Kent Baker

Kent “Knobby” Baker spent 38 years as a sports reporter for the Baltimore Sun, covering horse racing, the Baltimore Orioles, the Baltimore Colts, University of Maryland and the Naval Academy before retiring in 2007. The Hagerstown, MD native joined the Preakness media relations team in 2008 where he offers wagering analysis for the Black-Eyed Susan and Preakness day cards.





*All bets based on race staying on turf.
$50,000, mdn, 2yo, 5 fur (turf)
   Trainer Wesley Ward comes in from Kentucky with Irish-bred Finnegan (9), who was strong in a Keeneland debut despite being squeezed early. He can overcome the outside post in a field that includes four fillies. The Dane Kobiskie-conditioned entry of Don's Girl (1), who weakened late in her first start, and Shoot Craps (1a), a first-time starter with quick works, also rates consideration. La Nina (4) also has shown some speed.
Win: Finnegan (9)
Exacta: Box Finnegan (9) with the entry (1 and 1a) and La Nina (4)
Longshot Pick: Sunshine Life (5)>
$30,000, The Deputed Testamony Starter Handicap, 3yo&up, 1 1/16 mi
  No horse truly sticks out in this event, so it might be prudent to take a flyer on a longshot. The top recent form belongs to Take Down Two (10), albeit in the lower claiming ranks. The gelding is 10 years old and he keeps trying hard. The entry of Q's Jack (1) and Hideaway Moon (1a) provides the two-for one option and both rate a chance. Stolen Love (3) has that Not For Love pedigree that can never be totally dismissed in Maryland racing.
Win:  The entry of 1 and 1a)
Exacta: Box the entry of 1 and 1a with Take Down Two (10) and Stolen Love (3)
Longshot Pick: No Brakes (7)
$50,000, mdn, 3yo&up, 1 1/16 mi (turf)
   Grass racing, with its fuller fields, customarily provides greater value in the betting for patrons and this race is the ideal example. Thirteen are scheduled to run with Honest Dude (1a) and Mack the Knife (5) the likely scratches unless the scene is shifted to the main track. Relentless Ride (1) always gets a piece of the purse without winning, so underneath the winner is a good place for him.  Zoo (15) finished Less than a length behind in their latest and don"t count out Timmy T (8), who was impressive in a turf debut.
Win: Timmy T (8))
Exacta: Box Timmy T (8) with Relentless Ride (1) and Zoo (15)
Longshot Pick: Steel Sky (14)
$100,000, The James W. Murphy Stakes,  3yo, 1 mi (turf)
   This should be a terrific duel between undefeated Woodwin W (6), Force the Pass (2) and Bluegrass Singer (3). Not much separates those three in their resumes although a speed duel among them could set this up for a late=coming runner.  Woodwin W, trained locally by Jamie Ness, has the advantage of a victory over the Pimlico strip while Force the Pass and Bluegrass Singer have done the majority of their recent damage in Florida.
Win: Woodwin W (6)
Exacta: Box Woodwin W (6) with Force the Pass (2) and Bluegrass Singer (3)
Longshot Pick:  Syntax (7)
$150,000, The Maryland Sprint Handicap, Gr III, 3yo&up, 6 fur
   Defending champion Happy My Way (4) is back to rate favoritism  by a nod over Picko's Pride (3). Happy My Way has had a brief respite since two good efforts at Gulfstream Park and generally runs in tougher company than the remainder of these entries. Picko's Pride has the "quicks" but has scored only one win this year and last.  Coup de Grace (2) is 5-for-10 lifetime and has held his own in the graded ranks.
Win: Happy My Way (4))
Exacta: Use Happy My Way (4) over Picko's Pride (3), Coup de Grace (2)  and Sandbar (5)
Longshot Pick: Jack's in the Deck (1))
$52,000, alw, 3yo&up, f&m, 5 fur (turf)
    A wide-open allowance race loaded with unpredictable fillies and mares, this race affords an opportunity to take a chance on some long odds. Smart N Smokin (13) has acquitted herself well against this kind of opposition and had a tuneup race over the Pimlico oval. Billyscrystalball (4)  is accustomed to fast time while vying at Monmouth Park while Lulu Island (6) reached the winner's circle at Old Hilltop last month, but is stepping up in class.
Win: Smart N Smokin (13)
Exacta: Box Smart N Smokin (13) with Billyscrystball (4) and Lulu Island (6)
Longshot Pick: Pret Say Eye (9)
$100,000, The Sir Barton Stakes, 3 yo, 1 1/16 mi
  For those sophomores who don't quite cut it to make the Preakness, the Sir Barton is often one of the most exciting races of the day. Fame and Power (1), from the Bob Baffert barn, chased Preakness horse Divining Rod in his latest start and has the top credentials here. In that same race at Keeneland, Donworth  (6 ) nosed Fame and Power for the place money. Bold Conquest (5) has been facing the top-of-the-line 3-year-olds, including American Pharoah.
Win: Donworth (6))
Exacta: Box Donworth (6) with Fame and Power (1) and Bold Conquest (5)
Longshot Pick: Noteworthy Peach (4)
$55,000, opt alw/clg, 3yo&up, 1 1/16 mi (turf)
With Lunar Rock scheduled to go only if the race is conducted on dirt, 13 line up for this optional allowance-claimer. Other Cheek (12) returns after a five-month layoff and could be ready. Another Not For Love progeny, Loves Last Chance (10), has the pedigree and one of the leading local jockeys, Trevor McCarthy, on his team. Causeworthy (11) also figures in the mix off his consistency of late, but he has never had fortune on the grass.


