LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 17, 2019) – Each week, the NTRA will provide a guide to the best stakes races in North America and beyond. Races are listed in chronological order (all times Eastern). Full previews when available can be found through the link for each race.
The middle leg of the Triple Crown steals focus this weekend as the 144th edition of the Preakness Stakes takes place May 18 at historic Pimlico Race Course.
NBC Sports will present coverage of the Black-Eyed Susan and its undercard stakes on May 17 from 3-5 p.m. The Preakness Stakes undercard will be broadcast on NBC Sports May 18 from 2-5 p.m. NBC begins its coverage of the Preakness at 5 p.m. with the telecast running until 7:15 p.m.
HRRN will offer coverage of both Black-Eyed Susan and Preakness day with coverage beginning Friday afternoon from 4-6 p.m. HRRN will broadcast the Preakness undercard on Saturday from 3-5 p.m. with coverage of Preakness 144 running from 5-7:30 p.m. Tune into the show live on Sirius 219, XM 201, or online at horseracingradio.net.
Friday May 17
3:13 p.m.—$150,000 Grade 3 Miss Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on NBC Sports and TVG
Trainer Brad Cox has Owendale and Warrior’s Charge running in Saturday’s 144th Preakness Stakes but first, he hopes to kick-start a potentially huge weekend Friday with Covfefe in the $150,000 Miss Preakness. LNJ Foxwoods’ Covfefe is two-for-three, the only defeat a fourth-place finish last fall in Belmont Park’s Grade 1 Frizette Stakes at a mile won by champion 2-year-old filly Jaywalk. In her only start this year, Covfefe led all the way to take a 6 1/2-furlong allowance race at Keeneland.
4:14 p.m.—$300,000 Grade 3 Pimlico Special Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on NBC Sports and TVG
The historic Pimlico Special, lengthened this year to 1 ¼ miles for the first time in history, drew the biggest field since its revival in 1988 as 14 were entered. The Special will be the second start off a layoff for Rally Cry and You’re to Blame, both of whom are trained by Todd Pletcher. A 6-year-old son of Uncle Mo, Rally Cry enters off a fourth-place finish in the Grade 3 Charles Town Classic. You’re to Blame, owned by Bortolazzo Stable, kicked off his 5-year-old season with an optional claiming victory at Gulfstream Park on the heels of a successful year that included a victory in the 1 5/8-miles Grade 3 Greenwood Cup.
4:48 p.m.—$250,000 Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on NBC Sports and TVG
Having established her local dominance with four straight wins, the last three in stakes, Maryland homebred Las Setas will face the biggest test of her young career when she faces a batch of new faces as she steps up to graded company in Friday’s Black-Eyed Susan. Trained by Katy Voss for fellow co-owners Robert Manfuso and Wayne Harrison, Las Setas is attempting to become the first Maryland-bred to win the Black-Eyed Susan since favored Calipha bested 12 rivals in 1994 for owner-breeder Mrs. James A. Bayard and Hall of Fame trainer Grover ‘Bud’ Delp.
5:57 p.m.—$150,000 Grade 3 Allaire duPont Distaff Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on TVG
Mylady Curlin makes her stakes debut in the $ Allaire duPont Distaff after allowance victories at Oaklawn and Keeneland in her last two races. Laurel Park-based trainer Dale Capuano hopes stakes winner Timeless Curls, another daughter of Curlin, can rebound from a seventh-place finish on turf in the Dahlia Stakes.
Saturday May 18
1:28 p.m.—$150,000 Grade 3 Maryland Sprint Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on TVG
Two years after picking up his first graded-stakes victory in the Maryland Sprint Stakes, Always Sunshine returns to Pimlico Race Course Saturday in search of another in the six-furlong race. With a record of 8-5-4 in 27 starts, Always Sunshine has bankrolled $545,850 with stakes victories in the Tale of the Cat at Saratoga Race Course, the Hockessin at Delaware Park, and the Dave’s Friend at Laurel.
2:12 p.m.—$125,000 Grade 3 Selene Stakes at Woodbine on TVG
Queen’s Plate-eligible Bold Script chases her second lifetime added-money title in Saturday’s Selene Stakes. The Chiefswood Stables’ Sovereign Award-winning homebred brings a record of two wins, one second and a pair of thirds from six starts into the 1 1/16-mile Selene, a key race leading up to the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks (June 8), as well as the $1 million Queen’s Plate (June 29). Trained by Stuart Simon, the three-year-old daughter of Speightstown arrives at Saturday’s feature off a fifth-place performance in the Grade 2 Davona Dale Stakes, contested on March 2 at Gulfstream Park.
