05/21/2011 9:20AM

Preakness Day at Pimlico


The conditions at Pimlico on Preakness morning just could not be any better. There isn’t a cloud in the sky, the humidity is low, and there is a gentle breeze out of the north. The track is fast, of course, and this weather should help dry out the turf course to some extent, although it still should have plenty of give to it considering how deep it was Friday.

All the Preakness participants are now on the grounds. Concealed Identity and Norman Asbjornson were vanned over from nearby Bowie Training Center earlier this morning. Oh yeah, a horse named Animal Kingdom was also vanned over earlier this morning from Fair Hill Training Center. Now we can get this party started. Only about 9 hours to Preakness post time.

11:21 - We are only two races into the Preakness card, so keep in mind that the sample size is small. But there doesn't appear to be any bias to the main track. In the opener, an outside pace stalker off a November layoff who might be a nice horse bested the favored inside speed. The second race was won by an in-form, outside closer. The favorite, meanwhile, who was the favorite partly because he was the contolling pace player in a paceless race, threw in the towel in upper stretch. An even track here shouldn't be a surprise, however. Friday's track seemed unbiased.

11:51 - Three races into the card, and Graham Motion, trainer of Kentucky Derby winner and Preakness favorite Animal Kingdom, already has two winners. That short ship from Fair Hill on the morning of is working pretty good so far.

2:21 - Chinglish's upset of the James W. Murphy Stakes shows that closers continue to have their way on the turf here. As for earlier stakes action, Vengeful Wildcat, winner of the Chick Lang, is a talented sprinter, but he does seem a bit reluctant to put away his opposition. Earlier, Life At Ten's dismal third in the Allaire DuPont has folks thinking about an over/under line on how quick the retirement announcement will come.

Latest Preakness odds surprisingly have Animal Kingdom and Dialed In co-favorites at 3-1. Mucho Macho Man is third choice in the betting right now at 9-2.

3:52 - I wouldn't be too, too hard on Shared Account after her inauspicious 2011 bow - a soundly beaten fourth in the Gallorette Handicap -  because while labeled "good," the turf here is slow and demanding, and not the best going for a horse like Shared Account who was coming off a 5 1/2 month layoff. As I noted in yesterday's blog, it will be interesting to see how Paddy O'Prado does in the Dixie later on, although the field lined up against Paddy O'Prado isn't nearly as strong as the opposition Shared Account faced.

Prior to the Gallorette, Ventana survived a surprising challenge from Immortal Eyes and a foul claim by that one's jockey for stretch interfence to take the Maryland Sprint Handicap. In truth, Ventana didn't perform like the Grade 2 stakes horse his past performances said he was. The 20-1 shot Ventana desperately fought off is far more effective at distances shorter than the six furlongs this race required.

At this point, I'm going to step aside and defer to Steven Crist's race by race Preakness Day blog. I'll check back in tomorrow with some day-after-the-Preakness thoughts.