Win: Loves Last Chance (10))
Exacta: Box Loves Last Chance (10) with Other Cheek (12) and Causeworthy (11)
Longshot Pick: Sir Sydney (9))
$150,000, The Stella Artois Gallorette Handicap, Gr III, f&m, 3yo&up, 1 1/16 mi (turf)
  Based on a solid record against graded company, the bettors' choice here figures to be Watsdachances (8), and Irish-bred mare trained by Chad Brown in New York. Hard Not to Like (7) is another heavy hitter with similar results in her portfolio and Emotional Kitten (3) doesn't figure to be overmatched. The unknowns here are Token of Love (9) and Mango Diva (10), both imports from Great Britain making their American debuts.
Win: Watsdachances (8)
Exacta: Box Watsdachances (8) with Hard Not to Like (7) and Emotional Kitten (3)
Longshot Pick: Sistas Stroll (11))
$100,000, The Chick Lang Stakes, 3yo, 6 fur
     Holy Boss (9) has reached excellent form and there is no reason to expect him to bounce here. Gimme Da Lute (7) may very well capture the lion's share of the loot after being steadied his last outing and finishing third. Victory Is Sweet (5) won by a heads-turning eighth lengths last month at Aqueduct and appears to have it figured out after a disappointing debut. Grand Bill (8) is another who may have to be reckoned with.
Win: Holy Boss (9)
Exacta:  Box Holy Boss (9) with Gimme Da Lute (7) and Victory Is Sweet (5)
Longshot Pick:  SGrand Bill (8)
$100,000, The Very One Stakes, 3yo&up, f&m, 5 fur (turf)
   If she's ready after being away since September, the nod here goes to Joya Real (4), a speedy daughter of Eddington who likes to come off the pace. Shrinking Violet  (5), a stalker, will argue and Ageless (2), still a factor at age 6, is approaching half a million in purse winnings. Paddle Board (3) is likely to set the pace, which could be rapid, setting things up nicely for Joya Real, who rarely misses being there at the finish.
Win: Joya Real (4)
Exacta: Box Joya Real (4) with Shrinking Violet (5) and Ageless (2)
Longshot Pick: Aquinnah (9)
$300,000, The Longines Dixie Stakes, Gr II, 3yo&up, 1 1/16 mi (turf)
   Pimlico's oldest stakes--first held in 1870 and won by the horse Preakness--the Dixie has attracted a stellar and bulging field of 16, two of whom will not start (perhaps more if the race comes off the turf). Several coin flips would be needed to decipher this one, which has at least seven legitimate contenders. 
Racing luck and positioning will probably determine the outcome. Going with jockey John Velazquez and trainer Christopher Clement, the connections for War Correspondent (13) is not a bad idea, all other things being equal. But it wouldn't be shocking to see any of the following win: 


