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Andrew Champagne gives us his picks and analysis from Saturday's other races at Pimlico

Pimlico Horse Racing Picks

My column analyzing the Preakness Day program is going to be a bit different. I’ve already previewed the all-stakes late Pick Four at Pimlico on my show, “Champagne and J.D.,” and I want to make sure I’m giving you unique content in this space. As such, I’ll be outlining several spot plays for the day, ones that may help you make some money leading up to the second leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown (which I’ve previewed elsewhere on the site)R. Let’s dive in!

Preakness Day Picks


We’ll start right away, in the Sir Barton Stakes for 3-year-olds. Bob Baffert trains the 2/5 morning line favorite, #4 HOZIER, and that’s just way too short a price to take on a horse whose claim to fame is a clunk-up second behind Concert Tour two starts ago.

I’ll try to beat him with #1 THE KING CHEEK, who tries two turns for the first time in this spot. In some instances, that would be a red flag, but he’s got some two-turn breeding to him and he’s also the main speed in the race. Pimlico’s main track played pretty kindly to front-runners on Friday, and trainer Jamie Ness has enjoyed great success with similar stretch-outs in the recent past. At his likely price, I’ll give him a shot and hope he gets comfortable on the front end.


This optional claiming event is a fun betting race, and your guess is as good as mine with regard to which runner will go favored. #10 MISCHIEF AFOOT is the lukewarm morning line choice, and he ran fairly well last time out, but he’s a bit too pace-dependent for my liking and his barn is ice-cold to start the year.

I prefer the runner to that one’s inside. #9 HANALEI’S HOUDINI hasn’t won in a while, but ran very well when second at this level last time out. He got to the front late, but was outfinished, and I think the slight cutback in distance should help him. He’s got some tactical speed and could get an ideal trip just off the pace. He’s 9/2 on the morning line, and I hope that price holds up.


I’m taking a shot in the James Murphy Stakes, as I’m going against 7/5 morning line choice #2 OUTADORE. Yes, that one has plenty of early zip, but there are others in here that will almost certainly want to be on or near the lead.

With that in mind, I want a closer, and I think #7 CHARLES CHROME is a must-use. He did very little wrong in three starts last season, when he won twice and finished second behind next-out stakes-winner Beer Can Man. Those races all came going one turn, but he’s bred up and down to want to go long, and he’s shown he can rate off the pace. Those tactics should help him here, and I think he’ll have every chance to come running late at a price.

RACE #11

A fun field has assembled for the Grade 3 Maryland Sprint, one that’s comprised of 11 runners (many of whom have tangled in the past). #5 STRIKE POWER isn’t a bad favorite, and I wouldn’t be stunned if he ran well, but I prefer a slightly bigger price on top.

#8 SPECIAL RESERVE was claimed by Mike Maker back in February. Since then, he won an optional claiming race at Oaklawn and ran a gutsy second behind Flagstaff in the Grade 3 Commonwealth at Keeneland. Flagstaff came right back to win the Grade 1 Churchill Downs a few weeks ago, and a repeat effort from Special Reserve would make him a handful here.

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Article Author

Horse Racing

Andrew Champagne is a horse racing handicapper with a specialism in juveniles. One thing is for certain, Champagne gets the party started.


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