Chick Lang Stakes Odds & More Pimlico Graded Races

The G1 Preakness may be front and centre at Pimlico on Saturday, but there is plenty going on in the background. On the main track, the consistent pair Havnameltdown and Super Chow take each other on in the G3 Chick Lang Stakes before a solid field of speed merchants rev up for the G3 Maryland Sprint, while on the lawn G1 winner Atone bids to bounce back to his best in the G3 Dinner Party and a close-knit field of distaffers, led by Vergara and Whitebeam, go head-to-head in the G3 Gallorette.

Preakness Stakes Odds

Chick Lang Stakes

G3, $200,000, 6f dirt, 3yo, 1.29pm ET

Bob Baffert rolls out some of his big guns at Pimlico over the weekend, with Faiza and National Treasure for the main events, and he also sends out a sharp-shooter in the Chick Lang, the highlight of a stakes-heavy undercard at ‘Old Hilltop’ on Saturday.

His representative is the consistent and talented Havnameltdown (8-5), who has never finished out of the first two in six starts, and trailblazed his way to victory in the G3 Best Pal and G3 Bob Hope at Del Mar last year, adding the G2 San Vicente over seven furlongs at Santa Anita on his first start of 2023.

Havnameltdown was then asked to go outside several comfort zones (and timezones) in the G3 Saudi Derby over a mile in Riyadh and did his level best, going from the gun and only headed well inside the last sixteenth, beaten a head with lack of stamina the obvious reason.

He still finished a length and three-quarters ahead of subsequent romping G2 UAE Derby winner Derma Sotogake, and should be back in his element on the front end over six furlongs after a refreshing three-month layoff.

His consistency is equalled by Super Chow (3-1), on the board in all eight starts and only beaten on his two stabs at Graded company, and the form of his runner-up spot in the G3 Swale at Gulfstream Park was gilded when the winner General Jim followed up in the G2 Pat Day Mile.

Super Chow’s subsequent success in a four-runner six-furlong stakes at Gulfstream Park doesn’t cut a lot of ice, but he’s another pace angle and may still be upgrading.

Steve Asmussen has won this a record five times and relies on Ryvit (7-2), who is hunting a four-timer after making sustained improvement at Oaklawn Park this spring, culminating in an all-the-way score in a six-furlong stakes, coasting by two lengths. He could move up again, although he’s been winning on Lasix and goes clean today.

These three look a class apart from the remainder, headed by Prince Of Jericho (9-2), who leaves Laurel Park for the first time after disappointing when sixth in a mile-eighth stakes behind Preakness contender Perform. He’ll be happy to cut back but may not be ready for this class hike, while Frosted Departure (8-1) is zero-for-five at Graded level and just two weeks ago ran fourth behind General Jim in the aforementioned 2023 Pat Day Mile at Churchill Downs, giving him ground to make up on Super Chow.

Coincidentally, Prove Right (15-1) is also zero-for-five in Graded stakes (zero-for-eight in stakes) and along with stakes debutant Bristol Channel (50-1) makes little appeal.

Chick Lang Stakes Odds & Betting Pick

The return to sprinting is exactly what HAVNAMELTDOWN wants, and his trailblazing tactics – allied to a distinct class edge over his rivals – can pay off again.

HavnameltdownLuis Saez+160
RyvitKeith J. Asmussen+350
Frosted DepartureFlavien Prat+800
Bristol ChannelJuan Mauricio Nunez+5000
Super ChowPaco Lopez+300
Prove RightJeiron Barbosa+1500
Prince of JerichoSheldon Russell+450

Dinner Party Stakes

G3, $200,000, 1m 1f turf, 3yo+, 2.49pm ET

The turf division in the US is weak at present, with no hierarchy developed – apart from recent G1 winner Up To The Mark, possibly – and that leaves the Dinner Party in a state of flux, up for grabs for any horse who can rise to the occasion.

The morning-line choice is Atone (9-5), who earns that distinction for his victory in the G1 Pegasus World Cup Turf over a mile-eighth at Gulfstream Park, his stakes breakthrough after a long, long time knocking on the door including when third in this race 12 months ago. He finished off his race like a rocket, surging late to win by three-quarters of a length with fellow closer Speaking Scout (6-1) third, a length and a half further back, and Hurricane Dream (7-2) not beaten that far in a hyper-blanket finish when tenth on his US debut.