4:05 p.m.—$150,000 Grade 3 Gallorette Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on NBC Sports and TVG
The timing seems right for Thewayiam to show how much an eight-month layoff can pay off in the Gallorette Stakes going 1 1/16 miles on the turf. Thewayiam, a multiple graded-stakes winner, gave trainer Graham Motion an indication she’s ready for a strong effort in the Gallorette after running second by a half-length to Lady Joan in an allowance/optional claimer at Gulfstream Park on April 13. It was the 4-year-old filly’s first start since last August, when she finished ninth in the Grade 2 Lake Placid at Saratoga Race Course.
4:42 p.m.—$200,000 Grade 3 Chick Lang Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on NBC Sports and TVG
WinStar Farm, China Horse Club and SF Racing’s Preamble, undefeated in three career starts, will face stakes company for the first time including fellow unbeaten Pyron in the Chick Lang. Preamble, a chestnut son of champion sprinter Speightstown, won his only start this year by 2 ¾ lengths in a seven-furlong optional claiming allowance April 6 at Keeneland. He captured each of his starts at 2, both at six furlongs, breaking his maiden at Churchill Downs in September.
4:55 p.m.—$100,000 Grade 3 Louisville Stakes at Churchill Downs on TVG
Fern Circle Stables, Stud TNT and Old Friends, Inc.’s Vettori Kin (BRZ) will defend his title in Saturday’s Louisville Stakes going 1 ½ miles on the turf. Trained by five-time Louisville winner Kenny McPeek, Vettori Kin most recently finished fifth and was defeated by 2 ¾ lengths in the Grade 2 Elkhorn Stakes at Keeneland. The 6-year-old son of Vettori is in search of his first victory since last year’s edition of the Louisville.
5:26 p.m.—$100,000 Grade 3 Soaring Softly Stakes at Belmont Park on TVG
Feel Glorious will cut back in distance while making her graded stakes debut, headlining an eight-horse field of 3-year-old fillies in the seven-furlong Soaring Softly on the widener turf at Belmont Park. The English-bred Feel Glorious will be returning to sprinting after starting her North American career 2-for-2 in routes since coming into trainer Christophe Clement’s care, winning against optional claimers at one mile on March 9 at Gulfstream Park and handling the step up to stakes company with a win by a head over Blowout in the 1 1/16-mile Memories of Silver on April 19.
5:39 p.m.—$250,000 Grade 2 Dixie Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on NBC and TVG
It has taken more than six months but Catholic Boy, a Grade 1 winner on both dirt and turf, will make his seasonal debut as he returns to grass in the Dixie Stakes Saturday going 1 1/16-miles. Robert LaPenta, Madaket Stables, Siena Farm and Twin Creeks Racing Stables’ Catholic Boy has not raced since being eased following a rough trip in the Breeders’ Cup Classic Nov. 3 at Churchill Downs. It was the end of a six-race campaign that produced three wins, all in graded-stakes, and pushed the bay ridgling over $1 million in career earnings
6:48 p.m.—$1.65 million Grade 1 Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on NBC
WinStar Farm LLC, China Horse Club International and Starlight Racing, principles in the ownership group of 2018 Triple Crown champion Justify, will once again be represented by a morning-line favorite for the Preakness Stakes when Improbable is scheduled to take on 12 rivals in the 144th running of the 1 3/16-mile classic. Installed as the 5-2 morning-line favorite, Improbable would appear to have a solid chance to give trainer Bob Baffert back-to-back victories and a record-breaking eighth success in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.
Improbable had the best finish of the four Preakness entrants that ran in the May 4 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, finishing fifth before being placed fourth through the disqualification of first-place-finisher Maximum Security. Also representing the Kentucky Derby in the Preakness will be War of Will, Win Win Win and Bodexpress, who finished eighth, 10th and 14th, respectively, before all being bumped up a spot upon Maximum Security’s disqualification.
7:30 p.m.—$100,000 Grade 3 Lazaro Barrera Stakes at Santa Anita Park on TVG
Bob Baffert’s Mucho Gusto and Jeff Bonde’s Sparky Ville headline the Lazaro Barrera Stakes at seven furlongs. A disappointing third as the 4-5 favorite in the Grade 3 Sunland Park Derby March 24, Mucho Gusto, a Kentucky-bred colt by Mucho Macho Man, will cut back in distance from a mile and one eighth, while Bonde’s Sparky Ville returns from Golden Gate Fields where he was sixth in the California Derby at 1 1/16 miles on synthetic Tapeta April 27.
Sunday May 19
7:30 p.m.—$100,000 Grade 3 Desert Stormer Stakes at Santa Anita Park on TVG
Jerry Hollendorfer’s late blooming Danuska’s My Girl seeks her fourth consecutive win and her second straight graded stakes score as she heads the Desert Stormer Stakes at six furlongs on the Santa Anita main track. Entered for a maiden $62,500 claiming tag in July, 2018, this 5-year-old mare by Shackleford registered a career-best 95 Beyer Speed figure in winning the Grade 3 Las Flores Stakes.