In Focus: Wagering Commonwealth Day stakes

by | Sep 29, 2017 | Breaking, Handicapping, Top Stories

Rose Brier

Photo by Laurie Asseo.

Our In Focus Guide offers the most in-depth analysis and commentary on the seven stakes on Saturday’s Commonwealth Day day stakes at Laurel Park.

You can also click here to get a two-page PDF version of this guide.

RACE 7 – GRADE 3 COMMONWEALTH OAKS

RACE PARTICULARS: Race 7 (3:30pm EDT), Grade III $150,000 purse for three-year-old fillies, 1 1/8 miles (Turf)

THE PICKS

  1. #7 – Taperge (5-2): Can boast best BRIS turf number (100) earned at Sar in latest going 1/16 miles further than she will in here; appears to be one who “can run all day” who will need pace help but should get it; part of trainer Chad Brown’s lethal 1-2 punch    
  2. #8 – Chubby Star (6-1): Broke maiden in career debut which was 10 races back on this turf course; marks first time back since as she’s picked up fourth place purse in past three efforts (in two G3s and a minor stakes); has responded when a top tier jock has been in the irons, such as Jose Lezcano in here
  3.  #3 – Rymska (2-1): Fifth in ’16 BC Juvenile Fillies Turf after being runner-up in G3 Miss Grillo in her U.S. debut; won lone ’17 start back in Feb., took 5-months off and has been showing a solid work pattern the past 3-months; this event seems to be a prep for another BC run
  4. #6 – Charged (15-1): Inauspicious stakes debut in latest when 7-2, bumped with rival 50 yards out of the gate, took back and was very rank, continuously shaking her head as if to say, “Nope, I’m not doing this today!” so the jock wisely pulled her up before hitting the first turn; won two and placed in three races prior when blinkers were added, improving BRIS# in each; bullet work 8 days ago indicates all is well 

THE REST OF THE FIELD

#1 – Proud Reunion (10-1): Leaps into graded company after disposing of first level allowance gals at KD in latest start; has never run a bad race in her half dozen starts but both wins came on turf courses that were rated as “good”; Lrl lawn has been rock hard of late… #2 Fly By (15-1): Makes just her third career start, both this year and on turf; after a successful debut at GP going 7½ furlongs was a fast closing bridesmaid in a first level allowance at Bel stretching out to 1 1/16 miles; NY-based trainer L. Gyarmati is 1 for 1 at current Lrl meet… #4 – Canny (20-1): Most experienced filly in this group with eleven starts, graduating in her seventh versus $30KMCL but the lightbulb seems to have gone on as she’s progressed nicely just missing in minor stakes at Del then put in a huge effort in the 9 furlong G3 Pucker Up at AP, a neck behind the SHOW runner when 25-1… #5I’m Betty G (12-1): MD-bred Mike Maker trainee won her only start on the local lawn in the Pearl Necklace, restricted to state-breds; blossomed when put on turf (3:2-1-0)  after starting career with three double-digit length loses on dirt… #9 – Flower Fashion (8-1): Adds Lasix for U.S. debut after six starts in native France; a trio of turf works at Bel lead right up to today’s race; C. Clement is 25% with foreign shippers… #10 – In the Lee (12-1): Loves local lawn (2 for 2) with latest win at this event’s distance but will need to take a huge step up to compete prove she belongs

Queen Caroline

Blacktype. Photo by Dottie Miller.

Race 8 — GRADE 2 BALTIMORE-WASHINGTON INTERNATIONAL TURF CUP

RACE PARTICULARS: Race 8 (4:00pm EDT), Grade II $200,000 purse for three-year-olds and upward, one mile (Turf)

SELECTIONS

  1. #7 Blacktype (9-2): Most consistent runner when it comes to BRIS#s as career best (101) is just a tick away from being tops in this field; got the job done in third outing after layoff v. eight foes in stakes caliber OC$100k turf tussle at Bel in latest; in-the-money 6 of 8 at this distance; needs to turn the tables on #2 Projected who has been 1-2 lengths better in both previous meetings   
  2. #2 – Projected (9-5): Third race after a brief layoff and will shed blinkers just one race after they were added but hindered performance instead of helping; been runner-up six times v. just two wins, one by a nose from 6 races in U.S. this year when coming off an 18-month vacation following races in Europe to start career; one mile may not be enough real estate for this gelding  
  3. #3 – Tower of Texas (6-1): Ships in from north of the border for trainer Roger Attfield who also has one in R11 (G3 Commonwealth Derby); convinced WO-based jock Jesse Campbell to make the trip; favorite distance being a three-time starter in the G1 WO Mile fits best among G2 competitors; just 14 days since last race is quickest turn-around for this six-year-old since he was two and failed as 3-5 favorite that day   
  4. #4 Catapult (7-2): Winner at this distance in most recent start in OC$80k at Sar when blinkers were taken off; veteran of four graded stakes events but has consistently been an Also-Ran (4th and 5th); ironically best race speed figure-wise came in lone dirt start

You can also click here to get a two-page PDF version of this guide.

