[Editor's note: Liam Durbin is owner/handicapper of e-ponies.com and creator of the One Click Pony, Pro Picks Mobile and Exacta Max apps.]
Analysis: Relentless Ride has been making a decent living out of finishing second or third. Has only missed the board once in eight starts. The only case to be made for him breaking the curse Saturday is that the field is not particularly strong. He dropped in class last time but didn’t pop. Should do so Saturday with the added distance. Margin took a drop in class last time and just missed. Should be in it.
For Value: Mount Coronet finished a miserable eighth last time out but found trouble at the start and never got going. That poor effort should inflate his odds, but behind the one bad effort are several decent performances against good company. Sneaky dangerous.
What to bet: Bet Relentless Ride to win. Box Relentless Ride, Mount Coronet and Margin in an exacta box. Include Rebel Spy to complete your trifecta box.
Analysis: Lunar Rock has been up and down the class ladder and has tried races of all distances. Still always seems to find a way to hit the board. Handled a class bump last time out but still finished third at a price. Many in the field are stepping up in class for the first time so Lunar Rock figures to contend well with them.
For Value: While many in the race are climbing the class ladder, Tooth N Claw has been here for a while. Has some nice back class, but has not fired since dropping down to this level. No obvious excuses for it, but the potential is still there.
What to bet: Bet Tooth N Claw to win. Key Tooth N Claw and Lunar Rock over Regal Warrior and No Brakes in exacta and trifecta wagers.
Analysis: Cheyenne Nation has been racing on the very competitive New York circuit. Should find the going much softer here. Handlers could be shipping him down for a nice score. Is older than most of these but can still run. Will probably be overlooked a bit in the wagering. Arrive comes in to this one off a nice win as the favorite in similar company. Figures to be well bet and to run well again.
For value: Love’s Not Fair could easily have been the morning-line favorite in this one, had he not tanked in his last one, finishing sixth in a field of eight. Before that, he has two seconds and a win in very similar company. Dangerous and odds of 12-1 look like value.
What to bet: If Cheyenne Nation odds rise above 4-1, he becomes a great value. Bet him to win. If not, bet Love’s Not Fair for better value. Box Love’s Not Fair, Cheyenne Nation and Arrive for exacta and trifecta wagers.
Analysis: Majestic Hussar comes in off a layoff, but should find this company much softer than what he is used to. Has raced well off a layoff in the past. Has been racing with much better horses and thus gets the computer’s best class score by a large margin. May be a nice price because he has only hit the board once in his last three starts. Mystical Terp is a strong player if this race is run on the main course instead of turf.
For value: Peppermint Prince ships from Tampa to take a crack at this one. His one start over this track was decent but not good enough to get much action at the betting windows. Has the class to win it.
What to bet: Bet Majestic Hussar to win. Key Majestic Hussar over Peppermint Prince, Star Maneuver and Silvertonguedtommy in exacta and trifecta.
Analysis: Happy My Way has been on a nice tear lately, with three wins and a second in his last four starts. Does not have to lead the whole way to win, but is never too far back. Should be near the front. Although this is his first graded stakes event, clearly belongs with these. Will probably be second betting choice to Service For Ten.
For value: Lemon Drop Dream may not be a long shot but should not drop below 9-2 and at that price is a good value. Comes in off a nice score from off the pace and looks ready for this step up.
What to bet: The favorite is strong but beatable, so spread it around. Bet Lemon Drop Dream to win. Box Happy My Way, Service For Ten and Lemon Drop Dream in exacta and trifecta.
Analysis: Ageless has been fun to watch in her last two. Despite being in short races, has waited until late for an exciting surge to the wire. Should be running late again and could easily get up in time if the pace early is hot. Sensible Lady has been running with classy horses of late, and has hit the board in eight of her last 10.
For value: Knit One Purr Two is lightly raced but has done everything right so far in her short career. Has been steadily climbing the class ladder but looks ready for this next rung. Always near the pace. Always runs her race.
What to bet: If Ageless stays at 9-2 or higher, she is a great value. Bet her to win. Box Knit One Purr Two, Ageless, Sensible Lady, and Madame Giry in exacta and trifecta boxes.
Analysis: Extrasexyhippzster was once on the Derby trail but his last two races were exceptionally bad, finishing eighth in the Gotham and 11th in the Blue Grass. His sire, Pulpit, was best at shorter distances so limiting the race to seven furlongs may be the trick to getting back into form. Brewing is the morning-line favorite, and should dictate the pace. Dangerous if left alone on the lead. But beatable otherwise.
For value: Ground Control is two for two lifetime, and is now taking a logical step up in class. Showed a lot of heart last time back to battle back after being headed late. Could do it.
What to bet: Extrasexyhippzster will likely go off north of his morning-line odds. Bet him to win. Key Extrasexyhippzster over Ground Control, Brewing and Meadowood in exacta and trifecta wagers.