The trouble with Atone is his inconsistency. Next time out he ran a dreadful race when last of nine at odds-on in the G2 Muniz Memorial Classic at the Fair Grounds – he is not one to trust at short odds.

Speaking Scout and Hurricane Dream head a trio from Graham Motion’s barn, and Speaking Scout may not have been suited by the cutback when a longshot fifth in the G1 Maker’s Mark Mile at Keeneland next time, with Emmanuel (7-2) three-quarters of a length behind in seventh.

He’ll relish stretching out again, while Hurricane Dream – runner-up at G2 and G3 level on soft turf in Europe – clicked in a big way when romping in an allowance at Keeneland over a mile-sixteenth next time, but first-time Lasix could have been the reason. Motion’s third-string Easter (10-1) won an allowance at Aqueduct over a mile last month and will be sharper for that first start in ten months, but lacks class and was rated some way inferior to Hurricane Dream in Europe.

The aforementioned Emmanuel started 2023 well with wins over a mile-sixteenth in the G3 Tampa Bay and the G3 Canadian Turf at Gulfstream, but his shortcomings came to the fore again when he ran no race in the Maker’s Mark Mile. It’s clear he’s not a G1 horse, but he’ll always be a threat at this level and would be a big player if on a going day.

Rising Empire (8-1) was runner-up in that Muniz Memorial Classic on his stakes debut, leading until caught at the eighth-pole, but then patently failed to stay in the G2 Elkhorn over a mile and a half at Keeneland. The cutback may help him rebound, but stakes debutant Never Explain (10-1) is hard to like despite wins in Tampa Bay Downs allowances on his last two starts.

Dinner Party Stakes Odds & Betting Prediction

Much more open than the morning-line suggests, and it may be worth siding with EMMANUEL, whose recent G1 blowout can be overlooked now he’s back at the right level.

AtoneTyler Gaffalione+180
Speaking ScoutLuis Saez+600
Easter (FR)Javier Castellano+1000
Hurricane Dream (FR)Joel Rosario+350
Rising EmpireJohn R. Velazquez+800
Never ExplainFlavien Prat+1000
EmmanuelIrad Ortiz, Jr.+350

Gallorette Stakes

G3, $100,000, 1m 1/16 turf, 3yo+ females, 2.08pm ET

Graham Motion is emptying his barn of turf runners this weekend, sending three for the Dinner Party and busy with another triple threat in the Gallorette, a race he has won on three occasions.

His challenge is spearheaded by the comebacking Vergara (7-2), who has been on the sidelines for seven months since producing arguably a career-best when runner-up in the mile-eighth G2 Sands Point at Aqueduct, with Eminent Victor (4-1) a length and a quarter back in third, doing her best work late but not enough of it.

Vergara stuck willingly to her task there to finish a length behind Skims, who she had previously beaten by a head in a stakes at Kentucky Downs, and is a solid performer at this level who could probably use this cutback first time back.

Motion’s second-string is the Italian import Sopran Basilea (4-1), who has been absent for a similar length of time since narrowly missing out in a ten-furlong G2 in Rome, when she seemed to have the race won but got caught in the last three jumps and beaten a neck. Italian form is weak on a global stage and this is quite a cutback for the mare, whose best form has been on soft turf.

Her barnmate Bipartisanship (8-1) is inconsistent and would need to show more than she did when winning a stakes at Del Mar over a mile in November.

As might be expected, Chad Brown holds the record in the Gallorette with four wins, and he will always be a force in these distaff races on turf. He leads with the British import Whitebeam (3-1), who showed considerable promise on her debut Stateside when runner-up in a mile stakes at Aqueduct, rallying strongly but coming up a neck short at the wire.

She has a fast pedigree but should be okay with this extra yardage, while her barnmate Eminent Victor ended her 2022 campaign under a cloud when a never-in-it sixth in a stakes at Aqueduct, but would have claims on her earlier form behind Vergara (see above).

