Analysis, best bets for Friday race card at Pimlico Race Course

The 2016 Preakness field of 11 horses is set and all are trying to complete for the second leg of the Triple Crown. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun video)

Gabby Gaudet's analysis for Friday's race card at Pimlico Race Course:

Race 1, 11:30 a.m. post time


Selections: No. 6 Anna Rae, No. 8 Touch and Smile, No. 7 Ring Knocker

It wasn't an easy ask for Anna Rae to step up against Grade 1 company after beating maiden claimers at Saratoga. Despite the subpar performances, I like that she's been given time off and should improve as a 3-year-old. Blinkers go on today, a winning move for the barn (27-95, 28 percent and $2.66 ROI). Touch and Smile fell second to Quick Release last time out (now pointing toward the Miss Preakness Stakes). She had no excuse to lose other than perhaps she just simply caught a good one? Ring Knocker could be retooled since March in new barn and should get the pace she wants.


Race 2, 12:01 p.m.

Selections: No. 11 Bioterp, No. 4 Do What I Say, No. 10 Top Sheet

Bioterp has found a home sprinting on turf. However last time out found the rail post to be an issue. I do like the acceleration we see from her at the top of the lane and she gets a better post today. Do What I Say was sharp in her turf debut, but how wrong was the field? It did produce a next out winner -- however that winner was on the drop to maiden claiming level. Top Sheet wants to be close to the lead or nowhere at all. Blinkers go on to sharpen her up and I expect her to be on or very near the lead.

Race 3, 12:32 p.m.


Selections: No. 8 Fantastic Style, No. 9 Sweet On Smokey, No. 6 Raging Smoke

At first glance, this race has the presence of a lot of early speed. Several need the lead and the fact that Fantastic Style doesn't, is what makes her so appealing. She may inherit that position because she is naturally so fast and exits very fast races, but I like the versatility we see in her. Sweet On Smokey will be eyeing the aforementioned pacesetters and waiting for it all to unfold. Raging Smoke enters with a confidence booster in the Sugar Maple last out. She too will benefit from the pace scenario.

Race 4, 1:03 p.m.

Selections: No. 16 Hold Harmless, No. 7 Leafy Shade, No. 3. Queenofzeenile

If Hold Harmless draws in off the also eligibles, I'll prefer her most. If not, Leafy Shade is intriguing because of how well the connections do with their European acquisitions alone. This seems like the right spot making her stateside debut considering the steep competition in Group 1/Group 3 races at the Curragh. Queenofzeenile ran her career-best number first off the claim last out. Should be able to save ground, stalking today.

Race 5, 1:34 p.m.

Selections: No. 6 Top of Mind, No. 9 Tale of Life, No. 1 Tekton

Top of Mind ran out of his appropriate condition to face three-other-than-allowance company last out. I thought that was a strong effort considering. Should take a big step forward third off the layoff. I like that Tale of Life has managed to quicken since transitioning his form to dirt. Although he beat a short field at Keeneland last time out, it was a potent field of foes who broke their maidens at Churchill, Gulfstream, etc. Respect. It seems like the closer Tekton is to the pace, the better. We'll find out very early in the stages of the race whether he'll perform today or not, but he has been compromised by trips in the past two since the layoff, and the price is right.

Race 6, 2:06 p.m.

Selections: No. 12 Rocky Policy, No. 4 Sunnysammi, No. 10 Pret Say Eye

Rocky Policy may prefer 5 1/2 furlongs versus the flat 5 furlongs today, that is a concern, but there's no overlooking the effort she put in last time out. She closed rapidly in the middle part of the stretch and lost the bob at the wire. She looks like an improving type but her best chance here is still to hope that someone softens Sunnysammi on the lead. Bret Say Eye secured a position on the inside last time out, but quickly had to check and regather herself on the outside of horses. Thought that hiccup took a little wind out of her sails and she draws a great post given her style today.

Race 7, 2:39 p.m.

Selections: No. 1 Page McKenney, No. 7 Noble Bird, No. 5 Idolo Porteno

If you want a reliable check-getter, look no farther than the resolve of Page McKenney. His agility and heart make him a tough one not to root for. Noble Bird needs to overcome and not repeat the antics he pulled in the Alysheba last out for a better outcome. The key is for him to break well and settle toward the lead and he has a perfect post to do so today. Idolo Porteno could sneak into the money.

Race 8, 3:13 p.m.

