Team Tuley's Thoroughbred Takes for Preakness Weekend 5/20-21

By Dave Tuley  (VSiN senior reporter) 


(Note: This column has been updated with more Saturday picks and updated after early scratches.)

Welcome to Preakness Weekend. We know it’s lost a little luster with Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike bypassing Saturday’s second jewel of the Triple Crown, but we still have two exciting days of racing at Pimlico.

Friday wasn’t the best day for Team Tuley, but just like on Kentucky Derby Weekend when I came through with Secret Oath at 4-1 in the Kentucky Oaks, my friend Ed Sehon (aka Mr. Ed from his daily columns on the Keeneland meet) had #9 Interstatedaydream at 6-1 in the Black-Eyed Susan so hopefully we have some momentum heading into today’s card.

Just like for the Derby, our regular team of Rampart race and sports book manager Duane Colucci, John Lauro and Sehon is joined by DraftKings director of race and sports book operations John Avello.

So, here’s our top plays for Saturday highlighted by the Preakness card at Pimlico, but also including plays at Churchill Downs and Belmont Park.

Good luck today (and every day).


Pimlico Race No. 4 (12:16 p.m. ET/9:16 a.m. PT)

Ed Sehon likes three in the Grade 3 Maryland Sprint Stakes. “In a field loaded with speed, I like classy #2 Sir Alfred James (6-1 morning line), lightly raced #4 Disco Pharoah (5-2) and consistent #7 Jaxon Traveler (3-1). Wager: Box the 2,4,7 in Exactas.


Churchill Races Nos. 3-4 (1:43 a.m. ET/10:43 a.m. PT)

Ed Sehon likes the following Daily Double

Race 3: ALL

Race 4: 2 (BEST BET)


Churchill Race No. 4 (2:13 p.m. ET/11:13 a.m. PT)

John Lauro also loves #2 Casa de Goat (7-5 morning line). “Casa de Goat is a future superstar. BEST BET of the day.”


Pimlico Race No. 7 (2:08 p.m. ET/11:08 a.m. PT)

Ed Sehon likes #6 Cilla (7-2 morning line). “Fast filly makes her second start as a 4-year-old vs. an accomplished field of pure sprinters. Following a quick drill at Delaware Park, Tyler Gaffalione accepts mount for conditioner Bret Brinkman. If speedy daughter of California Chrome can wrestle early lead, she will never look back. Wager: Win and Place.”


Pimlico Races Nos. 10-13 (4:12 p.m. ET/1:12 p.m. PT)

Ed Sehon likes the following $.50 Pick 4 (cost $72)

Race 10: 5,8,10

Race 11: 1,5,8

Race 12: 2,3,7,9

Race 13: 1,2,5,8


Duane Colucci likes the following $.50 Pick 4 (cost $36)

Race 10: 3,5,10

Race 11: 1,3,5,8

Race 12: 2,5,6

Race 13: 5,8


Pimlico Race No. 10 (4:12 p.m. ET/1:12 p.m. PT)

Dave Tuley likes #8 Shake Em Loose (8-1 morning line) in the ungraded James W. Murphy Stakes. “This 3-year-old gelding should be able to sit off the pace and make a winning move for home under hot jockey Jevian Toledo just like he did in two wins in a row at Laurel before failing to fire in his last race – which is why we’re getting such a fair price. I also like that Mr. Ed uses him in the first leg of his Pick 4 along with the chalk. Wager: Win and Place.”


Belmont Race No. 8 (4:41 p.m. ET/1:41 p.m. PT)

Ed Sehon likes #2 Central Pride (8-1 morning line). “Value play of the day. Veteran trainer John Terranova has expensive 3-year-old son of Lord Nelson ready to win at generous price. He stretches him out, adds blinkers and hires aggressive young apprentice Jose Gomez to ride. Wagers: Win and Place on 2, and box him in Exactas with 6 and 8.”


Pimlico Race No. 11 (4:53 p.m. ET/1:53 p.m. PT)

Dave Tuley likes #10 Ruggs (10-1) in the ungraded Sir Barton Stakes. “This 3-year-old son of Gun Runner is certainly stepping up in class as failing at this level earlier in his career. However, he looks like he figured out how to rate in his last race and should be able to sit a winning trip under jockey Joel Rosario even if he isn’t able to get the lead from the outside post. Wager: Win and Place.”


Churchill Race No. 11 (5:58 p.m. ET/2:58 p.m. PT)

Ed Sehon likes #2 Cavalry Charge (12-1 morning line). “Gelded son of Honor Code recently has exhibited nasty habit of breaking badly, and by the time he gets in gear, is distanced by field. In effort to give him additional turf to recover, ultra-patient trainer Dallas Stewart stretches him out from 1 1/8-mile to a marathon and hires journeyman David Cohen to ride. Charge! Wager: Win and Place.”