THE REST OF THE FIELD

#1 Glorious Empire (12-1): Carlos Martin trainee made unsuccessful jump into graded stakes competition (7th by 15) in second race after $62,500 claim; possible excuse was a yielding turf as he’s never run well on anything other than a firm grass course… #5 Ring Weekend (9-2): Owns career best BRIS# (102) among starters in this event; has had a busy campaign and this will be his last race before getting some R&R per trainer G. Motion which might indicate he’s on a down cycle and vulnerable here… #6 – Xmas Sky (30-1): Needs the lead for any chance at winning but at least two others in here (#1 and #8) should make it tough on him; this 8-year-old is  2 for 5 on the Lrl lawn, makes  first start in a graded stakes… #8 – Special Ops (15-1): A nice $50k claim four races back has responded in the Mike Maker barn while adding blinkers to get the SHOW purse in a $100k stakes then winning his next/last two when on or just off the lead; needs to improve off those to earn the Hat Trick

Lovable Lady

Photo by Laurie Asseo.

Race 9 — JAMESTOWN STAKES

RACE PARTICULARS: Race 9 (4:30pm EDT), $60,000 purse for Registered VA Breds/VA Sired two-year-olds, 5½ furlongs (Turf)

SELECTIONS

  1. #7 Yes to the Dress (3-5): Filly is just one of two in here to have visited Winners’ Circle in her young, three race career so far; did that in gate-to-wire fashion over a “good” Del main surface; not bred for turf and the surface isn’t a strong suit of trainer Ron Moquett’s (2 for 33 with first time grass runners) but the way Lrl turf has been playing, if she gets the lead she may not look back
  2. #4 – Graceful Request (6-1): Exits seventh-place finish in career debut on turf which occurred here six weeks ago but this daughter of Scat Daddy still an 81 BRIS# as the winner came back be victorious in her next outing; gets more favorable post in second start which shouldn’t see her 4-wide on turn as was the case in first effort
  3. #8 – Virginia Fable (8-1): Fractious prior to her first start nearly 3 months ago but engaged the early leader but could not keep pace; that was on dirt and afterwards waited 2-months to log a work followed by a bullet from the gate twelve days later; one of three Susan Cooney trainees in here (#1 and #4 are the other two)     
  4. #2 – Here and Now (8-1): Daughter of Include out of a Bluegrass Cat mare does not scream turf sprinter, especially for first career start but why not take advantage of the nice purse restricted VA kin; a Keeneland $90k yearling purchase has more workouts than can fit on the page

You can also click here to get a two-page PDF version of this guide.

THE REST OF THE FIELD

#1 Wolverette (12-1): Maiden filly making third career start did improve when moved from dirt to turf and being equipped with blinkers; will be forced to gun from the rail which might be a good thing as not many others in here have shown early speed… #3 – Clark’s Kryptonite (15-1): First-time starter is a son of Aikenite out of a Successful Appeal mare made to sprint but not necessarily on turf; just one of two colts entered among six fillies; gaps in work pattern are not ideal but trainer has done well (22%) in non-graded stakes events over the past few years… #5Holding Fast (15-1): Makes Gives grass a try in fourth career start; broke maiden v. $25kMCL at Belterra then got annihilated in similar stakes to this at Ellis Park; issues at the break in both losses… #6 Wicked Sister (20-1): Filly makes second start after getting an education in debut on dirt when she broke slow, raced 5-6 wide but did show late interest to claim fourth; trainer looking for first winner with a first-time on turf runner and in a non-graded stakes race

Lovable Lady

Just Howard. Photo by Laurie Asseo.

