With 12% take, Pick 5s your best bet Preakness weekend
Your best bet this Preakness weekend isn't necessarily Always Dreaming or any other particular horse you fancy. Rather, it's the Pick 5 wagers Pimlico will offer on both Friday's Black-Eyed Susan card and Saturday's Preakness Day program.
While the takeout rates for multi-race wagers like the Pick 3 and Pick 4 are barely on the sunny side of 26% (ouch!), the Pick 5 takeout is an industry-low 12% with a 50-cent minimum. With huge pools expected both days and competitive stakes encompassing a couple of those Pick 5 opportunities, it'll pay to participate if your handicapping is shrewd.
Here's my Black-Eyed Susan Day all-stakes Pick 5:
Race 7 (Pimlico Special): Shaman Ghost (#6, 4-5), second to Arrogate in the Pegasus World Cup (G1) and then a game winner of the Santa Anita H. (G1) on a track trainer Jimmy Jerkens said he didn't particularly care for, really should win this. Even with the scratch of Noble Bird, I'm hoping the likes of Discreet Lover and Conquest Windycity can keep the improving Dolphus honest early and thus help the odds-on choice.
Race 8 (Hilltop): Victory to Victory (#3, 5-2) is a must-use on class having won the Natalma (G1) last fall, but I don't think she towers over this field on paper. Stakes winner Compelled (#5, 3-1) has run some top-notch races against the likes of Victory to Victory's stablemate La Coronel and is another obvious threat.
Race 9 (Miss Preakness): Arguably the most contentious race of the afternoon thus a logical race on which to spread. Morning line favorites Our Majesty (#5, 7-2), who has crossed the wire first in all three starts; Nonna Bella (#8), who edged Salty in her debut; and Pretty City Dancer (#12, 6-1), who's had rough trips most of the season, will be complemented by two others. Vertical Oak (#6, 10-1), a Saratoga maiden winner, rebounded from being hindered by Our Majesty at Oaklawn by dominating stakes rivals at Prairie Meadows in quick time. Bode's Dream (#7, 12-1), who shortens up from seven furlongs, could be the speed of the speed.
Race 10 (Jim McKay Turf Sprint): Amelia's Wild Ride (#2, 6-1) is one of the more accomplished members of the field, and will be a square price given this will be his first start in 14 months. Pay Any Price (#4, 3-1) might simply be faster than these, while Southern California invader Richard's Boy (#10, 4-1) comes off a strong showing in the Al Quoz Sprint (G1) in Dubai. Take Cover (#6, 15-1), who won the $150,000 Pennsylvania Governor's Cup last summer, has the ability to be competitive in his first outing since October.
Race 11 (Black-Eyed Susan): Trainer Todd Pletcher has won this race four times, each one with a future Grade 1 winner. It's too early to suggest Lights of Medina (#5, 8-1) or Moana (#7, 4-1) will reach similar heights, but ignore them at your peril. The Mark Casse-trained pair of Corporate Queen (#6, 15-1) and especially Summer Luck (#9, 5-1) are probably better than their recent form suggests. Torrent (#8, 15-1) had a troubled trip in the Fantasy (G3) and could improve here, while Actress (#10, 12-1) is a maiden with an appealing pedigree who should find this trip suitable.
The 50-cent ticket is 6 with 3,5 with 5,6,7,8,12 with 2,4,6,10 with 5,6,7,8,9,10 = $120