This Saturday URC Kentucky Derby winner Yamaha will look to win the second leg of the URC Triple Crown in Maryland as he takes on twelve challengers in the URC Preakness Stakes. The son of Empire Maker is a co-second favorite at 5/1 as he is the star runner in an interesting field that sees five horses with single-digit odds and eight viewed by the oddsmakers as longshots.
The Top Five
Most trainers in this race will be cheering for two horses, their own and Yamaha. As noted, he is an Empire Maker out of an Uncle Mo mare who looks to have some juice. Yamaha was her first runner and her second is a winner even though her sire is by someone named Superestrella. Yamaha has had N Lawton up in the irons the last two races but we have a mount switch here at Pimlico with the highly capable GD Mate getting the ride. There really isn’t anything to dislike about this colt right now and if I had to pick at his chances I would point out that this will be his third races in 33 days which will be a test for his conditioning.
The 4/1 favorite in the race is a son of Uncle Mo, Princeofgladstone who is lightly raced with four starts, two of them being wins with one of those a stakes victory. Prince is coming off a 103 SP winning by two at 9-furlongs. He is a scratch bred being paired with Unbridled and Secretariat so he is bringing a loaded pedigree into the gate. Extremely dangerous he is coming in rested having not run since April 14th. You may quibble with the morning line and feel that the Derby winner should be the favorite, but there is a ton to like in this colt and it would be no surprise if he won. An interesting race may develop if the top two horses continue their form from their last race. Prince went to the front and ran the rest of the field into the ground. Yamaha took over the lead at the half-mile marker in the Derby and ran clear to the finish. These two could be going at each other eye for Saturday.
Also sent out at 5/1 like Yamaha is the Mineshaft stakes winner Starter. Starter ran in the URC Derby and I covered him there tagging the colt as a sprinter. He made a closing run in the Derby and that was enough to earn him another chance in a route despite his 0-3 record and never having finished on the board past a mile. He posted a 97 and a 4rh place finish Derby day. Trainer Rob is banking on the cut from 10 to 9.5 will be beneficial to his colt and it very well may. Could Princeofgladstone and Yamaha burn each out on the front and Starter make a winning run? The 5/1 morning line certainly seems to indicate that this is a possibility.
Based on Facts is another young gun entering the mix who will be making his stakes debut in this race. The scratch bred son of Quality Road is 3-2-1 lifetime and just posted a 100 SP in his first career route which was 9-furlongs. Emerging superstar sire Quality Road was paired with a monster backend of A.P. Indy x War Front so as you can see URC Breeders really have sent some blue-blooded pedigrees into this race. You can never be sure how a horse will handle its stakes debut and that is likely the hesitation in the oddsmakers who have sent Based on Facts off at 8/1. He is going to be the wise guy horse and offers a lot of value. Plenty of room to move forward off his 100, he relishes this distance and there is every indication that he will have a say in who wins this race. With so few starts it is hard to get a sense of his running style and may depend on how Lawton, who jumped off Yamaha to ride him, uses the horse. Has tactical speed that can be used depending on the pace.
The last of the single digit horses is 9/1 runner Deckon Thar who will represent Arrogate and me. I like how pedigree symmetry seems to show up. Yamaha is out of an Uncle Mo mare and Princeofgladstone is an Uncle Mo. Starter is a Mineshaft and Deckon Thar is out of a Mineshaft mare. Deckon Thar ran well in his three prep races this year finishing 2nd, 2nd, and 1st last time out with a 103 SP at today’s distance of 9.5-furlongs. In fact, Deckon Thar has run his last two races at 9.5 which isn’t always ideal (unless that happens to be the zone for the horse). The 103 is tied with tops for the field with Princeofgladstone. Deckon Thar ran 3rd in the GR Simsters Juvy last year so he has some stakes experience. Whether he can build upon that and score his first black-type victory Saturday remains to be seen. Like all of these except closer Starter he has tactical speed and should be forwardly placed looking to take over coming for home if he is good enough.
The rest of the field will run at double-digit odds but that can be misleading since one horse is 10/1 and four are 12/1. We certainly could see a winner from this group and the more we look at this field in Maryland the more I am convinced this will be a more difficult race than the Derby.
Distorted Humor son Pineapple King is no doubt giving his connections fits. He won his debut and has lost his last 5 although the last race, a closing 98 at 8.5 gave a reason for some optimism. He is the first son of G3 winning Awesome Again mare Hawaiian Again who the Bluegrass Oaks prep Davola Dale at a mile. Pineapple King has never run past 8.5 and there are some decent indications that he will like going longer. He finished 11th out of 20 in his stakes debut in the URC Juvy but he has an off-track excuse for that one if he needs it which doesn’t help since rain is in the forecast. He can win this if he builds on that 98. Some value at 10/1 but I’d rather make a distance bet on a different longer shot.