Race 11 — GRADE 3 COMMONWEALTH DERBY

RACE PARTICULARS: Race 11 (5:30pm EDT), Grade III $200,000 purse for three-year-olds, 1 1/8 miles (Turf)

SELECTIONS

  1. #4 – Voodoo Song (8-5): Only runner who has ever had the lead at the first call, not to mention second and stretch call as well; 4 for 4 since joining Linda Rice’s barn, from $40k Claimer to G3 Saranac; hard to imagine that streak ending here considering he’ll face no early pressure and the Lrl turf has been fairly kind to early speed while yielding very fast fractions
  2. #1 Final Copy (6-1): Only competitor in this field to have earned a triple-digit BRIS# (101) which this gray did in her most recent effort when losing a headbob at WO going 3/8 mile further than he’ll have to today; that snapped a three-race win streak… all at WO; shows a quartet of works and appears to be retaining top form
  3. #3 – Just Howard (12-1): Emerging local turf start has won last three starts coincidently or not since adding blinkers; MD-bred son of English Channel is still learning as he’s been tough to rate; loves the distance and it’s the perfect time to see just how good he is when in against graded stakes foes  
  4. #5 – Profiteer (5-2): Visits fifth different venue for seventh career outing; 3-time turf winner hails from “Shug” McGaughey barn but needs to prove sub-par effort in G3 Transylvania at Keeneland does not indicate he’s a cut below this level; should like the stretch out

You can also click here to get a two-page PDF version of this guide.

THE REST OF THE FIELD

#2Master Plan (15-1): Todd Pletcher trainee famous for running behind Thunder Snow and Epicharis in G2 UAE Derby this Spring threw in a clunker at Saratoga Labor Day weekend in G3 Saranac (8th by 15) when 23-1 following a runner-up effort in G3 Kent on Del turf … #6 Dover Cliffs (6-1): Best efforts came at GP in first three career starts then struggled in minor stakes at Pimlico and Belmont before facing a weaker stakes group on the Monmouth turf to be runner-up; faces much tougher in this graded event … #7 – Bronson (8-1): Last of four stakes runners on the card for Mike Maker who recently got this gray from Pletcher’s barn; SHOWed in first start for new conditioner and gets 8 lb. relief which could be significant as he’s 4:3-1-0 when carrying under 120 but will need to improve a few lengths to be heard from in deep stretch here… #8 – Threeohtwocassie (20-1): Seeks fourth win in a row as trainer Anthony Pecoraro seeks first graded stakes; addition of blinkers seems to have been the magical solution to recent success and gradual improvement of speed figures but need an unlikely pace meltdown to pass all rivals    

Lovable Lady

Two Notch Road. Photo by Laurie Asseo.

Race 1 — BERT ALLEN STAKES

RACE PARTICULARS: 12:30 p.m., $60,000 purse, 1 1/16 miles (turf), Virginia-bred/Virginia-sired 3yo and up

SELECTIONS

  1. #1 Special Envoy (2-5): Trainer Delacour said following this one’s eight-length win last out against similar August that this would be the next spot, and he arrives here looking for a hat trick of Va. stakes in 2017… Has versatility to lead, stalk, or close, though inside post makes a sharp break imperative… Showing three solid works since easy-as-can-be Hansel victory and reunites with jock Centeno…. He’s the one to beat here…
  2. #6 Speed Gracer (6-1): Ran third in the first two Va-bred stakes of the year and last out sprung a front-running 12-1 upset against allowance foes… Jockey Acosta, who won last with this one, stays aboard… Trainer Cooney always arrives with live runners for Va. races and this one figures to be no exception
  3. #7 River Date (3-1): Five-year-old has changed hands in three straight races, one streak, at least, that’ll be snapped here… Pioneerof the Nile gelding has never tried turf; though Pioneer’ hasn’t been a great turf sire, he hasn’t been bad either and himself won a race on the green (plus four graded stakes on synthetic); dam How Bout Tonight won once on the turf, too, and recorded her best-ever Beyer on turf… If he can maintain his dirt form here, he’s a factor…
  4. #2 Runninginthevale (30-1): Ok, sure, this Gary Capuano trainee is 0-for-7 on the turf, and, yes, just finished seventh against N1X rivals… but note that last year in this event he zoomed to the early lead and held on to be fourth… He sharpened up with two turf sprints and figures likely to be winging it in front here, for just as far as he can… Capuano has a 23 percent strike rate going sprint to route…

Race 3 — BROOKMEADE STAKES

RACE PARTICULARS: 1:30 p.m., $60,000 purse, 1 1/16 miles (turf), Virginia-bred/Virginia-sired fillies and mares, 3yo and up

