Preakness weekend Friday: A Special BESt Bet

Rain washed races off the turf on Friday at Pimlico Race Course, and while the main track is sloppy neither the Black-Eyed Susan nor the Pimlico Special lost any horses to scratches, and it is those two races where I plan to take my biggest stands not only today but also the whole weekend.

There will be no clear favorite in Black-Eyed Susan with #4 Stopchargingmaria the morning line choice at 7-to-2 in the 11-horse field, but #5 Euphrosyne and #8 Sloane Square will be right there with her with three others listed at 8-to-1 or less.

The range of talent in the race is similar to odds except one of the horses at 20-to-1 might be as good as any of the aforementioned six. The gamble comes from the thought that #11 Image of Anna “might be as good” because obviously we don’t know. She’s untested at this level, but the ones who are haven’t exactly set the world on fire, which is why they’re racing today instead of two weeks ago in the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs.

As you can see from the Steve Crist-style ABC grid below, I do like a few of the logical contenders and with seven As & Bs total view the race as “wide open”, but I’m happy to bet Image of Anna at 11-to-1 or better.

I have a similar approach to the Pimlico Special, though I’m a little narrower on top, and I think more people like my longshot in here than will Image of Anna, but #1 Valid is the fastest horse in the race, and although we’ve all been conditioned to beware of South Florida speed shipping north, that’s usually on an even money Todd Pletcher product, and this horse’s connections should ensure fair value on a top performer.

If Valid is more a Florida horse than Maryland then it’s pretty open after that with a slight lean toward Moreno who should dictate the terms of this race and has a win on an off track with a sire who throws 22% winners in these circumstances.

Pick 4s start in races 5 & 9. Jackpot Pick 5 starts in race 8. Both multi-day bets begin with the Pimlico Special: A double ending with the Preakness and a Pick 3 with those two races plus the Dixie Stakes.

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