We know what Exaggerator did in the slop winning the Preakness over Nyquist, will that result be replicated Saturday for his son Fionia Holiday? I think the wet track will help but this horse is a sprinter. He finished last two back at 9-furlongs dropping 12 SP when he went from 8 to 9 and both races were in stakes company so it wasn’t a class issue. Fionia has never been off the board in sprints going 5-3-2. Harlan’s Holiday in the DS spot re-enforces that belief for me. A fine looking horse I just don’t think this distance will suit him. Not a 12/1 I like.
While We Wait is the type of horse that will drive handicappers crazy. He has so many good factors going for him you start wondering why is he 12/1? First, he is the son of G1 winner Livvi’s Lass, daughter of Roar. Second, he has won half his starts and never been off the board posting a 6-3-2-1 record. He has won his last two and has increased his SP in every single one of his starts. What isn’t to like about this son of Majesticperfection? Well, Livvi’s Lass has only produced one stakes winner from twelve breedings. And while he is 1/1 in routes, he has never been past 8.25 furlongs. That 8.25-furlong race, which was last time out is confusing for the handicapper in its own right. While We Wait posted a career-high 101 SP but appeared to fade some toward the end or maybe he was just under a hand ride. Anything could happen with him Saturday and he is my favorite of all the longer shots.
Franklin Hills, the second Distorted Humor son in the field, could be one of those remarkable success stories. He was just claimed in a 125K Maiden Claimer in February (which he won) and then went on to win his first try at a 2L a 97 at 8.5-furlongs. There could be class issues here but not due to a lack of pedigree. Franklin Hills is out of the stakes-winning Medaglia d’Oro mare Los Feliz. Another from the 12/1 group the horse is on a winning streak, has the pedigree to win this race and may find himself relatively traffic free running mid-pack.
Our last 12/1 entry is Bodemeister son Waltham Cross. His proclivity to run in HOT races (3 of his 7 starts) makes gauging his ability difficult. He ran well in a 9-furlong HOT but didn’t run fast (although he finished 4th) in 9-furlong stakes. He has run two straight at 9 (again, both in HOTs) finishing 1st and 2nd so this might have been clever training putting some solid foundation under the young colt. I can’t really make a prognostication because of this however so he is a wait and see.
You get a stakes winner in 14/1 shot Four Star A.P. and he represents last year’s freshman sire sensation Game A.P., a relatively obscure son of Indy who rose to some prominence with his SIM success. That success was certainly embodied in Four Star who won the URC Juvy and that was a 20-horse field so that is a legit win. That also occurred on a sloppy track where he is 1/1 so keep that in mind. That said, he has been beaten badly in his last two, losing by 10+ in 8.5 stakes last out and then losing by 14 with an 82 SP at today’s distance. I can’t shake that performance.
We saw an unraced Giant’s Causeway maiden in the URC Derby and we have a once raced Giant’s Causeway maiden in today’s race in Giantspit. Scratch-bred with a loaded Pulpit x Nuryev pedigree, Giantspit ran a 85 SP beaten by 12 eleven days ago. That’s one fast MSW. But wait you say, it wasn’t an MSW – correct it was an open ALW where the winner ran a 106. I’m not sure why you’d debut a maiden in an open allowance as a 3yo, hoping it was an administrative error as the MSW fields for 3yos are actually lightening up this time of year. I don’t recommend a horse of this pedigree starting its career in these two races but maybe I will be proven wrong and it will forge some steel into his spine. 22/1 and that is helped by the pedigree.
Finally, the last horse in the field at the longest odds is Mr. Lentenor who is 25/1. A son of Lentenor, he is 1-5 and has never routed in his career. He ran his career-high SP and broke his maiden at the longest distance he has attempted, 7.5. I believe we have reason to assume he will get better running past a mile and if he improves on the 96 SP he ran at 7.5 he is in the ballpark of the time needed to win. You may not have heard of Lentenor (a son of Dynaformer) but his scratch-bred back end is no joke with Miswaki x Mr. Prospector. I don’t know if this horse can win the race but I think he is going to run well and at 25/1 has the potential to blow up the trifecta.
I believe you can make a case for any of Yamaha, Princeofgladstone, Deckon Thar and Based on Facts. While We Wait has the potential to crash the party and Mr. Lentenor is an exciting wild card. The URC brought many expensive dirt stallions in the USA to this race in the likes of Empire Maker, Distorted Humor (twice), Arrogate, Uncle Mo, Giant’s Causeway, Quality Road – and Exaggerator, Bodemeister and Mineshaft are no slouches either. This is going to be a fast race, this is going to be a good race, and we should see a thrilling stretch run. Yamaha will have to earn this one as the residency isn’t making it easy for him to pick up the second jewel of the crown.