Thursday Horse Racing: Garrity picks the 2nd, 5th, and 7th races at Pimlico as he warms up for the Preakness
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Thursday Horse Racing: Garrity picks the 2nd, 5th, and 7th races at Pimlico as he warms up for the Preakness

Garrity's first post is at 1:13 pm EDT.

Getting back to handicapping horse races after the news the past week reminds us of what Pee Wee Herman said in his first public appearance after being arrested for indecency in a Florida movie theater. Knowing what everyone would be thinking, Pee Wee shrewdly broke the ice with this opener: “Heard any good jokes lately?”

Well, we’ve not heard any good jokes lately, but we are eager, at least for the purposes of this afternoon, to get past the seemingly endless cycle of the Kentucky Derby, a certain white-maned trainer, and failed drug tests, and we will do so by diving into the past performances. Handicapping horse races has always been an escape for us, a way to avoid the heavy problems of the real world, and we appreciate the fact that they are there when the weight of the world seems heavy, as it does now. The horses, once again, will save us.

We are playing Pimlico, because ready or not, they will be running the Preakness in two days, and while they’ve not caught a break from what came their way from Louisville, they have lucked out with the weather: the next few days in Baltimore look absolutely perfect. So we’re expecting fast and firm at Old Hilltop, and we have three plays on the eight-race Pimlico card. Let’s go.

Pimlico Race Course, Race 2, 1:13 pm ET

$16,000 Maiden Claiming, 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 3 & Up

Six go here. Favored 3-Sheriff’s Kid has the best last-race speed figure, but we’re against her, as she earned it with the aid of a very soft trip from a pace standpoint, running on the lead through slow fractions, and still got caught and finished second. If she couldn’t win with that kind of setup, we think that taking a short price on her here, where she is unlikely to get such a marshmallow-soft trip, is an awful proposition.

The pick is 4-She’s All Courage. She was claimed two back by sharp trainer Carlos Mancilla, who ran her in a mile maiden race on Feb. 1, but was unlucky when the track came up sloppy. She did not embarrass herself, finishing third, but we think she will be better on the fast track she will get this afternoon, and which she seems to prefer. We think we’d like her more than the favorite if the odds were even; the fact that she is 5/2, and Sheriff’s Kid is 7/5, makes the choice a no-brainer. We will bet She’s All Courage to win. The bet: Pimlico, Race 2, $25 to win on 4-She’s All Courage.

Pimlico Race Course, Race 5, 2:52 pm ET
$25,000 Maiden Claiming, 1 mile, Turf, 3 & Up

This maiden claimer at a mile on the turf drew a field of nine. The eight who have raced before have not done much, which has us looking at 2-Zealin It, a first-time starter from the Jamie Ness barn. She seems well-intentioned here, with a nice turf pedigree, and a good morning workout pattern. Ness is good with firsters, winning at a 12% clip, and most important, she will not have to be the second coming of Phar Lap to beat this slow group. We will bet her to win at 3-1. The bet: Pimlico, Race 5, $25 to win on 2-Zealin It.

Pimlico Race Course, Race 7, 3:58 pm ET
Starter Allowance/Optional Claiming, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, 3-Year-Olds

A full field of ten goes to the post for this starter allowance for 3-year-olds, which is restricted to colts who have started for a claiming price of $25,000 or less. A couple of them are absolute speedballs, fast early/slow late types whose presence should ensure a fast or even very fast early pace, pacesetters gasping for air down the stretch, and a closer hitting the finish line first. We think that will be 2-Trouble Coffee, who did a speed-and-fade in his last start -- but that was at a mile and a half. In this shorter race, which will have much faster earlier fractions, he should be in the middle of the pack, or even a little farther back, and he will be rolling late. We will bet him to win at 5/2. The bet: Pimlico, Race 7, $30 to win on 2-Trouble Coffee.

That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.

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