Paul Quigley's American Racing Preview

    Paul is in great form and picked out 4 winners from 5 selections on Wednesday and has selections with analysis for Saturday night's Stateside action on May 19 from Pimlico, including The Grade 1 Preakness Stakes - live on At The Races.

PAUL'S ANALYSIS FROM Pimlico, including The Grade 1 Preakness Stakes
Saturday 19 May 2018


It’s The 143rd Running of The Preakness on Saturday, the second leg of America’s Triple Crown. The principals from The Kentucky Derby are in the line up. Bob Baffert’s Justify will be odds on to beat runner up Good Magic and go to The Belmont Stakes with a real live chance. He was dominant in Kentucky, drawing off after attending very quick fractions. The son of Scat Daddy is very likely to encounter similar wet track conditions he did in The Derby. That said, not all off tracks are the same and this is his first start at Pimlico. He was reported to have had a bruised foot the day after his victory. That’s maybe a chink of light for those wishing to oppose him. Also, he only made his career debut in February. Five races in thirteen weeks could be his undoing, especially this one is only a fortnight after his latest.

The Preakness is the undoubted highlight of the evening. The chance of seeing a genuine Triple Crown contender is grounds alone to tune in to Attheraces Stateside. From a betting point of view, backers will be lucky to make 50% of what they are risking on Justify. The only logical danger Good Magic is likely to be around 3/1. Those that combined the two in the exacta at Churchill were rewarded with an over 33/1 dividend. That combo will yield a tiny fraction of that on Saturday (maybe little more than even money). With that in mind, the more creative of you may look for which big price will round out the trifecta. It will be no shock if any of the remaining half a dozen sneak onto the podium. Hopefully before the big race, the preview below has found a couple of decent priced winners in the six stakes that precede it.


Pimlico Race 7 (7.07pm)
The Dixie (Grade 2) – 3 year olds and upwards – 1 1/16 Miles - Turf

World Approval (7) used to be a regular in staying events at the top level. He’s looked even better since Mark Casse cut him back in distance. He won this race in 2017 and then a trio of Grade 1’s over a mile including The Breeders’ Cup. He had Fire Away (1) back in third when justifying short priced favouritism on his return in February. On the back of that he was made odds on again for a Grade 1 at Santa Anita in March. He ran flat finishing fifth. His trainer Mark Casse cites losing regular rider John Velazquez and his comeback taking more out of him than he realized at the time as reasons for the effort. Now freshened and with Johnny V. back in the saddle, he looks a likely rebound candidate. The six year old has tactical speed in a pretty paceless race.

World Approval and possible second favourite Divisidero (8) are proven on softish turf but the ground may be a lot worse than either have raced on before. Divisidero won the same Grade 1 on The Kentucky Derby undercard in 2016 and 2017. He never made it there this year as his trainer thought he needed more work before his seasonal bow. In the past, he’s been a horse that is best second or even third time back. Maybe new handler Rubley Kelly can have him cranked up for his reappearance. He gives away a recency edge to the favourite and the likes of Frostmourne (4). He won twice in only four starts as a three year old. He’s shaped well in both starts this term and seems to be improving. .

PAUL'S SELECTION
World Approval (7)
EXOTIC BETS
No Exotics

BET ON US RACING
You can place single and some exotic bets with many of the following UK bookmakers:
Betfair | William Hill | Sky Bet | Bet365 | Ladbrokes | Paddy Power |
Coral | Betway | Betfred | BoyleSports | RaceBets | Stan James


Pimlico Race 8 (7.45pm)
The Chick Lang – A stake for 3 year olds – 6 Furlongs - Dirt

Mitole (5) is likely to be all the rage here. He’s an improving three year old who has won back to back starts at Oaklawn by an aggregate of 16 lengths. The latest was a stakes event last month. On speed figures, he’s entitled to be odds on. He may have pace partners if jockey Ricardo Santana sends him for the lead. More worryingly at his likely price, is the prospect of an off track. He did run his worse race since his career debut when second in the slop in February.

Curly's Rocket (7) who won first time since moving to trainer Al Stall is one alternative to Mitole. Another is Soutache (9) who may have needed his comeback in March. Pure Shot (3) a barn mate of the favourite won his last start on dirt by four lengths. His regular rider stays loyal to Mitole. Maybe a better play is Still Having Fun (1). He is cut back in distance after a pair of one paced efforts in stakes over two turns. Prior to that, he’d looked a decent late runner in extended sprints. Six furlongs today could be a tad short but he will get pace to chase down.