Grand Tito (1), Aripeka (4), Lochte (8), Manchurian High (10) , Up With the Birds (11) or Long On Value (12)
Win: War Correspondent (13)
Exacta:  Box War Correspondent (13) Lochte (8), Manchurian High (10) and Long On Value (12)
Longshot Pick: Grand Tito (1)
$1,500,000, The Preakness Stakes, 3yo, 1 3/16 mi
  The biggest question revolving around the biggest race is how the two inside post positions will affect Bob Baffert's outstanding duo of Kentucky Derby winner American Pharoah (1) and third-place finisher Dortmund (2). By contrast, the horse who split them in the Run For The Roses, Firing Line (8), wound up on the extreme outside of the eight-horse field, leaving veteran jockey Gary Stevens ecstatic. Is the Pharoah horse enough to overcome the rail, considered a detriment because you can be pinned down inside forever, compromising your chances badly. The guess here is that the cagey Stevens, who, at age 50, stunned everyone two years ago by flying away and winning with longshot Oxbow, can do it again. Firing Line is sharp and the post positions may be just enough of an edge. Among the others, Danzig Moon (4) had some trouble in the Derby and still managed fifth and Divining Rod (7) enters freshest of the group. Either can get a piece of the action.
Win: Firing Line (8)
Exacta:  Box Firing Line (8) with American Pharoah (1) and Dortmund (2)
Longshot Pick:  Danzig Moon (4)
$52,000, alw, 3yo&up, 1 1/16 mi
  If your bankroll is still sufficient by this finale, most of the power in this event will start on the inside. Jack O Liam (4) has won two straight since being claimed and Old Upstart (2) is a consistent competitor in New York Jigsaw (1) and Double Whammy (3) also seem to be right in the thick of the challenge at the end. Of the others, Sequoia (9) has a chance, but he hasn't been out since January and may need a tuneup.
Win:  Jack  O Liam (4) 
Exacta: Box Jack O Liam (4) with Jigsaw (1), Old Upstart (2) and Double Whammy (3)
Longshot Pick: Sequoia (9)


*All bets based on race staying on turf.
RACE 1 $50,000, mdn, 3yo & up, 5 fur (turf)
The opening match on the Black-Eyed Susan card brings together a host of maidens, including four first-time starters. Several knocked on the winning door in their last trip and rate long looks. Pool Winner (10) drew the outside position, but it may not be much of a handcap since he finished a strong second from the 12 spot while running three wide in his latest. Another who woke up was Victor Newman (4) after a dismal effort in his opener. Dunne Hall (9) also has a shot.
Win:Pool Winner (10)
Exacta:Box Poo Winner (10) with Victor Newman (4) and Dunne Hall (9)
Longshot Pick:Spring Equinox (8)


$52,000, alw,  f&m, 3 yo &up, 1/16 mi.
 The locals will have to deal with some talented invaders in this router, headed by Todd Pletcher-trained Don'tforgetaboutme (7), an unchallenged victor at Churchill Downs on April 25. Add jockey John Velazquez and you have a probable favorite for this field. Another on her oats in the latest was Kiaran McLaughlin-trained Samantha Nicole (6), a Keeneland winner on April 18. Both are coming off their maiden scores.
Win: Don'tforgetaboutme (7)
Exacta: Box Don'tforgetaboutme (7) with Samantha Nicole (6) and Valerie Victoria (9a)  
Longshot Pick: Rachel Wall (1)
$52,000, alw, 3yo&up, 5 fur (turf)
 Local sports fans should have a field day with hunch bets in this one with the lineup including T Sizzle (named after Raven Terrell Suggs) and Markakis (former Oriole Nick). However, a number of others should get the most support in this crowded field, led by Cusabo (6), who will run only if the race is shifted to the main track. Should  Super Spender (14 ) start from the also eligibles, he figures to be tough and California-based Conscience (12) is to be considered.
Win: Super Spender (14) if he goes
Exacta: Box Super Spender (14) with Conscience (12) and T Sizzle (8). Also use Cusabo (6) if on dirt.
Longshot Pick: Sterling's Maximus (11) 


