Key Races & Bets for Saturday May 18, 2024

Brought to you by, a great legal online wagering website with great betting tools and perks, legal for residents of most states and covering most tracks in North America as well as many in the rest of the world.

Sir Barton Stakes - Race 10 at Pimlico - Post Time 4:10 PM Eastern

Top Contender: Tuscan Sky
Others to consider: D Day Sky, Daily Grind, Mighty Message, Corporate Power, Imperial Gun

Tuscan Sky may be a standout in this race, but he’s not the morning line favorite, as he opens at 5 to 2 compared to 9 to 5 for Corporate Power. Tuscan Sky won the first two races of his career, easily, including his first two-turn race on 2/17 at this distance. He ran poorly in the Wood Memorial and this is a much easier test, almost a non-winners of 2 allowance level race. He earned a field high 99 Equibase Speed Figure in his route win and in this field he should have an easy lead from the start and prove very tough to catch.

Even if Tuscan Sky will be the favorite there is value in betting the race because the other two favorites, Corporate Power and Imperial Gun, aren’t any more likely to be competitive than D Day Sky, Daily Grind or Mighty Message, all who open at 10 to 1 or higher odds. Even though I think Tuscan Sky may be a low odds overlay at about 3 to 2 or higher, I would not hesitate making small win bets on any of the three at high odds as it is not impossible for them to win. D Day Sky gets Irad Ortiz, Jr. for a low profile trainer and comes off a big win at nine furlongs following this trainer taking over his care. Daily Grind has run big in his last two starts when second to strong winners and will likely be 20 to 1 or higher. Mighty Message just ran the best race of his career winning at this distance. Corporate Power finished second in an allowance race last month after a win but is only as probable, no more so, than the other contenders. Similarly, Imperial Gun was beaten a head in a stakes last month but the traffic trouble it appears he had wasn’t much and although repeating that effort gives him a shot he’s not a standout.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Tuscan Sky can be considered for a win bet at odds as low as 3 to 2 as he could be an overlay even at those odds.
D Day Sky, Daily Grind and Mighty Message might be considered for win bets at 8 to 1 or higher and I wouldn’t hesitate betting at least two of them at or above those odds.

When there is a good chance horses will be high odds, as is the case with D Day Sky, Daily Grind and Mighty Message, there is an opportunity to get an edge by using a dutching tool, which prorates wagers for the best value. There’s a free dutching tool at, where you can set the amount you want to bet and the math is done for you to help achieve the best edge. This is just one of many tools, and perks, for bettors at

Exactas: Tuscan Sky over D Day Sky, Daily Grind, Mighty Message (These exactas maximize value as there is little value in playing exactas with Tuscan Sky over Corporate Power and Imperial Gun)

Trifecta: Tuscan Sky over Corporate Power, Imperial Gun over D Day Sky, Daily Grind, Mighty Message (This covers any of the three higher odds horses coming in third with the other two favorites finishing second behind Tuscan Sky).

Optional $1 exactas:
D Day Sky, Daily Grind, Mighty Message over D Day Sky, Corporate Power, Mighty Message, Tuscan Sky, Daily Grind, Imperial Gun

D Day Sky, Corporate Power, Mighty Message, Tuscan Sky, Daily Grind, Imperial Gun over D Day Sky, Daily Grind, Mighty Message

Double, Pick 3, Pick 4
Race 10: Tuscan Sky
Race 11: Hunter Joe, Charging, Witty (optionally you can use ALL on pick 3 and double tickets)
Race 12: Running Bee, Beatbox, Emmanuel
Race 13: Catching Freedom and Mystik Dan (optionally if you want to go deeper use these five: Uncle Heavy, Catching Freedom, Mystik Dan, Tuscan Gold, Imagination

Jim McKay Turf Sprint Stakes - Race 11 at Pimlico - Post Time 4:53 PM Eastern

Top Contenders: Hunter Joe, Charging, Witty

Witty won the Ben’s Cat Stakes last summer at this distance over this course with a big rally from sixth and as the 4 to 5 favorite. He enters the race in top form off a win in the King Leatherbury Stakes last month and since that followed four months off even better can be expected here. He’s finished first or second in ALL five races he’s run at this distance on turf in his career and gets a lot of pace to run into with Carotari, Smooth B, Where’s Ray and That’s Right all being need-the-lead types.