PAUL'S SELECTION
Still Having Fun (1) each way
EXOTIC BETS
No Exotics

BET ON US RACING
You can place single and some exotic bets with many of the following UK bookmakers:
Betfair | William Hill | Sky Bet | Bet365 | Ladbrokes | Paddy Power |
Coral | Betway | Betfred | BoyleSports | RaceBets | Stan James


Pimlico Race 9 (8.25pm)
The Gallorette (Grade 3) – Fillies and Mares – 3 year olds and upwards – 1 1/16 Miles - Turf

The pair that are likely to dominate the market ran in this race in 2017. Cambodia (5) was a two length winner. She held her form all year, winning a pair of Grade 2’s and running fourth in a Grade 1. She reappeared at the top level at Keeneland last month and was a one paced sixth. Interestingly, she won second time back last term and has form on rain softened ground.

Elysea's World (8) ran third to Cambodia in last year’s renewal. Chad Browns filly never got her head in front despite some fine efforts. The late runner never seemed to find the gaps when her rider needed them. A 10 race winless streak ended on her reappearance in a Grade 3 at Gulfstream in February. She beat barn mare Dream Awhile a neck with Ultra Brat (3) back in third.

Cambodia and Elysea's World are the most likely winners and may run one-two. With the likelihood of really soft ground, Blessed Silence (6) may be worth siding with. The former French trained mare didn’t pull up any trees when third at Aqueduct on her Stateside debut. She’d been away five months. More importantly, she looked one paced on firm ground. Her form on a soft surface suggests she will run much better given today’s likely underfoot conditions.

PAUL'S SELECTION
Blessed Silence (6)
EXOTIC BETS
No Exotics

BET ON US RACING
You can place single and some exotic bets with many of the following UK bookmakers:
Betfair | William Hill | Sky Bet | Bet365 | Ladbrokes | Paddy Power |
Coral | Betway | Betfred | BoyleSports | RaceBets | Stan James


Pimlico Race 10 (9.05pm)
The Maryland Sprint (Grade 3) – 3 year olds and upwards - 6 Furlongs - Dirt

There aren’t many horses who improve for leaving Chad Brown. That’s what Switzerland (5) has done in the hands of Steve Asmussen. The once win shy colt has won back to back allowance events at Oaklawn since a trainer change. He is proven on an off track too. His former barn mate Long Haul Bay (9) is not. He’s only had four career starts, winning a Grade 3 second time out over a year ago. He’d been away the best part of 10 months when drawing away nicely from a decent field of New York breds on his return. He meets better competition here but if he handles the underfoot conditions, is likely to outfinish the pace horses.

After losing on his career debut Lewisfield (4) has won five of his six career starts. The latest was a stake for Maryland breds at Laurel in March. Based on the speed figures he’s been running, he’s a contender here. He may have a pair of pace partners in Red Dragon Tattoo (3) and Switzerland (5).

PAUL'S SELECTION
Long Haul Bay (9)
EXOTIC BETS
No Exotics

BET ON US RACING
You can place single and some exotic bets with many of the following UK bookmakers:
Betfair | William Hill | Sky Bet | Bet365 | Ladbrokes | Paddy Power |
Coral | Betway | Betfred | BoyleSports | RaceBets | Stan James


Pimlico Race 11 (9.42pm)
The Very One – A stake for fillies and mares – 3 year olds and upwards – 5 Furlongs - Turf

Girls Know Best (7) is the clear pick on form. She was claimed by trainer Eddie Kenneally for $40,000 last October and he’s turned her into a stakes winner. At Gulfstream in January, she defeated good yardstick Just Talkin (12). That filly has ran well twice since including a wide margin allowance victory in March. Girls Know Best was freshened up and returned with a dominating six length victory at Keeneland last month. The ground was listed as ‘yielding’ there which gives hope she’ll handle the likely soft underfoot conditions here. It may be worth bearing in mind, she ran 1-03 at Keeneland that suggests the ground wasn’t nearly as deep as it will be today.

In the hope that the turf course is almost untraceable, Boos (8) gets the vote at a big price. The former French trained filly has not raced since last September but her trainer Alan Goldberg has a fine record with lay off runners. Her form in a trio of starts Stateside is way below the likes of Girls Know Best and Just Talkin. Those starts were on very firm going. Judging by her record in France, soft ground is likely to see her run much better. In contrast, many of her rivals may not act on it.

Smiling Causeway (11) is a progressive four year old. She has had some time away since winning a stake at Tampa in December. Her morning workouts are very encouraging. She has upside and so has an on song Pretty Perfection (3). She won five times in 2017 and has had a couple of tough trips this year.

