Preakness Day Action will Continue Well Into the Night

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Ted Black

May 19th, 2017

While millions of serious and novice thoroughbred racing fans alike will pay close attention to the 142nd edition of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on Saturday as Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming looks to keep his hopes alive for Triple Crown glory, standardbred racing fans will still have plenty of wagering opportunities after the Preakness is made official.

Saturday's Grade I, $1.5 million Preakness Stakes at one-mile and three-sixteenths will take center stage as Always Dreaming, sharp winner over the sloppy Churchill Downs strip as the tepid 9-2 favorite in the Kentucky Derby, will likely go postward at a considerably shorter price this weekend. But several Derby horses that either had troubled trips or simply could not handle the off going in Louisville will be on hand, including Classic Empire, Gunnevera and Hence, along with Lookin At Lee, who finished second at a big price.

Always Dreaming benefited from an ideal trip over the sloppy surface at Churchill Downs to capture the run for the roses and he could easily enjoy a similar trip on Saturday at Pimlico, since he possesses tactical speed and will contest a slightly shorter race over a smaller oval. But if ends up going postward at or below his 4-5 morning line price he is worth playing against and Classic Empire, Gunnevera and Hence are all worth backing at decent prices. Classic Empire was the 9-2 second choice in the Derby and should be a similar price here.

Saturday's Pimlico card also includes the Grade II, $250,000 Dixie Stakes on the turf where Projected, Blacktype, Ring Weekend and World Approval will all vie for favoritism and the winner's share. One race earlier in the $100,000 Sir Barton Stakes for three-year-old colts and geldings, Hedge Fund looms the favorite for Pletcher, but Time To Travel, Honor The Fleet and True Timber all have legitimate upset chances.

One race earlier in the Grade III, $150,000 Gallorette for fillies and mares on the turf, On Leave and Elysea's World will vie for favoritism and the top prize, but Zipessa, Danilova and Cambodia could offer serious upset prospects at generous prices. One race prior to that in the Grade III, $150,000 Maryland Sprint, reigning Maryland-based horse of the year and Eclipse finalist A.P. Indian will clash with the razor sharp Whitmore, while one race earlier in the $200,000 Chick Lang Stakes for three-year-olds, Recruiting Ready arrives off a sharp score at Oaklawn and could get tested by Three Rules while Liar's Dice offers an upset chance following a good, second-place effort at Charles Town.

While three-year-olds will take center stages in distance races and sprints at Pimlico on Saturday, the sophomore pacers of both genders will be on display that night at Yonkers Raceway.

In the first elimination of the Lismore Stakes for three-year-old pacing fillies, Agent Q and Tequila Monday will vie for favoritism and seek to peak next weekend in the $150,000 final. Then two races later in the Art Rooney elimination for three-year-old pacing colts, only one sophomore will get eliminated but it will likely not be Downbytheseaside, who won his seasonal debut for trainer Brian Brown at the Meadows and was one of the sport's top freshman pacers last season. Delaware invader Henry The Dragon arrives for "Team Teague" having won seven of 10 lifetime starts, while Miso Fast (Matt Kakaley) drew post two for trainer Ron Burke.

Several races later Yonkers will offer the $55,000 Open Handicap for older pacers that looks like an elim for the George Morton Levy series. Guantanamo Bay has the rail, with Mach It So, Nuclear Dragon, Missile J, Bit Of A Legend N, Blood Brother, All Bets Off and Great Vintage also completing the field. Missile J was the beaten favorite in the Levy final, while Bit Of A Legend N won the 2016 edition of the Levy final and Mach It So has been a fixture in the Levy series since 2014 and could be among the best horses in the land still winless at this point.

That same night at The Meadowlands in New Jersey, the $20,000 Open feature there includes McWicked and Clear Vision, both of which performed superbly in the Levy series, and New Zealand invader Christen Me, who won his United States debut for trainer Jo Ann Looney-King in 1:51. Clear Vision won the Levy consolation and he and McWicked engaged in a spirited battle in one of the early eliminations.

Not to be overlooked, especially among Maryland racing fans, the evening feature at Rosecroft Raceway is a $10,000 Open that includes Hi Sir, Smart Rokker, Hide Me Away, Rock N Roll Jet, Captive Audience and McKenry. Captive Audience is perhaps the best horse at the track on Saturday to be winless on the season as he seeks his first win in 18 outings.