Selections: No. 7 Rocket Heat, No. 2 Ben's Cat, No. 5 Night Officer

Ben's Cat made his 10-year-old debut with a message, loud and clear -- he ain't done yet. Visually, it was incredible and I'll be cheering for the home team regardless, but the dangerous attribute that Rocket Heat has is his early speed. If he shakes loose on the lead (and I think he's fast enough to do so), he'll be very tough to catch. Night Officer seems like his form is recently jumbled with a lot of seconds and thirds but he's been able to run with the best and merits the respect.

Race 9, 3:44 p.m.

Selections: No. 10 Tiger Ride, No. 5 Ahh Chocolate, No. 1 Theogony

I liked the grinding move Tiger Ride made off the layoff in the Inside Information at Gulfstream. She very well could have been a touch short and not to mention there was no catching the very fast, uncontested Stonetastic on a track kind to speed. You have to admire how tactical Ahh Chocolate is. At the 1 1/16th mile distance and farther, she has tracking speed that puts her in a competitive position early.  Given the presence of Mei Ling and Super Majesty, Theogony will be able to put her running style to good use inside. Overall, I think this is a race that might come back to the stalker/closer types and she fits that bill.

Race 10, 4:16 p.m.

Selections: No.  4 Spinamiss, No. 9 Channel Regatta, No. 11 Gone Away

Spinamiss hasn't done much wrong since her stateside debut in December, other than run a bit flat against Catch a Glimpse who came back to take the Grade 3 Edgewood on Oaks day. Think she'll relish the added distance too. The question remains whether Channel Regatta is good enough to compete at this level, but I do think she's an improving 3-year-old with talent. Trainer Hamilton Smith is excellent with horses second off the layoff that won their last start on the turf (4-10, 40 percent and $5.77 ROI/ 60 percent ITM). Gone Away has shown some shining moments in the past. Best case scenario is that she gets a firm course.

Race 11, 4:50 p.m.

Selections: No. 5 Go Maggie Go, No. 3 Land Over Sea, No. 14 Mom's On Strike


Go Maggie Go really got some schooling, stuffed down on the inside of a 14-horse field in the Kentucky Oaks. I think that'll move her forward from an experience standpoint but she also proved that it didn't faze her that much as she regathered and put in a solid final bid. Once Land Over Sea dodged the talented Songbird, she solidified how strong she is in the 3-year-old fillies division. She looks like she's acclimated very well to Pimlico since shipping in from Kentucky. Mom's On Strike is the longshot play here. She was bumped hard out of the gate in debut, fell back, and came with a huge final bid, and galloped out past the field. She has enough early speed to secure a position close to the lead from the outside post.


Race 12, 5:22 p.m.

Selections: No. 11 Metaboss, No. 5. Set to Music, No. 2 Phlash Phelps

There was a lot of hype behind Metaboss on his comeback last time out. I still think he would've galloped in that race but was never given any chance to shine the entirety of the stretch. Hoping for better racing luck today. Have to repeat the consistency of Set to Music no matter the distance or surface. The Delacour barn hits at 27 percent (6-22, $2.49 ROI) with these layoffs going on the turf. Phlash Phelps was gelded just before his MWS win and it seemed to make all the difference. He reeled off consecutive victories and actually ran a very game race off the layoff last out. Respect.

Race 13, 5:54 p.m.

Selections: No. 3 Right There, No. 4 Lost Raven, No. 8 R Girls a Charmer

Looks like there will be a very hot, contested early pace in here so I think it'll go to a closer. Right There cuts back in distance and should be closing late. Here's hoping this distance isn't too short. Even though Lost Raven is fast and won on the lead in the Cicada, I truly believe she has a rating gear. That factor could come into play today. I love the cutback for R Girls a Charmer. Given the immense amount of pace here, she at least has the outside controlling position and should use her speed most effectively at the 6 furlongs.

Race 14, 6:28 p.m.

Selections: No. 6 Outofthedepths, No. 11 Cruise More, No. 5 Annawon

Outofthedepths comes back to a track and surface he's best at. I hope we can see him sit a bit closer than where he's been lately on the turf. Good to see Taylor Hole back in the saddle with this runner as they've found success before in the past. Cruise More will be tough against this level, especially after his last two impressive efforts. Annawon usually doesn't like any give in the turf, so the fact he ran well on "good" turf last of makes me think he'll take a big step forward today.

Best Bet:  Race 7, No 2 Stanford

Price Play: Race 9, No. 10 Tiger Ride

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