Princess Theorem (9-2) has been in the form of her life at Gulfstream Park in 2023, beaten only a length when third in the G3 Honey Fox over a mile and then runner-up in a stakes over a mile-sixteenth, just a neck short at the wire.

If she can bring that form north she will be right in the mix, but fellow Gulfstream habitue Traffic Song (12-1) has run eighth and tenth on her two starts in stakes and looks out of her depth.

Gallorete Stakes Odds & Betting Pick

Following a US debut full of promise, the ex-British WHITEBEAM can build on that experience and take this class hike and longer distance in her stride.

Whitebeam (GB)Irad Ortiz, Jr.+300
Sopran Basilea (IRE)Luis Saez+400
Traffic SongJorge Ruiz+1200
Eminent VictorFlavien Prat+400
VergaraJoel Rosario+350
Bipartisanship (GB)John R. Velazquez+800
Princess TheoremTyler Gaffalione+450

Maryland Sprint

G3, $100,000, 6f dirt, 3yo+, 4.53pm ET

The Maryland Sprint is a proper test for bettors, a good-sized field of welterweight speedsters who can all be given some kind of shot in a race in which pace and racing luck have as much part to play as ability.

The morning-line puts Nakatomi (5-2) on top, largely on the basis of his trainer’s renown in this type of race. Nakatomi has talent but has only one stakes win to show for it, and he took his winless streak at Graded level to six when a never-dangerous fourth in last month’s G3 Commonwealth at Keeneland over seven furlongs.

Today’s cutback is a positive, but he’ll probably need a career-best to get this done and that’s not really what you want from a favourite.

It may not have been much of a race, but the way Straight No Chaser (3-1) tore up a six-furlong allowance at Oaklawn Park last month, gate-to-wire by seven and a quarter lengths, makes him of major interest. He’s upgrading nicely but all his three wins have come with Lasix, and he’s clean here.

Brittany Russell puts two in the gate with Wondrwherecraigis (4-1) her best shot given his two-for-three record over course and distance (runner-up the other time). He regained the winning thread in an allowance at Laurel Park last month, his first start off a seven-month layoff – War Tocsin (30-1) seventh, beaten six and a half lengths and on a 20-race losing streak – and should move up from that.

His barnmate Hello Hot Rod (10-1) struggled for form over the winter, but showed a little more when runner-up in a seven-furlong stakes at Laurel – Al Loves Josie (10-1) sixth, six and a quarter lengths behind – and could be on his way back, although he’s only one-for-eight in stakes.

At this time last year Prevalence (8-1) was on the up-and-up, with a convincing win in the 2022 G3 Commonwealth at Keeneland behind him and a bright future ahead. Something went wrong, though, and he’s winless in five since then and never even on the board. This year he’s been asked to stretch out and that’s not his game – back over six furlongs, with blinkers applied, with a change of jockey, he gets a final chance at redemption and the alterations could do the trick.

The old-timer Threes Over Deuces (15-1) is very consistent at a lower level and ran the race of his life when runner-up in this 12 months ago, the longshot of six runners but well ahead of War Tocsin in third and Full Authority (12-1) in fifth. It’s possible that he could run above himself again in these circumstances, although it’s a hotter contest this time.

If Willy Boi (15-1) could reproduce the dash that brought him third spot in the six-furlong G1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt at Saratoga last summer he’d be a major player, but he’s looked lacklustre at Tampa Bay Downs the last twice and there are better alternatives today.

Maryland Sprint Odds & Betting Pick

Wide open, so at the likely odds it’s worth giving one more chance to PREVALENCE, who could be revitalised by a shake-up – back to sprints, blinkers, new rider.

Full AuthorityJaime Rodriguez+1200
PrevalenceIrad Ortiz, Jr.+800
Threes Over DeucesJeiron Barbosa+1500
Al Loves JosieXavier Perez+1000
Willy BoiPaco Lopez+1500
War TocsinJohan Rosado+3000
NakatomiTyler Gaffalione+250
Straight No ChaserJohn R. Velazquez+300
Hello Hot RodJevian Toledo+1000
WondrwherecraigisSheldon Russell+400

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