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Scott Shapiro: Black-Eyed Susan / Preakness Doubles

by Scott Shapiro

May 15, 2024

I absolutely adore horizontal wagers, especially on big days when the options in leveraging your strongest opinions are seemingly unlimited. However, sometimes a good old-fashioned Daily Double is the best decision. I definitely will be diving into the 12% takeout Two-Day Pick 5’s this weekend, but also want to press up on my opinions in Pimlico's two featured races with the Black-Eyed Susan/Preakness Daily Double.

Grade Descriptions: Grade A=Highest degree of confidence; Grade B=Solid Play. Grade C=Least preferred or pass; Grade X=probable winner but likely at odds too short to play.

Friday, Race 13: The Black-Eyed Susan Stakes
Grade: B
Main Ticket: 4 Call Another Play
Backups: 5 Gun Song

Forecast: This year’s Black-Eyed Susan (G2) appears wide-open with Southern California import #7 Corposo listed as the 5-2 choice. The Vino Rosso filly has certainly taken a step forward since stretching out to two turns, but is a pass for me at anything close to the 5-2-morning line. The Peter Eurton trainee got a perfect trip off of odds-on Bonaqua in her lone victory back in March and was able to prevail by a nose. The race came back fast, but it is important to note that Bonaqua has lost at 6-5 or less in three consecutive starts. Corposo was in chase mode in the Santa Anita Oaks (G2), so not going to hold that well-beaten third against her too much, but she nonetheless feels like a vulnerable favorite in the “Run for the Black-Eyed Susans.”

#3 Lemon Muffin and #8 Recharge appear the likeliest alternatives, but I am against them as well. Lemon Muffin put in some solid efforts this winter in Arkansas, but her last couple have been underwhelming. Sure, she was beaten out of the gate and never truly comfortable in the Kentucky Oaks, but she was badly outclassed as well. I expect the Lukas filly to be an underlay. Recharge has some upside entering Friday 3 for 4, but she has encountered soft groups in the Southwest before battling early and tiring late in the Fantasy (G2) in late March.

#5 Gun Song is intriguing for Mark Hennig. The Gun Runner filly was beaten out of the gate and in a bit tight early in her stalk & fade effort in the Gulfstream Park Oaks in late March. She needs to prove she can handle two-turns still, but she could get a favorable trip under Hall of Famer John Velazquez. #4 Call Another Play intrigues most, especially given likely price. The Michael Trombetta filly has moved forward at a nice pace since adding blinkers last December and should get a good setup for her off the pace style. Anything close to 8-1 is more than fair!

Saturday, Race 13: The Preakness Stakes
Grade: B
Main Ticket: 7 Just Steel; 5 Mystik Dan
Backups: 3 Catching Freedom; 8 Tuscan Gold

Forecast: The second leg of the Triple Crown came together nicely with both Kentucky Derby winner #5 Mystik Dan and fourth place finisher #3 Catching Freedom both making the decision to run prior to Monday’s draw. They had legitimate chances before the scratch of morning line favorite #4 Muth, but significantly better now that the Arkansas Derby winner is out after spiking a fever Tuesday night. Not only is the Preakness more wide-open without the pricey son of Good Magic, but the early tempo becomes murkier without the likely pacesetter.

#7 Just Steel is unlikely to get an overly aggressive ride from Joel Rosario, but he should find himself involved early with the lack of speed signed on. The Justify colt surprisingly got cooked up in the early Derby pace, but has done most of his best running from an early stalking position. Other than his speed and fade effort in the Derby, Just Steel has been extremely consistent as a three-year-old. His only other out of the money finish came when he was caught impossibly wide throughout in the Rebel (G2). I will build my 2024 Preakness wagers around the D. Wayne Lukas trainee.

Kentucky Derby winner #5 Mystik Dan took advantage of his ground saving trip on the first Saturday in May and comes back on two weeks rest after running hard in Louisville. That said, I am not overly concerned with regression since he did not perform well over his head from a figures perspective in the Derby. Plus, he becomes that much tougher if Baltimore gets the rain that looks possible a few days out. The main concern other than potentially sitting off a dawdling early pace is his price with Muth out.

Catching Freedom must be doing well to be wheeled back by trainer Brad Cox. The late running son of Constitution should be finishing with energy, but lacks early speed and is extremely unlikely to get a favorable setup. #8 Tuscan Gold has not raced since late March when he was caught wide throughout in the Louisiana Derby (G2), yet still fought on to the wire to finish third. With the lack of early zip signed on, do not be surprised if Tyler Gaffalione has this Medaglia d’Oro colt up closer to the pace than it may look on paper.

Good luck!