PAUL'S SELECTION
Boos (8)
EXOTIC BETS
No Exotics

BET ON US RACING
You can place single and some exotic bets with many of the following UK bookmakers:
Betfair | William Hill | Sky Bet | Bet365 | Ladbrokes | Paddy Power |
Coral | Betway | Betfred | BoyleSports | RaceBets | Stan James


Pimlico Race 12 (10.39pm)
The Sir Barton – A stake for 3 year olds – 1 1/16 Miles – Dirt

Maybe if Bob Baffert didn’t have such an obvious Preakness winner in Justify that his Ax Man (8) may have lined up in the big race. Instead, he runs in this event for runners that have never won a stake. He has the same profile as The Kentucky Derby winner going into the big race. He’s a lightly raced colt who didn’t make his career debut until early this year. He’s won two races in emphatic fashion. At Santa Anita last month, he slammed an allowance field by eight and a half lengths in a swift time. A repeat performance and he’ll be hard to beat. He did fade badly in his only other start in stakes company. In fairness, he dueled in wicked early fractions. Like most of these, he may have to prove himself on a wet track.

If it is not Ax Man, there are two or three likely alternatives. Todd Pletcher’s Pony Up (2) has been placed in back to back Grade 3’s at Turfway and latterly on the dirt at Keeneland. He is likely to be a late player. The Steve Asmussen trained Title Ready (11) and Dream Baby Dream (6) have been running at Oaklawn Park. The first named got the barn bragging rights in February. Dream Baby Dream finished down the field in The Grade 1 Arkansas Derby last month.

PAUL'S SELECTION
Ax Man (8)
EXOTIC BETS
No Exotics

BET ON US RACING
You can place single and some exotic bets with many of the following UK bookmakers:
Betfair | William Hill | Sky Bet | Bet365 | Ladbrokes | Paddy Power |
Coral | Betway | Betfred | BoyleSports | RaceBets | Stan James


Pimlico Race 13 (11.48pm)
The Preakness (Grade 1) – 3 year olds – 1 3/16 Miles - Dirt

It looked a good renewal of The Grade 1 Kentucky Derby beforehand. The fact that Justify (7) was a clear cut winner suggests he is a top class colt. He went into the race unbeaten in three career starts and enhanced his reputation in spades in the big race itself. He attended a fast pace but still had too much for Good Magic (5) and a band of stretch runners. What makes Justify’s run so good is that traditionally in The Kentucky Derby when the first four furlongs is so fast (sub 46 seconds), the race normally falls apart and a deep closer wins it. Not only did Justify hold on well but he literally ran faster than any other runner in the latter stages of the race. There seem a couple of certainties on Saturday. The track will be wet (like it was at Churchill) and Justify will be odds on. Excuse the pun but his odds are justified. This will be his fifth race since his career debut in February and this one with only a fortnight turnaround.

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Good Magic (5) has improved in each of his three starts this year. He stalked in close attendance to Justify and did make a dangerous-looking run at him in mid stretch. That effort petered out late on and he was all out to hold on for second from the late runners. Considering all the other ‘pace’ types at Churchill fell away badly, there was a lot of merit to Good Magic’s performance. But the winner hardly had it easy and he needs to improve or more likely Justify to regress a little. The fact that Chad Brown runs him back quickly which is a rarity could be gleamed as positive. The cynic in me thinks as there is in reality nothing else for him to go for until July, why wouldn’t you take a shot. Connections have already ruled out The Belmont Stakes in June.

The beauty of this race is often the ‘new shooters’ who didn’t run in The Kentucky Derby. Last year’s Preakness winner Cloud Computing was one such. Like him Tenfold (6) had only three career starts going into the race. His last was when a decent fifth in The Grade 1 Arkansas Derby. Quip (1) finished half a length in front of him in second. He is in the same ownership as Justify. The winner and third at Oaklawn both had rough trips in The Kentucky Derby so it’s hard to properly gauge how good the form is. On speed figures, they need to improve a little. It will be interesting to see if Quip shows his usual speed and Justify stalks him.

Sporting Chance (3) looks to have stamina limitations. Diamond King (4) looks in too deep even to get a minor award. The remaining duo look interesting to turn a short priced exacta to a fair trifecta dividend. Both were well beaten at Churchill. Bravazo (8) was beaten eight lengths. A repeat of that sort of loss may get him third placed money here. Not far behind him was late running Lone Sailor (2). He got the fast fractions he needs in The Derby but had his run blocked at the beginning of the stretch. He would need a pace meltdown and the favourites to run poorly to win this race but a bronze medal behind The Big Two is entirely possible.

PAUL'S SELECTION
Justify (7)
EXOTIC BETS
Straight Trifecta (1 Bet) Justify (7), Good Magic (5) over Lone Sailor (2)
Straight Trifecta (1 Bet) Justify (7), Good Magic (5) over Bravazo (8)

BET ON US RACING
You can place single and some exotic bets with many of the following UK bookmakers:
Betfair | William Hill | Sky Bet | Bet365 | Ladbrokes | Paddy Power |
Coral | Betway | Betfred | BoyleSports | RaceBets | Stan James


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