Analysis: Special Envoy closed like a machine in his last four races, and hit the board in all of them, despite making class jumps along the way. Ships in from Keeneland with lofty aspirations. With the right pace scenario, should be able to take control late.
For value: Joint Custody and Ground Control both have no experience on turf, but have been very strong on dirt. Joint Custody has only missed the board once in nine lifetime starts on dirt. Ground Control is a perfect two for two. These two hope to handle the turf well and if they do, both are dangerous.
What to bet: Bet Special Envoy to win. Key Special Envoy over Joint Custody, Ground Control and Thunder Strike in exacta and trifecta wagers.
Analysis: Watsdachances comes in off a nice win as the even-money favorite in a minor stakes race at Aqueduct. Prior to that, he finished a very respectable fourth in the G1 Garden City. He has been no farther back than fourth in his last 10 races, despite running with excellent company. Somali Lemonade has never raced over the Pimlico turf track but has found success over many different tracks. Seems to be steadily improving with each race and belongs with this group. Dropped into allowance company last time out for an easy score before returning to graded stakes races.
For value: Embarr is four of five at Pimlico. Jumping up in class but appears to be a horse for the course.
What to bet: Bet Watsdachnaces to win. Key Watsdachances and Somali Lemonade over Embarr, Brenda’s Way and Strathnaver in exacta and trifecta.
Analysis: Charge Now has just two races lifetime, and only a maiden win to his credit. But still comes in as the morning-line second choice. That says something about the strength of the field. But he ships up from Gulfstream, where the competition is pretty solid, so he has a shot. Class Leader is also lightly raced, with a fourth-place finish in the Illinois Derby to his credit.
For value: He’s A Chance comes in with a two-race win streak. Won his maiden after four tries but then immediately backed it up with a nice allowance win. Some horses just take a few races to figure out how to compete. He could be an improving horse.
What to bet: Favorites are very weak, so take a poke at some value. Bet He’s A Chance to win. Box Charge Now, Class Leader, Ground Control and He’s A Chance in exacta and trifecta.
Analysis: Hey Leroy is coming off a win with similar company so is a logical favorite. Has just one bad race in his last ten. Would not be a big surprise to see him win but he’s no lock. Last fall Up With The Birds won a G1 event at Belmont before taking some time off. He should have won his tune up at Keenland last time out but ran sixth. He remains the class of the race and doesn’t need to be all the way back in form to win against these.
For value: Roadhog has been racing with a slightly lower tier of horses but has been in great form lately. Two seconds and two wins in his last four, one of them right here at Pimlico. His morning line odds of 8:1 are a great price for an improving horse like him.
What to bet: There’s no obvious choice in this one so look for value. At 8-1 or higher bet Roadhog to win. If not, take Hey Leroy. Box Roadhog, Hey Leroy, Up With The Birds and Charming Kitten in exacta and trifecta wagers.
RACE 12: PREAKNESS
Analysis: California Chrome proved he was up to the hype by winning the Derby in the same impressive fashion as he had won his previous four races. The Preakness field and distance are not different enough from the Derby to expect a different outcome. The pace scenario should allow him to stay in stalking position, as his preference. Unless he has an off day, California Chrome should win it. Social Inclusion is very lightly raced and his only loss in three starts was in the Wood Memorial. In that one, he went off a heavy favorite but could not hold his speed to the wire, finishing third. If that race can be forgiven, he will be dangerous as part of the pace. Ride On Curlin’s performance in the Derby was better than it looks on form. He finished well despite a rough trip, and he should find less traffic in the Preakness. Ria Antonia has been very good against fillies but will struggle to keep up with the boys in the Preakness. Although Rachel Alexandra pulled it off, Ria Antonia does not appear to be as likely to do it.
For value: Kid Cruz comes in off a win in the Federico Tesio right here at Pimlico. Despite being lightly raced, was well bet in that one, and then backed it up with a strong, willing performance. Appears to be an improving horse. Based on breeding should love the distance.
What to bet: Buy a souvenir $2 win ticket on California Chrome because if he wins the Preakness, he could complete the Triple Crown. For exotics, key California Chrome and Kid Cruz over Social Inclusion, Ride On Curlin and Bayern in exacta and trifecta wagers.
Analysis: Both halves of the 1-1A entry look pretty decent so they are a logical choice to win amongst a bunch of lightly raced maidens. Either one of them could easily step up and win. My Son Ernie finished a solid second in his one start, despite finding some trouble throughout. A better trip puts him right there.
For value: Nevsky has back to back fourth-place finishes, but both of those were against decent-sized fields, so he has at least beaten some horses. Took a class drop last time out and it didn’t help much, but this field is pretty soft so he should do no worse than fourth again, but possibly better than fourth. At 12-1 he is worth a look.
What to bet: Bet the 1-1A entry to win. Box the entry with My Son Ernie, Nevsky, and Loren’s Rock in exacta and trifecta wagers.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun