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Best Horse Racing Bets Today | Pimlico, May 18

Written by: Brian Zipse
Published May 17, 2024
7 min read

Led by Mystik Dan’s quest to add the second leg of the Triple Crown to his Kentucky Derby victory, Preakness Day at Pimlico serves up an excellent afternoon card full of stakes races. Sent off at 18/1 odds at Churchill Downs, don’t look for that kind of value on the Derby hero this time around as he faces only seven others in the $2 million Preakness Stakes on Saturday at Pimlico.

Supporting the big one will be eight other stakes races, highlighted by the $500,000 Dinner Party Stakes for older turf males. I will also offer my best bets in a pair of graded stakes sprints early in the card to pad the bankroll, before we get to Mystik Dan, Catching Freedom, Imagination, and Tuscan Gold in the Preakness. Without further ado, let’s get to my analysis and best bets for the four graded stakes races.

Pimlico Horse Race Ground Horse Racing Bets May 18

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Race #6 Chick Lang Stakes (Grade 3) $200,000 6-Furlongs Dirt - 1:28pm EST

Second and third in a pair of stakes races at Oaklawn Park, Frost Free rates top billing among a field of eight sophomore sprinters entered in the Grade 3 Chick Lang Stakes on Saturday at Pimlico. 

Trained by Brett Creighton, the gray son of Frosted was an impressive allowance winner in Arkansas before finishing behind good horses when third in the Hot Springs and second in the Bachelor most recently. A speed horse, he figures to go right for the lead in the 6-furlong race, but should have company on the front end.

Another who has plenty of early speed is the second choice on the morning line, Mr Skylight. Making his stakes debut on Saturday, the Practical Joke colt has won two straight after running second in his career debut. Most recently, he was a game allowance winner at Keeneland four weeks ago for young trainer Riley Mott.

If the early pace is too hot early, Catahoula Moon is one who could be finishing strongly. A son of Golden Lad, he has finished first or second seven times and comes in off a sharp allowance win at Laurel. Still, it is hard to look past the good stakes experience of Frost Free. He is the class of the race and is my top pick.

My Play

  • $10 Exacta Part Wheel - Frost Free over Mr Skylight, Catahoula Moon, and Cats by Five = $30

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Race #8 Maryland Sprint Stakes (Grade 3) $100,000 6-Furlongs Dirt - 2:48pm EST

Coming off a romping win over allowance company last time at Keeneland, Prevalence has been made the morning line favorite in a wide open field of seven older male sprinters in Saturday’s Grade 3 Maryland Sprint Stakes at Pimlico.

Trained by Brendan Walsh, the 6-year-old son of Medaglia d’Oro has not been the most consistent horse over the years, but when he is good, he is a talented sprinter. Second in this race last year, he also won the Grade 3 Commonwealth Stakes at Keeneland two seasons ago. His most recent victory was his first win since that score 25 months ago.

Second choice on the morning line is the Charles Town-based Coastal Mission. A winner of 12-of-19 lifetime, the 5-year-old gelding got up to win by a nose in the 7-furlong Frank Whiteley Stakes over Prince of Jericho last time out. This will be his first try at the 6-furlong distance in more than a year.

Second in the Chick Lang last year as a 3-year-old, Prince of Jericho is back to see if he can do one better on Preakness Day this year. The consistent son of Munnings has had two races this year and battled right to the wire in both. Those sharp performances should have him ready for his best in his third start of the year. Trained by Brittany Russell, he is my top pick.

My Play

  • $20 Win & Place - Prince of Jericho = $40

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Race #12 Dinner Party Stakes (Grade 3) $500,000 1 1/8-Miles Turf - 5:52pm EST

A five-time graded stakes winner, the classy Emmanuel looks to add to his growing list of credentials when he headlines a field of 12 older turf males in the $500,000 Dinner Party Stakes on Saturday at Pimlico.

Trained by Todd Pletcher, the 5-year-old son of More Than Ready has won exactly half of his 14 lifetime starts. He won the Grade 3 Canadian Turf at Gulfstream Park to begin 2024, but finished fifth last time out. That effort came on a yielding turf at Keeneland and against top Grade 1 company. Dropped down in class for this one, he looks like the horse to beat.

Chief among his competition in this 9-furlong affair is the Chad Brown-trained Running Bee. The 5-year-old English Channel horse is lightly raced, but has been in strong form since returning to the races last fall. Most recently, he wore down his competition in a salty allowance race at Keeneland. A little rain to soften up the turf course should not hurt his chances here. 

It’s hard to dismiss a number of others in the field, but the consistent form of Beatbox should not be disregarded. The late-running son of Pioneerof the Nile fires every time of late and comes in off a series of solid efforts in New Orleans for trainer Cherie DeVaux. With rain in the forecast, however, I believe that will help Running Bee more than Emmanuel and Beatbox. He is my top pick in the Dinner Party.

My Play 

  • $40 Win - Running Bee = $40

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Race #13 Preakness Stakes (Grade 1) $2,000,000 1 3/16-Miles Dirt - 7:01pm EST

One of my top two longshots for the Kentucky Derby, there will be little value this time around on Mystik Dan following the scratch of Muth in the Grade 1 Preakness Stakes. If he is successful, he will move on to the Belmont Stakes three weeks later for a chance to join the immortal fraternity of Triple Crown winners.

First things first, though, and Mystik Dan is no sure thing in the 1 3/16 Middle Jewel on Saturday at Pimlico. Trained by Kenny McPeek and ridden by Brian Hernandez, Jr., he has proven to be very good in his three career wins, but in his four losses, he has fallen short of stellar. He will need to be at his best again to win here.

Standing in his way in Baltimore will be the trio of Catching Freedom, the Louisiana Derby winner who was fourth in the Kentucky Derby; Imagination, runner up in the Santa Derby in his most recent start; and Tuscan Gold, who was third in the Louisiana Derby in only his third career start. 

Of the three, I prefer Catching Freedom, who runs nothing but good races. A two-time stakes winner this year for trainer Brad Cox, he is proven at the distance and has the strongest closing kick in the field. It will be easy to root for Mystik Dan after his upset win in the Kentucky Derby, which brought me a nice payday, but I believe Catching Freedom will prove best down the Pimlico stretch this time around. He is the top pick.

My Plays

  • $20 Exacta Box - Catching Freedom and Mystik Dan = $40 

  • $5 Trifecta Part Wheel - Catching Freedom and Mystik Dan over Catching Freedom, Mystik Dan, and Tuscan Gold over Catching Freedom, Mystik Dan, Tuscan Gold, Uncle Heavy, and Imagination = $60 

  • $1 Superfecta Part Wheel - Catching Freedom over Mystik Dan, Tuscan Gold, Uncle Heavy, and Imagination over Mystik Dan, Tuscan Gold, Uncle Heavy, and Imagination over Mystik Dan, Tuscan Gold, Uncle Heavy, Imagination, Seize the Grey, and Just Steel = $48

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Image for Brian Zipse

Brian Zipse

Horse Racing Betting Analyst

Expertise:
Horse Racing
Betting Picks
Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.
Nationality: American
Education: Bachelor of Communications
Favourite Sportsbook: FanDuel Sportsbook
Favourite Casino: BetMGM Casino
Experience:
15 years
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