Hunter Joe enters the race off a career best effort on April 19 in a turf sprint. He won back to back turf routes in October and November but the most recent effort, his first in a turf sprint in nearly a year, shows he belongs here as he earned a 103 Equibase Speed Figure. As a comparison, Carotari, who won the race on 2022 (but is not a good at this stage of his career) earned a 107 figure winning and since Hunter Joe will improve second off a layoff he could post the upset, opening at 15 to 1.

Charging has run big in four of his last five turf sprints, winning two and missing by inches in two of the other three, including when a neck behind Witty in the Leatherbury Stakes last month. He makes his third start off a layoff and gets Irad Ortiz, Jr and showed a big kick last out so is another likely to be running on strongly late.

Handicapper Picks

Win: I think all three contenders (Witty, Hunter Joe, Charging) have about the same 25% probability to win and so their fair odds are 3 to 1. Of the trio, Hunter Joe is almost assuredly going to go to post at higher odds as he opens at 15 to 1, but I would not hesitate betting the two of the three which are the highest odds near post time.

This could be another superb race to use the dutching tool which is free and easy to use at

Every horse in the race has a shot to run second and so the best exacta I could come up with is Witty, Hunter Joe and Charging over ALL but that’s a $30 total bet (at $1 minimum) and just making win bets on two of the three contenders, along with using all three on double, pick 3 and pick 4 (starting in race 10) tickets appears the best way to profit from any of the three winning.

Double and Pick 3:
Race 11: Hunter Joe, Charging, Witty (optionally you can use ALL on pick 3 and double tickets)
Race 12: Running Bee, Beatbox, Emmanuel
Race 13: Catching Freedom and Mystik Dan (optionally if you want to go deeper use these five: Uncle Heavy, Catching Freedom, Mystik Dan, Tuscan Gold, Imagination

Dinner Party Stakes - Race 12 at Pimlico - Post Time 5:52 PM Eastern

Contenders: Running Bee, Beatbox, Emmanuel

Beatbox won the identical Fair Grounds Stakes one before last on February 17 then settled for fourth in the higher level Muniz Classic Stakes on March 23. None of those horses are in this race and so back at the Grade 3 level that effort one race before last is repeatable, and gives Beatbox a good shot to win for the seventh time in his 19th career start. Rosario has been up for his last four races including the win and two runner-up finishes and knows the horse very well.

Running Bee shows up nearly every time he runs, with four wins and three runner-up finishes in nine races, all on turf. He returned from two months off to win a stakes quality classified allowance race last month at Keeneland and should improve second off the layoff. Gaffalione rode him then and rides back, and the horse nearly won the similar Tampa Bay Stakes in February, rallying from third to lead late and beaten a half-length on the wire, so he fits on all counts as well as he was flattered since two horses from the race he won on April 6 have come back to win.

Emmanuel is a multiple Grade 3 stakes winner who has trouble when moving into Grade 1 company, having failed the last four times he’s done that. He won the Canadian Turf Stakes in Marth, the Poker Stakes last June and the Canadian Turf and Tampa Bay Stakes in 2022, and he was third and beaten a half-length for the win in this race last year. Irad Ortiz, Jr. rode him to his last two wins and back at the level of his many successes, Emmanuel rounds out a trio which stands out among the rest in this group.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Similar to the previous race, these three contenders (Beatbox, Running Bee and Emmanuel) all appear to have a decent 25% chance to win, so fair odds are 3 to 1. I suspect Emmanuel will be lower than that threshold but the other two appear to be horses we can bet and if so, a dutching tool would come in handy as well to allocate our wagering dollars among two horses.

