Who’re we watching? Let’s see what’s on tap in the mid-Atlantic this weekend:

    • Eight Dancers, Penn National, Saturday, Race 5 (7:49), Allowance N1X, Fillies and mares, 4yo and up, 1 mile
      • There’s plenty to talk you off this runner, starting with a low-percentage jock and low-percentage trainer, and she richly deserves her 10-1 morning line… But in a race of lightly accomplished runners, many of whom haven’t won at a route distance, her three wins at 1 mile 70 yards (just beyond today’s distance) give her at least that boost, plus her closing style could work to her advantage in a race with plenty of speed and several stretching-out sprinters.  Ran seventh last out against Parx starters, but that was on a speed-favoring track in which the final order was almost exactly the first call order; the only runner to make up much ground returned to beat similar to these… Work tab since that last, on December 20, solid enough.
    • Zapata, Laurel Park, Sunday, Race 6 (2:52), Maiden Special Weight, 3yo, 5 1/2 furlongs
      • Ghostzapper colt still hoping to emulate older half-sis Miss Behaviour, the two-time graded winner who was retired earlier this week… Sophomore’s had less than optimal trips in both prior tries, bumped at the start in his debut, hung out wide on the turn in his second, but gets Sheldon Russell back in the irons for this… PA-bred debuted at Laurel, made second run at Parx in vain search of the bigger pot there… Gets blinkers on for this try.  Will need to step forward to compete here, which isn’t yet out of the range, but if you’re inclined to bet, you’ll want every penny of that 5-1 morning line.
    • Any Court Inastorm, Laurel Park, Sunday, Race 7 (3:31), Allowance N1x, 4yo and up, 6 furlongs
      • Can’t win much easier than this Jason Egan trainee did to break his maiden last out, galloping home under wraps to win by 9.  Maryland-bred Successful Appeal gelding is a half to a couple of useful runners and looks like he might be the best of the familial lot.  Only rival to run back from maiden score, Fuhr Gerry, dropped into maiden claiming company to win… Dial-back in distance seems to have done this one good; ran gamely two back, taking the lead in mid-stretch before finishing second to Awesome Bill (who’s here) at seven furlongs and rallied nicely to be second three back at a mile — but in this last, he turned an even race with a quarter to go into a runaway in the blink of an eye… Has the tactical speed to work out a good trip under Jevian Toledo in a race that doesn’t have a lot of true speed.
    • Bonita Luna, Parx Racing, Sunday, Race 8 (3:34), Allowance N1X, Fillies and mares, 4yo and up, 1 mile 70 yards
      • Improving daughter of Graeme Hall tries a route distance for the first time after seeing her two-race win streak snapped out against similar at Laurel… Denyse McClachrie trainee rallied gamely to be second, beat a half-length that day… May appreciate the added ground as she’s always seemed a little outfooted early while sprinting, and in her last she was under a drive from the 3/8 pole home… Has never been worse than second in three tries on conventional dirt… Shows a modest five furlong work since her last, and jockey Jorge Vargas (18 percent since the beginning of ’14) stays aboard… Though five, with just eight starts to her name, she’s still improving, and another step forward might be all she needs here at 8-1 morning line.