Unlike the Kentucky Derby, this field has a few front-running horses, which should prevent Authentic from wiring. Swiss Skydiver, a fill...
Unlike the Kentucky Derby, this field has a few front-running horses, which should prevent Authentic from wiring. Swiss Skydiver, a filly, and Ny Traffic will be up near the rail early, looking to set the pace. Right behind them should be the second flight of horses, featuring Art Collector, Liveyourbeastlife, Pneumatic, Jesus’ Team and Thousand Words. Excession, Max Player and Mr. Big News will make their moves from further back.
A contested pace should make it difficult for Authentic to capture another leg of the Triple Crown. Swiss Skydiver and Ny Traffic could also be used up by the far turn.
Instead, look toward that second flight of horses to produce the winner. And of that group, only Art Collector has routinely faced classy fields and gone on to victory. For example, he won the Blue Grass Stakes by 3½ lengths despite a faster-than-average pace, producing a faster-than-average final speed figure. And he drew away from the pack by 6½ lengths in the optional claiming race he ran in May at Churchill Downs, a race that was given the same race rating by Brisnet as the Blue Grass (118). (Brisnet’s race ratings measure the overall quality of horses that competed. The higher the number, the tougher the competition.)
Art Collector has the speed and class, plus a favorable projected pace scenario, to take the final leg of the Triple Crown on Saturday.
Here are win selections for the other graded stakes race Saturday at Pimlico.
Gallorette Stakes (Grade III)
2nd race at Pimlico, 1 1/16 miles on turf
Pick: No. 1 Juliet Foxtrot, 7-5 on the morning line
Trainer Brad Cox has not seen his mare win since the Modesty Handicap at Arlington in July 2019 (6-0-2-2 since), but this field is short on class and speed, giving Juliet Foxtrot a chance to wire the field from the rail. Plus, Cox and jockey Florent Geroux are winning 24 percent of their entries as a duo over the past 60 days, throwing off a 12-cent profit for every $2 wagered.
Miss Preakness Stakes (Grade III)
5th race at Pimlico, six furlongs on dirt
Pick: No. 3 Fly On Angel, 8-1 on the morning line
Discounting a horse put up for claim a few months before a graded-stakes event is standard practice, yet Fly On Angel held on to the lead in the Grade III Charles Town Oaks on Aug. 28 despite a fast pace and below-par final speed figure. She also produced a new pace top (her fastest time to the half-mile mark), indicating she may have another strong effort in the not-too-distant future.
Dinner Party Stakes (Grade II)
6th race at Pimlico, 1 1/16 miles on turf
Pick: No. 7 Factor This, 1-1 on the morning line
Don’t overthink this one. Factor This has more wins in 2020 (four) than the rest of the field combined (three wins from the other six horses). Two of his wins were in graded-stakes races with a final speed figure at or above par: the Grade II Muniz Memorial Classic Stakes at Fair Grounds in March and the Grade II Wise Dan Stakes at Churchill Downs in June. He also just missed the winner’s circle in the Grade I Turf Classic Stakes at Churchill Downs in September, losing by three-quarters of a length.
De Francis Memorial Dash (Grade III)
7th race at Pimlico, six furlongs on dirt
Pick: No. 1 Admiral Lynch, 7-2 on the morning line
This field is littered with black type and listed stakes winners but no one with any gravitas, let alone a graded-stakes victory. That’s why it pays to look for a horse who has recently come close to earning a graded-stakes win while also dominating a lesser class of races over the past few months.
Admiral Lynch certainly fits the bill. The dark brown 4-year-old finished second in the Grade III World of Trouble Sprint Stakes at Gulfstream Park in February and won his latest, an optional claiming race at Saratoga in July, by 4¼ lengths. Sure, the career-high Brisnet speed figure in that outing (104) hints that a bounce could be looming, but his bullet workout two weeks ago at four furlongs (46.8 seconds, the best time out of 19 horses that day) suggests enough time has passed that it might not be as big of an issue.
Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (Grade II)
10th race at Pimlico, 1⅛ miles on dirt
Pick: No. 8 Hopeful Growth, 8-1 on the morning line
Give trainer Anthony Margotta credit for how he is bringing this filly along. He put blinkers on in her maiden race and she won by a nose, paying $20.60. Two starts later, Margotta took the blinkers off and Hopeful Growth won an optional claiming race by 3¾ lengths as the favorite.
Then he sent her around two turns in the Grade III Delaware Oaks, which earned a disappointing fifth by 7¼ lengths. The next outing was the Grade II Monmouth Oaks, again around two turns, which Hopeful Growth won by four lengths (paying $25.60) thanks to more experience. The lessons learned in the Kentucky Oaks at 1⅛ miles — she finished sixth and 11 lengths back — should help her contend in this race Saturday.