Dave Tuley Ed Sehon (aka Mr. Ed) Duane Colucci
VSiN senior reporter VSiN handicapper Rampart R&S manager
1. #1 Simplification (6-1) 1. #2 Creative Minister (10-1) 1. #5 Early Voting (7-2)
2. #8 Epicenter (6-5) 2. #1 Simplification (6-1) 2. #8 Epicenter (6-5)
3. #7 Armagnac (12-1) 3. #5 Early Voting (7-2) 3. #1 Simplification (6-1)
LS: #6 Happy Jack (30-1) LS: #6 Happy Jack (30-1) LS: #7 Armagnac (12-1)
John Avello John Lauro CONSENSUS
DraftKings Director of R&S VSiN handicapper 1. #8 Epicenter (6-5)
1. #8 Epicenter (6-5) 1. #4 Secret Oath (9-2) 2. #1 Simplification (6-1)
2. #4 Secret Oath (9-2) 2. #8 Epicenter (6-5) 3. #4 Secret Oath (9-2)
3. #2 Creative Minister (10-1) 3. #1 Simplification (6-1) 4. #2 Creative Minister (10-1)
LS: #9 Skippylongstocking (20-1) LS: #2 Creative Minister (10-1) LS: #6 Happy Jack (30-1)

Preakness Stakes

Pimlico Race No. 13 (7:01 p.m. ET/4:01 p.m. PT)

John Avello likes favorite #8 Epicenter (6-5 morning line), who, as his Kentucky Derby pick, finished second two weeks ago at Churchill Downs. “He ran a solid Derby, but in order to capture the Preakness, he’ll need to be closer to the early pace at Pimlico. I see no reason why the race’s lone filly, #4 Secret Oath (9-2), can’t be right there with Epicenter at the wire. She has a legitimate chance to upset the chalk and reward investors with a solid return. My other horse is late-blooming #2 Creative Minister (10-1), who continues to get better with every start for sly Kentucky-based trainer Kenny McPeek. Look for Epicenter and Secret Oath early and Creative Minister late. Wager: I’ll play an Exacta Box, using the 4 and 8 with the 2.”

Duane Colucci likes #5 Early Voting (7-2 morning line). “This Chad Brown colt ran lights out in the Wood Memorial, then his connections chose to skip the Kentucky Derby and point for this. Jockey Jose Ortiz and Brown combine to hit 27 percent. Ortiz just needs to rate a little and Epicenter and Simplification will have to catch him, but won’t. #8 Epicenter (6-5) ran a winning race in the Derby, should enjoy the shorter distance.and will be tough. #1 Simplification (6-1) had a bad trip in the Derby and Ortiz goes to Early Voting. He is the best of the Florida 3-year-olds. Longshot #7 Armagnac (12-1) is a former Bob Baffert trainee, gets Irad Ortiz Jr. in the saddle and will be on the lead as far as he goes.”

Ed Sehon likes #2 Creative Minister (10-1 morning line) to spring this week’s upset and prevail in the Preakness. “With the defection of several runners from the Derby, what’s left to capture the crab cakes? — an uninspiring bunch of slackers. Making only his fourth start, and supplemented ($150,000 fee) into the nine-horse field by his sharp connections, the strapping 3-year-old colt has improved in each of his prep races. To Place, I’m picking another unlikely challenger to the morning-line favorites, #1 Simplification (6-1). Breaking from the No. 13 post, he finished a closing fourth in the Derby and I expect improvement — if he can sit closer to the quicker pacesetters. My Show choice is #5 Early Voting (7-2) for the powerful Chad Brown barn. He might just be better than the other eight entrants. Far be it from this notorious chalkeater to preach, but I have faith in my minister. Wager: Win, Place and Show on the 2.”

Dave Tuley likes #1 Simplification (6-1). “Simplification ran a great Derby and it very well could have been him getting the trip that won for Rich Strike. Now, he closed from 7th place to win the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream, but he’s really not a deep closer as he was only 2.5 lengths back in that race, so I expect him to be closer to the pace in the 9-horse field in the Preakness than he was in the 20-horse Derby and able to save ground with his inside post. That should put him in a great position to get first run on the other closers in this race. I have to use #8 Epicenter as he hasn’t been worse than 2nd in any race since his debut effort. I also give a big shot to #7 Armagnac, the former Bob Baffert trainee. A lot of people are saying #3 Early Voting should be the controlling speed – and he certainly has a lot of 1’s in his running lines – however, Armagnac has that “California speed” and I see him as the more likely pacesetter and the best chance to hit the board. My longshot is #6 Happy Jack, but only if the race really falls apart. I’ll bet 1 to Win if at least 5-1 and will box my picks (1-6-7-8) in Exacta and Trifecta boxes.

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