Super Saver has the only chance of being the first Triple Crown winner since 1978 and he'll be two-thirds the way there if he wins the Preakness Saturday at Pimlico Racetrack in Baltimore. Pimlico's showcase day of racing includes five graded stakes preceding the Grade 1 Preakness, which is the 12th of 13 races. As usual, Pimlico will also present the Black-Eyed Susan (G2) on Friday, the traditional filly counterpart to the Preakness. The only filly returning from the Kentucky Oaks field is Tidal Pool, who finished third in that race, less than three lengths back of the blanket finish duo of Blind Luck and Evening Jewel. Among the challengers to Tidal Pool, again ridden by Calvin Borel, are No Such Word, Seeking the Title and Diva Delite.
On Saturday, graded stakes offerings begin with the Chick Lang, a six-furlong G3 sprint for 3-year-olds, race 6 on the card. The morning line favorite at 7-5 is Comedero; Bob Baffert trains the second choice, Quiet Invader.
The 8th race is the G3 William Donald Schaefer, which has attracted Blame, favored at 8-5, and Understatement, from the Todd Pletcher barn at 3-1. Pletcher's mentor, D.Wayne Lukas, has the 4-1 third choice, Flying Private. Following the 1 1/16-mile Schafer is the G3 Gallorette Handicap, a turf race, also 1 1/16 miles, for fillies and mares. The obvious pick here is Rainbow View, a multiple group 1 winner trained by Jonathan Sheppard for owner/breeder George Strawbridge Jr. of Augustin Stable.
A contentious field of 11 will go postward in the six-furlong G3 Maryland Sprint (10th race) followed by the richest race on the undercard, the G2 $200,000 Dixie. Older horses will be going 1 1/8 miles on the turf, and although the likely favorite will be Just As Well, the sentimental choice is the outside post of 13, Nicanor, the full brother of Barbaro.
The Preakness has drawn a field of an even dozen starters, five of whom competed in the Derby where the playing field is never even for all. Much has been said about Lookin At Lucky, the betting favorite in the Derby, and his trip in that race. Bumped and checked repeatedly in the early stages, he still showed the heart of a competitor, running on in the stretch to get sixth. A smaller field, a better post (7) and a new rider should all contribute to an improved showing. Super Saver lines up in the gate next to Lookin At Lucky, and a couple of the new shooters include Caracortado, Pleasant Prince and Northern Giant. Approximate post time for the Preakness is 6:12 p.m. in the east.
The only other graded stakes in the country this weekend are at Hollywood Park; the G2 Jim Murray Handicap is Saturday and the G2 Milady Handicap is Sunday. The Jim Murray is anyone's game without division leader Bourbon Bay in the entries. Trainer Neil Drysdale is giving Bourbon Bay a rest, but his stable runs deep for turf routers. For this 1 ½-mile contest, he's entered Scintillo, a winner of two group races in Europe last year. Scintillo ran 11th in the Japan Cup last November, his most recent start.
The good news for the six fillies and mares entered in the 1 1/16-mile Milady Handicap is that Zenyatta will not be running against them. The undefeated Zenyatta won the 2008 and 2009 editions of the Milady and will most likely start next in June's Vanity Handicap. The high weight in the Milady is John Sadler's Third Dawn, a daughter of Sky Mesa, who has hit the board in two graded stakes.
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