SELECTIONS

  1. #7 Sweet Sandy (6-1): Won the Backer two back over yielding ground, and follow-up in G3 company wasn’t bad; winner Harmonize is a former G1 winner… Will be running late and major challenge here is whether sufficient pace will develop… In career-best form now and only runner here who offers value on the morning line…
  2. #4 Queen Caroline (2-1): Ran willingly enough to be third two back over yielding ground she may not have liked at even-money… Follow-up was a decent second at SUF, defeated by post-time fave… May appreciate firmer turf than last local try and figures to be close to a likely moderate pace…
  3. #2 Armoire (8-5): Gacked up a four-length in the final furlong last out after perfect trip got her through on rail… has finished behind two of today’s rivals, which makes her a tough sell at 8-5, but no question Delacour and jockey Centeno know where the wire is, and she more than fits here
  4. #6 Zenbennie (15-1): Connex liked what they saw enough in maiden score to wheel back in the $100k Hall of Fame at PRX, where this Cosa Vera filly gave a more than adequate accounting of herself to be third at 45-1… Shows up here on just two weeks rest, which suggests she’s doing well. We’re guessing Northern Eclipse scratches to head to sprint company where she’s done best work, which would leave this one loose on the lead…

Race 5 — PUNCH LINE STAKES

RACE PARTICULARS: 2:30 p.m., $60,000 purse, 5 1/2 furlongs (turf), Virginia-bred/Virginia-sired 3yo and up

SELECTIONS

  1. #2 Two Notch Road (8-5): Old-timer (10y0!) rallied to get up late two back vs. similar and has made a nice living beating up on Va-breds the last couple of years… G3 Turf Monster, which came up very salty, was a little too tough for him last out but back among his own kind has every right to run well here… He’s the one they’ll need to beat…
  2. #5 Awake the Day (8-1): Reasonably likely trainer Bailes picks the Oakley over this spot for this mare (though the Oakley might be tougher)… If not, she’s capable of running well here… Had an adventurous trip when fourth in the Camptown last out, rank and steadied early, loomed, but faded late… A better break puts her in the early running here and gives her a fighting shot to run on late…
  3. #4 Homespun Hero (5-1): Three-back fourth in the Meadow Stable might have been better than it looked; a slow break left this one a lot to do and he stuck with it to earn fourth… If he can break more alertly, that would help here… Sheldon Russell back aboard also a good sign, and this one has run credibly in a couple of follow-up efforts and shows a sharp work on 9/23 in preparation…
  4. #7 Lime House Louie (6-1): This sophomore Limehouse gelding has been third twice against similar and likely still has some improvement to come… May not have liked the yielding ground he’s faced in his last two and figures to catch firm turf here… Jockey Karamanos has been known to spring the upset on the turf course… Will be running late…

Race 6 — OAKLEY STAKES

RACE PARTICULARS: 3:00 p.m., $60,000 purse, 5 1/2 furlongs (turf), Virginia-bred/Virginia-sired fillies and mares 3yo and up

SELECTIONS

  1. #2 Northern Eclipse (5-2): Just held against similar to win the Camptown three back, and she’s continued to run well since… Struggled through an adventurous trip in last but rallied for the show spot and looks poised to run well here… Jockey Davis and trainer McMahon have done well together…
  2. #11 Exaggerated (2-1): Company lines — note presence of the terrific Lady Shipman, G1 winner Lady Aurelia — and resume say this one’s the winner… But 2-1 odds give pause on a runner who finished eighth against similar at 3-10 two back and hasn’t seemed the same horse in her last two… No value on offer here, but if right, she wins this for fun… Scratched out of the Sensible Lady 9/16 to await this spot…
  3. #10 Do What I Say (6-1): Hard-luck Street Magician filly found the range three back to upset the Gilpin and followed that up with a credible try when third in the Camptown over yielding ground she may not have relished… Didn’t show much in last after a wide journey, but her best is good enough here… Wheeling back on less than two weeks’ rest says she’s ready to rolll…
  4. #7 Cross Roads (20-1): Bombs away! Trainer Gaudet sent first-off-the-claim John Jones out to a 40-1 upset in the Mister Diz last year, and you’ll get — and deserve — every penny of similar odds if this one somehow finds something unexpected and gets the money here…

You can also get a two-page PDF version of this guide by clicking here.

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