Box Running Bee, Beatbox, Emmanuel

Race 12: Running Bee, Beatbox, Emmanuel
Race 13: Uncle Heavy, Catching Freedom, Mystik Dan, Tuscan Gold, Imagination (optionally or on another ticket just use Catching Freedom and Mystik Dan)

Preakness Stakes - Race 13 at Pimlico - Post Time 7:01 PM Eastern

Main Contenders: Catching Freedom, Mystic Dan
Other contenders: Uncle Heavy, Tuscan Gold, Imagination

Catching Freedom was visually impressive winning the Louisiana Derby on March 23, rallying eight paths wide into the stretch and moving up from 11th to 4th before driving past the remaining three horses in front of him in the final eighth of a mile. Prior to that, Catching Freedom rallied for third in the Risen Star Stakes behind Sierra Leone, who nearly won the Kentucky Derby after being 18th in the early stages. In the Kentucky Derby, Catching Freedom moved up from 15th in the early stages but was out finished by Sierra Leone, as well as Forever Young and Derby winner Mystik Dan, who Catching Freedom had followed along the rail in the latter stages of the race. I feel the reason Catching Freedom didn’t run as well as the top three in the Derby had to do with the additional week between the Louisiana Derby and the Kentucky Derby. As I wrote in my Derby analysis, with three year olds at this time of year even a week or two between the last prep race and the Derby can make just enough difference in fitness levels to enable them to successfully run a mile and one-quarter for the first time, or not. Other horses coming out of the Louisiana Derby such as Honor Marie and Track Phantom, who finished eighth and 11th, respectively, in the Kentucky Derby, also seem to prove that point. Now that Catching Freedom is more fit, and as he has improved his Equibase Speed Figures in his last three races from 96, to 98, then to 107 in the Derby, I think he has a nice shot to post the mild upset in this year’s Preakness.

Mystik Dan has run about as fast in each of his last three starts, earning a 110 figure winning the Southwest Stakes in February, 106 figure when third in the Arkansas Derby then a 109 figure winning the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago. The fact he finished third in the Arkansas Derby was part of the reason he went to post at 18 to 1 odds in the Kentucky Derby. Getting a ground saving ride from Brian Hernandez, Jr., in the Kentucky Derby Mystik Dan was able to duplicate his Southwest Stakes effort. Shortening up by a sixteenth of a mile in the Preakness may help him win the second jewel in the Triple Crown given he was in front by two lengths in the Derby with an eighth of a mile to run, with that margin diminishing with every stride by Sierra Leone and Forever Young down to a nose at the wire. Likely to be second in the early stages behind Imagination, who has shown a tendency to run up front from the start, and with a lot less horses to have to maneuver past in the last quarter mile, Mystik Dan may be able to once again save ground then move past the early leaders before holding off the late kick of Catching Freedom.

Horses which I think are a cut below the top two, but can be used on some tickets due to either high odds or scenarios where the top two don’t run as expected, are Imagination, Tuscan Gold and Uncle Heavy. Imagination earned a 104 figure winning the San Felipe Stakes in March before a neck defeat in the Santa Anita Derby with a 98 figure effort. The winner of the Santa Anita Derby, Stronghold, could only manage a seventh place effort in the Kentucky Derby and even improving back to his effort in the San Felipe, Imagination may only be third or fourth best in this field. Tuscan Gold is the most lightly raced horse in the group, having run just three times. He improved to a career-best 96 figure when third in the Louisiana Derby but he’s been away since then as compared to Catching Freedom who ran two weeks ago. It must be noted however that the sixth place finisher in the Louisiana Derby, Antiquarian, won the Peter Pan Stakes last week and so likely to improve in only his third start of the year, Tuscan Gold could make an impression. Uncle Heavy got on everyone’s radar with a very sharp win by a nose in the Withers Stakes at nine furlongs in February, earning a 95 figure in the process. However, he didn’t run well at all two months later when fifth in the Wood Memorial. Still, that 95 figure from the Withers stacks up well with the best effort Tuscan Gold put forth to date and the most recent effort Imagination put forth, so Uncle Heavy is another to consider as a contender.

Handicapper Picks

Win: Catching Freedom and Mystik Dan can be considered for win bets at odds of 2 to 1 or more.

Catching Freedom, Mystik Dan over Catching Freedom, Mystik Dan, Uncle Heavy, Tuscan Gold, Imagination

Share This Story!

Ellis Starr

Ellis is a well respected handicapper and contributor of AmWager. He has been a public handicapper for more than twenty years, educating racing fans of all skill levels with detailed commentary few other handicappers provide.

Related Posts