Laurel Park: Spot plays and horses to watch, November 4
Gary Quill is taking a brief hiatus from his GQ Approach full-card picks and analysis. In his stead, we present daily spot plays and horses to watch. Good luck!
First post today is 12:30 p.m. for Breeders’ Cup Saturday. The jackpot Rainbow 6 has a carryover of $20,637.12, and the Super Hi 5 has a carryover of $1,540.67. Eleven races are on the card.
- She may not be an enticing wager, — at a morning line of just 5-2 — but in the second race, a third-level allowance, #2 Tale for Ruby (5-2) bears watching. A year ago, the daughter of Tale of Ekati looked like she might develop into something pretty good after she shipped down to Laurel to win the Safely Kept by a couple lengths. She’s won only once in four tries this year, though, and her last two, against graded foes, have made pretty clear that she’s not that type; she finished sixth in the Grade 3 Distaff at the Big A and ninth in the Grade 3 Bed o’ Roses at Belmont. She shifts from Barclay Tagg’s barn into Jason Egan’s for this tussle, and Forest Boyce will ride. It’s a short but rugged field that includes Jameela winner #1 Daylight Ahead (10-1) trying to find the range on the dirt; improving #3 Renaissance Rosie (2-1), making her second start for trainer Kevin Patterson; and others. Patterson is winning at a virtually nonsensical 47 percent rate this year and 39 percent for the last five years, but get this: he’s just one-for-13 at Laurel.
- There are a couple of maiden events for juveniles on the card, the first of which, the fifth, is a 5 1/2 furlong turf sprint for fillies. The favorite in here is #3 Flax Flower (2-1), and there’s plenty to like; the Lacey Gaudet trainee was a good second against similar in her debut after an eventful trip. The education she received that day is sure to help, and you’ll likely want to include her in most of your wagers. There’s more value — and we’re more curious about — a horse that didn’t run well on debut. #7 Meetmeonline (20-1) flashed a bit of speed before fading from the scene in her debut in a race that was taken off the turf to the main track. Beyond her having been entered for the turf last time, there’s reason to think this one will prefer the green stuff; her half-brother Bucchero is a graded stakes winner at this distance on the lawn and is entered in today’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.
- The seventh is another maiden event, this one going 1 1/16 miles on the turf for two-year-olds, and it’s drawn a full and contentious field. We’re buying the idea that the September 24 race that’s produced three in here — #7 Promontory (3-1), #9 My Brothersledge (10-1), and #10 Say the Word (7-2) — was a key race; the winner returned to win a Canadian G3 race, and the third-place finisher won a maiden special at Keeneland. This trio finished within less than two lengths of each other. We’re inclined to give the edge to Promontory, who finished ahead of the other two in what was his career debut and today receives Lasix for the first time, but note that rider Feargal Lynch picks Say the Word. Say the Word was seventh after a rough trip and will don blinkers. My Brothersledge set a contested pace before fading to seventh that day; he’s a full to Maryland Million Ladies winner My Sistersledge, is the only one of the trio to have a race in the interim, and may offer the best value of the trio.
- OK, we’re a sucker for an old-timer. The ninth is a turf sprint starter allowance contested under lifetime conditions. For Pete’s sake, don’t bet on #2 Scrapple (30-1); he never — ever — wins, just twice in 66 career starts. He’s earned over $100,000 the hard way, a few hundred here, a couple thousand there. But root for him all the same. He has a great name, at age seven he’s running more or less as well as he ever has (top Beyer this year: 68, last year: 67, lifetime: 70), and he usually runs a decent race (for him) when properly spotted. So don’t bet on him, but if he wins, do go to track apron by the winner’s circle and give him a cheer.
- The tenth is a one-mile entry-level allowance on the turf for fillies and mares. The deserving favorite in here is #8 Riley’s Choice (8-5); the Sagamore Farm homebred has two seconds in three turf tries and ran a close-up sixth in the Christiecat stakes at Belmont in September; four of the top five from that one returned to win their next. This miss barely lost her follow-up, coughing up a three-length lead in the stretch. Others worth considering here include #11 Star Crush (9-2); she made her first turf try a winning one last out, and the runner-up returned to throttle Keeneland maidens by six lengths. Another runner we’re intrigued by is #7 Goiaba (12-1). She was ultra-impressive in winning her debut by a half-dozen lengths while sprinting on the main track, but her two follow-ups have been, at best, bland. She’s bred to be a star, though, and you have to believe — at this point, anyway — that the debut wasn’t a fluke. She tries turf for the first time here, and it’ll be interesting to see if she takes to it.