$50,000, mdn, f, 3yo, 5 1/2 fur.
  Tiz Emily and Jill (1) and Southern Portrait (6) emerge from good efforts in the same race, finishing second and third, respectively, and there is no reason to suspect a letdown from either. A sleeper could be first-timer Clockstrucktwelve (9) from the Michael Trombetta barn and Paper Doilie (7) flashed speed going a tad longer. This could easily be a question of whomever gets the jump from the gate.
Win: Tiz Emily and Jill (1)
Exacta: Box Tiz Emily and Jill (1) with Southern Portrait (6) and Clockstrucktwelve (9)

Longshot Pick: Paper Doilie (7)

$100,000, The Hilltop Stakes, f, 3yo, 1 1/16 mi (turf)
A prohibitive favorite here should be Miss Temple City (10) with Velazquez in the saddle for conditioner H. Graham Motion. After two wins, she acquitted herself handsomely in Grade III company and has an affinity for being near the pacea and rallying nicely. Ayaady (1) seems ready for her first stakes test and Lady Zuzu (4) comes in under the handling of Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas.
Win: Miss Temple City (10)
Exacta: Use Miss Temple City (10) over Ayaady (1), Inside Out (2) Lady  Zuzu (4) and All in Fun (8)
Longshot Pick: Gypsy Judy (7)
$52,000, alw, 3yo&up, 6 fur
A wide-open affair for older horses, this sprint could produce an exciting finish. It's difficult to separate American Progress (3), Right on Course (7a), Regal Soldier (10) and Daniel Did It (11). Give a slight edge to Daniel Did It (11) despite the outside post, based on sharpness at Pimlico lately. Watery Moon (1) may need one after nearly a year away from competition while Right On Course has a stablemate running, which could figure in the race strategy.
Win: Daniel Did It (11)
Exacta: Box  Daniel Did It (11) with American Progress (3), Right On Course (7a) and Regal Soldier (10)
Longshot Pick: Chief Of Command (4)
$52.000,  alw, f&m, 3youp, 1 1/16 mi (turf)
Will Charm City Girl (8) be at the top of her game after 10 months away is the burning question here. She always gives it an effort whenever she goes. In lieu of her best, the choice figures to be Mobilize (6), a Shug McGaughey trainee who has also enjoyed several months of rest. Fancy Malka (7), trained by John Servis of Smarty Jones fame, takes well to grass racing and should be a contender.
Win: Mobilize (6)
Exacta: Box Mobilize (6) with Fancy Malka (7) and Charm City Girl (8)
Longshot Pick: Playful Love (1)
$150,000, Gr III, The Adena Springs Miss Preakness Stakes, f, 3yo, 6 fur
Miss Ella (3) and Divine Dawn (6) finished 1-2 in the Grade II Beaumont at Keeneland last month and figure to get plenty of support at the betting windows. But there is plenty of competition here to keep them honest, including Huasca (11), Spark (10)and Irish Jasper (9), all  fresh from victory. They all thrive running at or near the front end; therefore, this race could set up nicely for a closer to take advantage of a speed duel.
Win: Miss Ella (3)
Exacta: Box Miss Ella (3) with Divine Dawn (6), Huasca (11) and Spark (10)
Longshot Pick: Coco's Wildcat (7)
$100,000, The Jim McKay Turf Sprint, 3yo&up, 5 fur (turf)
Old Ben's Cat (3), now 9, will try to add to his amazing record, (closing in on $2.5 million earned), by defending his title in this dash named for the founder of the Maryland Million and former renowned national sports broadcaster. He was defeated by Bold Thunder (7) in his only 2015 outing and has only triumphed twice in seven outings since this race last spring. The opposition will be a handful again with Bold Thunder (7) back along with Dreamsgonewild (8), who beat them both in the Laurel Dash.
