Garrity’s first post is Race 4 at 2:34 pm EDT.
It's a Thursday, and the day before the day before the Preakness. And because of that, we are going to focus on the racing at Pimlico, as they have a good card in Baltimore, and we want, before the big day on Saturday, to get as much of a feel for the way the racing surfaces are playing there as we can. We will need to pay close attention, because they don't race much at Pimlico these days, and its track has historically been very susceptible to track biases, and we'll need to discern them on the fly, because Pimlico just opened a few days ago, and thus there is not much recent history to go on.
The weather should be fine at Old Hilltop today, and we're expecting a fast main track, and a turf course that is mostly firm: we think the rating of the grass will be firm, but with all the rain that has fallen recently, there should still be at least a bit of cut in it. There's a nine-race Thursday program, the field sizes are big, so there's money to be made. So let's go.
Race 4 (post time 2:34 pm; as always, all times here are Eastern) is a $5,000 claimer for horses 3 and up. 5-Junction is a solid and worthy favorite here: He is in good form, and was last seen finishing a good second in the mud at Laurel two weeks ago. He's fit, he's ready, and he has an edge in the speed figures: we think he’s a go. We see him getting a good stalking trip from the 5 hole, and seizing control of the race turning for home. We will bet him to win. The bet: Pimlico, Race 4, $20 to win on 5-Junction.
Race 6 in Baltimore (post time: 3:30 pm) is another 6-furlong dirt sprint, this one a conditioned allowance race for Maryland-bred horses 3 and up. This will be a very, very good indication of how the dirt course is playing: there are two very speedy horses in here, and they're both on the outside, 7-Great Herman and 8-Nico Bree N Teej. These horses should be winging it right out of the gate; we see Great Herman taking the early lead, with Nico Bree N Teej right behind. We expect the two of these to run each other into the ground, setting the race up for 1-Torch of Truth, who has superior speed figures, but more importantly figures to get a dream stalking trip right behind the dueling speedsters. We will bet Torch of Truth to win, but this is a race that bears careful watching, because if there is an inside or speed bias, the speed horses will show it: They should throw in the towel at the top of the stretch, but if they last longer, it will probably be an indication that the track is kind to speed. The bet: Pimlico, Race 6, $20 to win on 1-Torch of Truth.
Race 7 at Pimlico (post time: 3:58 pm) is an allowance/optional claiming race for horses 3 and up at a 1 1/16 mile on the turf. The standout here is the favorite, 1-Too Much Data. This 4-year-old gelding has been running against some pretty stiff allowance company at Gulfstream, but here drops in for a $25,000 tag. He is going to find the going here much, much easier than in South Florida; we think he blows these horses away with a stalking trip and a big closing move down the stretch. We will bet him to win. The bet: Pimlico, Race 7, $25 to win on 1-Too Much Data.
The nightcap in Baltimore is Race 9, a 5 1/2 furlong turf sprint for $16k claiming horses 3 and up. Post time is scheduled for 4:55 pm. We like 4-Available here, and we like him quite a bit: this 6-year-old gray gelding has been amazingly consistent, with his only poor effort his last race, which was in a race rained off the turf and onto the dirt, and we're willing to excuse that, as the grass is by far his preferred surface. Back on the sod today, we see him reverting to his prior form, which is much better than the rest of these runners. We will bet him to win at 3-1, and we will bet him hard. The bet: Pimlico, Race 9, $35 to win on 4-Available.
That's all for today. We'll be back tomorrow for a special Friday post, looking at the Black-Eyed Susan card at Pimlico. Until then, good luck at the windows.