Friday’s Racetrack Super Scout gave us 3 winners in 5 races, with 4 of the 5 false favorites losing. Not a bad job!
Two winners came in at 5-1, and one race saw our top 2 choices fill the $52 exacta (for $1).
Back to Belmont and Churchill, with an in-depth look at the top Preakness contestants.
BELMONT PARK (Saturday, May 21, 2022)
RACE 1. Claiming $12,500. 1 mile. Dirt.
False Favorite: #6 No Burn (1-1).
Reason: He drops from a dominating win at the $35,000 level to $12,500. Something has gone wrong with him. Maybe he’ll eek out a win, but we’ll shoot for an upset.
#1 Flowers for Lisa (5-2). Aside from the favorite, he owns the top 2 recent BRIS speed figs. Sharp current form. Fits at this level and distance.
#5 Invest (8-1). His 2-turn try against second-level allowance horses was ugly. A return to claimers will help. Recent work was above average.
RACE 6. Claiming $30,000 N2L. 6 Furlongs. Turf. (Analysis for turf only.)
False Favorite: #9 Cable Channel (6-5).
Reason: He drops into a claimer after 10 uncompetitive allowance tries. His most recent try, which came against one of the weakest fields on his record, was one of his worst. The layoff signals other possible problems. The trainer owns a poor record off this type of layoff, and the purse level probably doesn’t provide the class relief he needs.
#2 Sutton Valley (12-1). He goes dirt to turf for a trainer with a long history of turf success on the mid-Atlantic circuit. He also returns to claimers off a decent allowance try and sharp works.
#3 Box of Joe (8-1). He comes off a win in his first turf try and owns one of the top BRIS figures on grass among the contestants.
Alternative in case of scratch: #5 Storm Shooter (9-2).
CHURCHILL DOWNS (Saturday, May 21, 2022)
We see legitimate favorites in all races. We expect favorites to win about 6 of the first 10 races on the card. Our advice is to avoid Churchill’s racing on Saturday.
BONUS RACE. THE PREAKNESS.
PIMLICO. RACE 13. GRADE 1.
No False Favorite here, just a slightly vulnerable one.
Epicenter (6-5). We’ve been on his bandwagon a long time, but we’re jumping off here. He enters the race in fine form and proven as one of the top 3-year-olds this year. However, Epicenter has run :47.0 or faster to the 4-furlong mark twice, and twice he was nailed by a longshot at the wire.
We expect his handlers to shoot for a patient ride, not just stalking but also waiting a beat or two longer to ask Epicenter for his move. Adding to Epicenter’s challenge is the fact that he has never had to chase down (or outduel) a Grade 1 speedster.
In short, we see Epicenter stuck between a rock and a hard place. If he duels, he becomes vulnerable to a late runner. If he sits back, he gives Early Voting a midrace breather and a head-start turning for home.
Early Voting (7-2). A patient approach by Epicenter, which is what we expect to see, will leave Early Voting as either the lone speed or controlling speed. The two other early runners, Fenwick and Armagnac, were left in the dust in their graded stakes tries. They present no challenge for Early Voting, who carved out above-average fractions in the Wood Memorial.
Although Early Voting tired in the Wood, it was his first race in about 2 months. Trainer Chad Brown always saw him as a late bloomer, so his Plan A was likey to use the Wood as a prep for the Preakness (unless he won the Wood or the Derby pace came up soft).
If Early Voting is a Grade 1 horse, he won’t surrender an early advantage again. He’s more mature and fit than 6 weeks ago. Add a pace advantage to that, and we’ll take him at 7-2 over the favorite.
Creative Minister (10-1). He put up a superb winning time last time out in only his third lifetime start. We see the101 BRIS speed rating as legit and likely to increase…maybe even by a lot today. He’s likely the best of the late runners and will benefit if the pace heats up more than we think it will.