to let anyone in the field go off at a big price. Nobody's higher than 23-1 yet and a the three 50-1 shots on the morning line are currently 19-1, 19-1 and 20-1.

The pick-4 probables for $1: Big Drama ($170.80), Mine That Bird ($245), Musket Man ($195), Luv Gov ($3223.20), Friesan Fire ($178.70), Terrain ($979.70), Papa Clem ($265.10), General Quarters ($497.50), Pioneerof the Nile ($149.70), Flying Private ($3303.40), Take the Points ($584.20), Tone It Down ($3276.10), Rachel Alexandra ($65.10).

6:00 pm: There's already over $18 million in the win-place-show pools for the Preakness, compared to $14.3 million last year (when Big Brown was 1-to-5). Makes you wonder how much those missing infield revelers ever really bet.

7:00 pm: Good for her and good for him. Rachel Alexandra and Mine That Bird made the unprecedented Preakness showdown between an Oaks and Derby winner live up to and exceed all expectations with a pair of excellent performances and a clean, straightforward horse race.

I'm usually cranky about so-called feelgood stories, but it's hard not to feel good about this one. Rachel Alexandra is obviously something special, and she got the historic job done over a likeable gelding who vindicated his shocking Derby victory with another strong effort. If it weren't for the filly he'd be racing for a Triple Crown in three weeks. And good for Musket Man too. He shows up every time and ran another solid race.

Rcahel Alexandra paid $5.60, more than I expected but precisely the price predicted by DRF linemaker Mike Watchmaker, in a race where the public sent it in with gusto, betting $23 million in the straight pools vs. $14.3 million last year. The pick-4 ending with the Preakness handled $1.99 million vs. $1.39 million last year. In total, the Preakness Day handle was up a rousing 19 percent from last year, from $71.1 million to $84.3 million. 

They hoped to see something special, and historic, and they did.  

Unitas More than 1 year ago
To Dan C., I highly doubt that anyone, and that is including the money is not an issue Dubai Sheiks, are interested in purchasing Mine That Bird, for the simple reason being that he is a gelding. The Godolphin and Darley operations desperatley want to win the Kentucky Derby, and obviously it is a little late for that with MTB, and with MTB being altered, there is no chance for a MTB baby to make a run for the roses. However, a half brother to MTB who was recently aquired by Dogwood Farms may find some serious offers coming their way by the Dubai connections to obtain this well bred runner.
Joe S. More than 1 year ago
What's the mathematics for exacta proportionality? Derby superfecta was $$$half-a-million$$$, Derby exacta $2075.00. Please illuminate. Also, Watchmaker wrote that Pioneer of the Nile ought to have been DQ'd, claiming he fouled Papa Clem but also, more important, Musket Man. What was your view - ought there have been a DQ? Hypothetically, how would the resultant 16-1 shot coupled with the 50-1 shot have increased the exacta using your mathematics??
prizboy More than 1 year ago
Steve, Here is a situation I wonder if you can help me with. On Wednesday May 20, 2009 the Second Race at Penn National was run and declared official. There was an approximate 30 min delay during which signs were posted that prices would be posted shortly. All of a sudden the numbers were taken off the board and the race was declared "unbettable" and full refunds were issued for all wagers. I was wondering if you or someone at the racing forum could get to the bottom of this because I have never seen this before. How can a race be declared official and then all of a sudden be a no contest. I called PNRC office and no explination was given. Let me know if you are interested in this or can help some of us that did bet and win on this race only to have monies refunded. Until a suitable explaination is given i propose to all who reads this to boycott Penn National and all Penn National properties. It is inexcuseable to post a race official and then declare it unwagering. Thanks, Priz
Barry More than 1 year ago
Hey Steve, sorry to change the subject but I guess I missed something : No 2 year old stakes races at Belmont this spring?
Don Reed More than 1 year ago
Not all of my 05/15/09 predictions - "Race Day [05/16/09] Conditions: Overreaching; The Requiem; & Confusion" - Failed, I've just found out, although the news just received had nothing to do with the Preakness. See the news about the past-posting betting fiasco, Los Angeles Handicap, at Hollywood Park, on Preakness Day (05/16/09). Supposedly, all bets on the race from the simulcasting centers where past-posting had been possible were cancelled. How do you prove or disprove that "100% cancellations and refunds" is a fact?
Eddie Walker More than 1 year ago
Tom D: I'm with you. The rowdy infield crowd at Pimlico wasn't missed. College kids who have zero interest in the races, but plenty of interest in fighting, stripping and drinking beers are the type of "customers" no establishment needs. Good for Pimlico for ridding themselves of this annual headache.
Keith Longey More than 1 year ago
Diceman: I was on Capt. Candyman Can early as a Triple Crown threat, as well as Imperial Council. Alas, their connections decided they were shorter race future horses, and that is what Fawkes has decided for Big Drama. Too, examine his running lines while Coa was up, at the half in those two races he was either on the lead, or 1/2 length off the lead, soon to take the lead. The horse just wants to boogie! Now add to the factors above his lack of conditioning in 3 yo season (too fresh), and the fact that he is speed favoring Calder based, and that tells the story of the horse. Thankfully, Fawkes isn't going to the Belmont with this one.
peewee More than 1 year ago
Steve, any ontrack handle figures to compare with the 08 figures ? TVG and youbet were excluded last year as well so what were the 2007 figures, to use as a barometer of wagering dollars
Tom D. More than 1 year ago
I went to the Big Brown Preakness. When the infield let out it was chaos. Drunken sunburned knuckleheads vomiting, fighting, and urinating anywhere they could. Pimlico is being judged harshly but the antics of the crowd really have left them no choice.
Wayne80 More than 1 year ago
I hope Mythical Power decides to jet east for The Belmont, the Sunland Derby runner up and Lone Star Derby winner would add significant intrigue. I never thought I would see the day I would even care about a runner in the those races, but the times they are a changin'. The Sunland Derby may be the top Western Kentucky Derby prep going forward as the only Graded race on dirt in the West.