Win: Bold Thunder (7)
Exacta: Box Bold Thunder (7) with Ben's Cat (3) and Dreamsgonewild (8)
Longshot Pick: Golden Emperor (4)
$150,000, The Allaire Dupont Distaff Stakes, Gr III, f&m, 3 yo&up, 1 1/8 mi
All will be taking aim at Stopchargingmaria (2), a force in the Todd Pletcher stable and the winner of last year's Black Eyed Susan Stakes. She has been running in top stakes company...and running impressively. Nobody else in this field has her credentials and she has beaten Fortune Pearl (5) and Joint Return (4), who will take another shot at her. It doesn't appear this is where she'll weaken.
Win: Stopchargingmaria (2)
Exacta: Use Stopchargingmaria (2) over Joint Return (4), Fortune Pearl (5), Lunar Surge (1)and Before You Know It (7)
Longshot Pick: Brenda's Way (6)
$250,000, The Black Eyed Susan Stakes, Gr II, f, 3yo, 1 1/8 mi
Bob Baffert has done well in this leading Maryland filly race and he could have another score here with Luminance (8), who has taken each stop to this distance with aplomb. Ahh Chocolate (3) is lightly raced, but undefeated in two outings, and has flashed strong closing kick. Sweetgrass (6) is also progressing nicely, but might be a little overmatched at this level. Ditto Pure (2), who just broke her maiden at Santa Anita last month.
Win: Luminance (8) 
Exacta: Box Luminance (8) with Ahh Chocolate (3) and Sweetgrass (6)
Longshot Pick: Include Betty (5)
$100,000, The Skipat Stakes, f&m, 3yo&up, 6 fur
This may be the toughest race to handicap and the most competitive on the entire program. Lady Sabelia (5) appears the most consistent, but she will have plenty of company at the front because several have taken turns beating each other. Whose day is it likely to be? She's Ordained (3), Galiana (4), Printasticat (6) and Who's In Town all could figure in the mix. Flip a couple of coins to decide which way to go.
Win: Lady Sabelia (5)
Exacta: Use Lady Sabelia (5) over She's Ordained (3), Galiana (4), Printasticat (6) and Who's In Town (7)
Longshot Pick: Frivolity (2)
RACE 13  
$55,000, opt alw/clmg, f&m, 3yo&up, 5 fur (turf)
  Velvet Tie (9) has taken to Pimlico's course with two consecutive wins and has exhibited the speed necessary to be a factor at this distance. Thisdanseistaken (5) has been right there at this level and Pennies Appeal (6) is on a two-race winning streak. But this is another closely matched field in a race that could be determined by the break and breaks. Only Jitterbug (7) has shown a tendency to burst to the front early and he is entered only for a main track run.
Win: Velvet Tie (9)
Exacta: Box Velvet Tie (9) with Thisdanseistaken (5) and Pennies Appeal (6)
Longshot Pick: Conspirer (1)
$300,000, The Sagamore Racing Pimlico Special,  Gr III, 3 yo&up, 1 3/16 mi
At the close of  a long day, patrons get the richest and most historic race on the card. Cat Burglar (9) barely missed in the Special last spring and returns under Baffert's tutelage for another attempt. No horse  on this entry list has been more consistent than Page McKenney (5), a local runner who is as honest as they come.  Then there is Transparent (2), who is coming off a hard-earned win at Keeneland and Tapiture (1), who has been running up some big figures while competing for Steve Asmussen. Don't forget Commissioner (10), who has Pletcher and jockey Javier Castellano, a Special winner in 2013.
Win: Cat Burglar (9)
Exacta: Box Cat Burglar (9) with Transparent (2), Tapiture (1) and Commissioner (1)
Longshot Pick: Page McKenney (5)