- Laurel Park 2 (1:03 p.m.) – Frank Whiteley, Jr. S., 3yo, 7 furlongs
- Laurel Park 4 (1:59 p.m.) – Marshua S., 3yo fillies, 6 furlongs
- Laurel Park 6 (2:56 p.m.) – Nellie Morse S., 4yo and up fillies and mares, 1 1/16 miles
- Laurel Park 8 (3:55 p.m.) – Fire Plug S., 4yo and up, 6 furlongs[/boxify]
As 2014 begins, Laurel Park kicks off the year with four stakes on Saturday, and there’s action around the region. Action, of course, means questions, such as…
- Can any of the three year-old runners in the two Laurel sophomore stakes stamp themselves as contenders for bigger prizes down the road? On the boys’ side, the most likely future star is the With Distinction colt Jessethemarine, the upset winner of the James F. Lewis, III in November who then ran second in the Marylander to Joint Custody, easy winner of the Maryland Juvenile Championship last week. He’s 4-5 in the morning line. On the girls’ side, Gracer is 4-5 coming off a front-running score against Pennsylvania-bred company in the Blue Mountain Juvenile Fillies at Penn National; but it’s her earlier efforts that stamp her as a potential future star. She broke her maiden in handy fashion at Saratoga back in August and then ran a good third in Grade 2 Matron at Belmont. Her test won’t be an easy one, though, as stake winners Jonesin for Jerry (9-2) and Bacopa Breeze (7-2) figure to offer challenges.
- Can Tony Dutrow bag a twofer? The Fair Hill-based conditioner sends down Gracer, the favorite in the Marshua, and Welcome Guest, favored to earn her first stake win in the Nellie Morse.
- Will weather win again? Tracks throughout the region have been forced to cancel racing repeatedly over the last month, with Parx hit hardest of all; the Bensalem track canceled 10 straight cards in December. Meanwhile, both Charles Town and Penn National canceled this evening’s racing. Which tracks will run Saturday and Sunday?
- Can the region’s two Penn National Gaming Inc. tracks — Charles Town and Penn National — hit the ground running? Penn National enjoyed a record 2013 in terms of handle, while Charles Town narrowly missed its third consecutive record year, ending the year with its second highest-ever handle. Both tracks’ Saturday cards are nondescript — Penn’s features five claiming races and four maiden claiming events — and the area’s weather may not help.
Good luck this weekend![boxify cols_use =”4″ cols =”4″ position =”none” order =”none” box_spacing =”5″ padding =”3″ border_width =”1″ border_color =”blue” border_style =”solid” height =”60″ ]