Handicapper Blog

Posted by Brian Skirka on Thursday, May 17, 2012 6:47 PM

The second jewel of the Triple Crown is this Saturday which means we are less than one day away from the start of another tremendous “back-to-back racing days of fun”.  To a handicapper – at least to me – there are few things more exciting than back-to-back days like we had with Oaks/Derby or, in this case, Black Eyed Susan/Preakness.  There are just so many good races over a 48-hour period.  


How about some early impressions from my initial looks through the PPs?  By no means do I guarantee I won’t change my mind, but here’s where my head’s at now.  (If I’m being really honest, I’m not quite sure the location of my head right now, so maybe take the following with a grain of salt!)


…There certainly is some speed on paper on the Skipat on Friday (Race 6).  These ladies are sure to be smoking early.  Maybe Bold Affair can sit the trip right in behind.


…I’m usually not a big fan of jumping on the bandwagon of horses that other people are talking about, but I admit I did just that for Millionreasonswhy (Miss Preakness – Friday, Race 8) in her last race at Aqueduct.  This girl can run.  I definitely liked what I saw when I went back and watched her previous races.  Not sure if there’s anyone to soften up Agave Kiss though.  Say a Novena can get a piece at a big price.


…Definitely giving Ben’s Cat a mulligan in the Turf Sprint (Friday, Race 10).  He was one of the best at this game last year and had traffic in his last.  If he runs here, Fiddlers Patriot has shown he can run well off a layoff.


…Wouldn’t be surprised for a second is big favorite Mamma Kimbo goes wire-to-wire in the Black Eyed Susan (Friday, Race 10), but may try to upset with Welcome Guest.  That was a good second last time going from a maiden race to a G3 behind the eventual KY Oaks runner-up.


…In the Pimlico Special (Friday, Race 12), is it me or does Alternation look like a monster at Oaklawn and just okay everywhere else?  Mission Impazible isn’t a win machine.  Hymn Book has never won on fast dirt.  Maybe this is the race to try a longshot.  Endorsement’s Beyers are going in the right direction.  Maybe even Yawanna Twist, who very rarely runs a bad one and had some weird traffic arrangements before his most recent start at Oaklawn.


…I said it on KY Oaks day when she was scratched, but in the Hilltop (Friday, Race 13), Anna Sophia is the hunch bet of all time.  I’m still just leaving it at that.


With hopefully some money left in our pockets, let’s look ahead to Saturday’s card.


…No real standouts in the Maryland Sprint (Race 8), but I don’t like the morning-line favorite Hamazing Destiny.  I know Immortal Eyes very well and if he’s the same horse this year as he was last year he’ll give a good account of himself.  The rail’s not the best draw for him, but there’s not a ton of pace in here for a graded six-furlong race.  Wildcat Brief didn’t have a chance to run more than a couple furlongs last week and it’s interesting to see him show up here…with Ramon Dominguez.


…Have no brain-shattering insight into the James W. Murphy (Race 9), but it is the start of a $1,000,000 guaranteed Pick 4.  I like that!


…No real standouts in the Allaire Dupont Distaff (Race 10), but I don’t like morning-line favorite Absinthe Minded.  (Wait a minute, that sounds familiar).  Maybe the Baffert-trained Awesomemundo from just off of it.


…The Dixie (Race 11) is always one of my favorite races of the year to bet.  Hudson Steele has my respect if he runs here but I also have eyes on Straight Story and Trend.  (That isn’t implying I have three eyes is it?)  I miss not seeing Einstein’s name among the Dixie entrants.


…In the Preakness (Race 12), can Bodemeister run the same race he did two weeks ago?  If he can, then he’ll win and that makes everything a lot easier.  If not, then we may have a mess on our hands.  Maybe it’s just me, but I think I would be pretty close to stunned if a horse that did not run in the KY Derby wins the Preakness.


I guess that’ll do it.  Best of luck. 


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Brian Skirka graduated from Rutgers University in 2007 with a degree in journalism. He currently works for Monmouth Park’s marketing and publicity departments and is in his fifth year working at the track. In the past, Brian’s work has also been published on www.thebigm.com and www.ntra.com.