Oddly, MJC Cuts Purses For Preakness Weekend. Plus, We Are Betting Gulfstream On Saturday

Featured, Sports and Bets — February 21, 2015 at 9:42 am by

The Maryland Jockey Club released their spring stakes schedule on Wednesday and it’s enough to say that I’m a bit disappointed. While the stakes schedule is still decent and while there is an obvious attempt being made to boost the profile of the Pimlico Special, I still find the direction of the two-day Preakness undercard to be a bit confusing and lacking.  The MJC cut the purses of the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan from $500,000 to $250,000 and the Grade 2 Dixie from $400,000 to $300,000.  This may not seem like a big deal to most, but to me, it’s a bewildering move.  The MJC seemed headed in the right direction with their Preakness celebration last season.  They boosted the Black Eyed Susan from #300K to $500K and they boosted the Dixie, which is Maryland’s biggest turf race of the season, from $300K to $400K.  Because of this, both races drew higher quality fields and both added a big money feel to Maryland’s premiere horse racing weekend.  The MJC also put an emphasis on the Pimlico Special in an attempt to draw some of the best older horses in the nation to Baltimore.

The result was a two day card that was the best that Maryland had drawn in years.  There was a special feel around Pimlico.  There was a feeling that horseracing was back in; that the damaged Sport of Kings was making a big resurgence in the area. The big money purses drew fine fields and the horse racing was drawing almost as much interest as the infield party.  It seemed a lock that the MJC would continue to grow the event, it seemed that they would recognize that money begat money.  It would seem that a purse increase for 2015 would be in order.  The horses and therefore the racing product, would be even better in 2015 if the purses to the undercard races grew even more and remained static for the future. Growing and maintaining the purses on this day would send a message to the horse world.  “Bring your best to Pimlico in the spring, the money is here and the money will remain here.”  Making Preakness weekend an absolute monster would bring even more local and national attention. The best trainers in the country wouldn’t be able to ignore the prize money, they would have to circle these two days in May on their calendars.   They would be forced to bring their best here if the dough was big.  Maybe the larger purses would even get the Dixie or the Pimlico Special a Grade 1 distinction.

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But instead the purses dropped.  It makes no sense.  The third weekend in May is the weekend for Maryland horseracing.  Everything else here plays fifth fiddle.  Make the weekend the absolute jewel of the spring.  Find a way to make the Black Eyed Susan a $500K purse.  Find a way to pay out $750K for the Dixie and the Pimlico Special.  If the money is there the big boys and girls will come. (The MJC is offering a bonus to Pimlico Special winners if the horse had won a Triple Crown race.   If they just increase the purse, the horses will come anyway.) Preakness weekend should be the best of the best.

But enough pontificating.  There is wagering to be done.   Laurel was awesome last weekend, despite the weather, and despite the fact that I still don’t agree with a meet in the middle of winter until we fix this thing called Maryland Horse Racing, but again, I digress. This weekend, Laurel isn’t offering a great card, and I’m simply not good at picking low level claiming races. But down at Gulfstream the action is big and the horses are of extreme quality.  Value looms.  So that’s where our attention will be- sunny Florida for some Graded Stakes action.  This, of course, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit Laurel, or even the simulcast that is Pimlico.  It’s always fun to watch ’em run live and for my entertainment dollar, the atmosphere at both tracks is always fun.

Gulfstream is offering a card with eight stakes races and the Fountain of Youth as the main event.  Those eight races are where our wagering focus will be. The FOY is a Kentucky Derby prep, so we’ll get a look at some horse that may be here in Baltimore before you know it. The big time starts at race four.

Gulfstream Park

Race 4- The Rampart G3-  #2 Wedding Toast looks the part of the favorite.  With five wins and two seconds in seven lifetime starts, she should be.  She also looks to be the lone speed here and that is always dangerous, especially at Gulfstream.  But our focus will be on another, the #5 Sheer Drama.  She begged for more distance in her last, and she’ll get that extra panel here.  At 37-1 she was rolling late from the clouds.  She’ll need to stay closer to the front this time, but I feel that’s what she’ll do. Coming from 12 lengths back isn’t her M.O.  She may not beat Wedding Toast, but if she stays close and kicks for home, she’s got a shot.  Heavy exacta play 2/5 boxed and 2/6 boxed.  Also win and place bets on Sheer Drama.  Longshot special.  Risky business, babes.

Race 5– The Very One G3-  #6 Riposte was on her way to greatness last year until she was sidelined by injury.  She makes her return here on the Gulfstream lawn and she’s the main threat.  But we will try to beat her. #5 Kitten’s Point is our play.  Looks like she liked the distance stretch out in her last and she’ll get similar in this.  Some mares, especially grass mares, really grow into their own at 5 years old.  This horse has that look.  Her Daddy is turf pedigree monster, and the last race had her rolling like a freight train in the lane.  She may be hurt a bit by a slow pace up front, but if she can stay in that 4-5 length distance early, she’ll have a great chance a mowing down this solid and competitive field.  She also will have some value.  Playa.

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Race 6–  Gulstream Park Sprint G3- This s tough one with some sprint monsters and honestly, I may sit it out.  But if you twist my arm, and I have to gamble, I’m going to do it unconventionally.  Mean Season is the most talented horse, but he’s oft injured and coming off a long layoff.   There are two or three others who have proven themselves worthy of a win here as well.  But  since I can’t really decide between any of them I’ll go with the 2 C. Zee.  Missed by a length in his return off the bench.   Nice blowout work for this and can improve off last.  Might be sitting on a big one?  The speed can come back to him in the lane if he fires.  Only playable at 5-1 of better.  Upset.

Race 7– Ladies Turf Sprint- Another brain buster, but in this I’ll stay with the ML favorite, #3 Good Deed.  Carried 22 flat speed and that is no joke, friends.  Will have plenty of company up front, but this is five furlongs of blaze.  If we get beat, we get beat backing a beast.  Wire-to-wire.  If she’s first out of the turn at 44 1/5, she’s a winner.  Use with #2, #6, #12

Race 8– The Davona Dale G2- #6 Puca had traffic problems in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies and she appears here for her 2014 debut.  Horse Genius Bill Mott will have her ready off the break.  She’s lost by a combined 4 1/2 lengths to two Breeders Cup champs on two different surfaces.  Love the latest works and Rosario keeps the faith.  She’ll never stay at 10-1, but she’s a play for me at ant price down to 3-1.  Like the 12 Cavorting as well. Exacta play there and with others.  Hammer.

Race 9– The Mac Diarmida G2-  This is a two horse race between turf horse of the year and Breeder’s Cup champ,#1  Main Sequence and the horse that can never seem to beat him, #6 Twilight Eclipse.  These are two of the best grass runners in the country and they square off here.  Will be using both in a pick three that starts on Race 8.  Take your pick.  Monster performers.

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Race 10– The Canadian Turf G3- Wide open field for this and I’m on the #2 Grand Tito.  Started off the season well here at Gulstream with two losses to Mshawish, who is running lights out right now.  That guy isn’t here and Tito may be able to sit a nice trip with the speed to his inside wanting the lead.  His Beyers are on par, his form is tight, and he’s won here before.  Putting in exactas and trifectas with several horses.  (1,6,7,9, 11) Will need him up for at least second.  8-1 adds to his appeal. His time to shine in a great race.

Race 11– The Fountain Of Youth G2- Our resident track genius, Cliff B. loves the favorite, Uptart.  That means I do too.  Let’s watch him roll. Dominating in his last, looks the part.  Maybe we’ll see him in Baltimore soon?

Good luck and enjoy.

cover: paulickreport

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