ESPN Horse Racing

Handicapping the Preakness Day stakes
By Rich Podolsky
Special to

Like the Kentucky Derby undercard, the Preakness undercard also features four graded stakes and a Pick-4 with a half-million-dollar guarantee. The Pick-4 begins with Race 9 and concludes with the Preakness Stakes, Race 12. Here's my analysis of the Preakness undercard.

Maryland Breeders Cup Handicap (Race 4)
Crossing Point came back from an eight-week layoff with a bang, winning a five-furlong stake at Mountaineer by 5 lengths. Figures to be the speed of the speed and would benefit if trainer Mark Shuman scratches one of his two speedballs in his three-pronged entry. Shuman's non-speedball is Highway Prospector who closed fast on the speed favoring Gulfstream Park strip and has consistently high Beyer speed figures. Sassy Hound shows up every time and is usually right there, in the money in 13 of his last 15.

The Deputy is Home split decisions with the latter. Shah Jehan, though lacking strong Beyers, has faced much better without embarrassing himself and gets Gary Stevens.

Gallorette Handicap (Race 7)
This race closes out a guaranteed $200,00 Pick-4 that began with Race 4. Although she's been away seven months and has a style not perfectly suited for this turf course, Riskaverse may be able to win off the bench on class alone. Gets Edgar Prado to ride and should fly by them all late. Katzen, away eight months, is four for five on the turf and comes into this with a bullet workout May 4th.

Sarnac Lake, a Grade 3 winner in Europe, seems to be improving of late and has trainer Bill Mott and rider Jerry Bailey going for her. She may be the one to beat. Vespers appears to be sharp now off an eight-week freshening and will be a strong stretch threat. Media Access likes the course and is in a hot barn. Lady Linda loves the course but is compromised by post 13.

Sir Barton Stakes (Race 9)
During is very fast and trainer Bob Baffert toyed with starting him in the Preakness. He has a narrow loss to Atswhatimtalknbout and is today's best bet. In his last race he was stuck on the rail in the mud against Empire Maker and Funny Cide.

The Linda Rice-trained Get Smarter is improving fast and looks second best, but may run instead in Pimlico's 6th race today, a six furlong event, for which he is cross-entered. Penoscot Bay was a solid second in the Federico Tesio behind Cherokee's Boy on this course. Sky Soldier could get a piece.

Citgo Dixie (Race 10)
Sarafan might be today's best bet if he weren't returning from a four-month vacation. Before that he lost the $3.8 million dollar Japan Cup by a nose and the $2.3 million dollar Hong Kong Cup by less than a length. Both were Grade I races. In Grade I races here last year he won the Eddie Read and was second a head behind Beat Hollow in the Arlington Million. Working very well for his return, he's the obvious choice here.

Del Mar Show is another from Mott and Bailey and could be alone on the lead and dangerous. He was in the thick of it in the Breeders Cup Mile. Blue Steller, a Bobby Frankel trained closer, has showed well in graded company against the likes of Sarafan. Dr. Kashnikow needs a fast pace to make his late charge meaningful.

W.D. Schaefer Handicap (Race 11)
Roger E is the lone speed in a race packed with closers and should hold on. He also has the highest recent speed figures. Tempest Fugit can track the latter's speed and pick up the pieces if the frontrunner falters. His last was a nice third behind Classic Endeavor and Balto Star in a Grade 3 event at Aqueduct.

Strive owns a sold second behind the pick and a third to top class Mineshaft recently. He also gets the services of Jerry Bailey, almost always a plus. P Day may get the first run at Roger E and has won four of his last five starts. Though Windsor Castle shows high Beyers as recently as February, his last two indicate he might be tailing off.

Preakness Stakes (Race 12)
Funny Cide should be able to track Peace Rules and make a winning move on the second turn despite the wide post position. Scrimshaw, got a nightmarish trip in the Derby, but may get a perfect trip in the Preakness for Wayne Lucas. Peace Rules is the one to beat but may have been spent after fighting someone every step of the Derby distance.

Kissin Saint is being brought along nicely by Lisa Lewis and wouldn't surprise us if he finished as high as second. Ten Cents a Shine may finally wake up under Bailey. Foufa's Warrior closed well in his last pair and could certainly fill out an exotic. Trainer Baffert says Senor Swinger isn't there mentally yet and may be better on grass.

Here's our crack at a $1 Pick-4 for races 9 through 12: Total cost is $9.
Race 9: During
Race 10: Sarafan, Del Mar Show, Blue Steller
Race 11: Roger E, Tempest Fugit, Strive
Race 12: Funny Cide