Laurel Park Racing Notebook, Vol. 7
by Frank Vespe
Our new Laurel Park racing notebook gives you the scoop on the weekend’s racing, even if you couldn’t make it out. Horses to watch, headlines from the weekend, leading jocks and trainers — it’s all here.
Check it out below.
GQ’S HORSES TO WATCH
- Jehozacat – Lael Stables (aka Greta & Roy Jackson) may have a future star as this home-bred, two-year-old gray full sister to Divining Rod (third to American Pharoah in the 2015 Preakness). She made her debut looking very professional, winning by 5 1/4 lengths traveling the five furlongs in 58.47.
- Wild Kong – Three-year-old Florida-bred gelding by Biondetti out of a Pico Central mare made debut in a $16,000 maiden claimer, was bet down from 15-1 morning line in early wagering, traveled nicely into the far turn, then steadied between rivals at the half pole, continued to engage rivals into the stretch, made a late move along the rail but clipped heels when tiring leader drifted in near the 1/8 pole. Finished fifth but was moved up to fourth via DQ due to that interference in the stretch.
- Hissy Fit – Took up shortly after the break in a first allowance, off-the-turf sprint. Instinctively rushed into contention but had little energy left for the stretch run.
- Mr. Benz – In a $16,000 beaten claiming 5 1/2 furlong dirt sprint originally scheduled on the turf, hopped at the start spotting field about 5-lengths yet still made a nice run down the stretch on a surface that favored early speed. It was the five-year-old gelding’s first fast track start in his 15th career outing and most likely will not be his last.
- Paper Dollie – Making third start after six-month layoff did not scratch from open 5 1/2 furlong $11,000 Claimer when taken off the turf even though past 7 races had been run on the turf and was previously off-the-board in only two fast track tries, got knocked sideways shortly after exciting the starting gate and was disinterested from that point finishing sixth out of seven starters and returned bleeding.
- Bestkindoftrouble – MD-bred, gelded 3-year-old son of Shackleford was quick from the gate in his debut, chasing a speedy eventual winner (The Hardest Way), moved on even terms at 5/16th but blew the turn, going about 8-wide before jock could get him back on track at the top of the lane and still showed heart just missing the place spot by a nose. Expect blinkers to be added for next start and rider switch to Sheldon Russell.
- The Hardest Way graduates in third career start
- Jehozacat dazzles in debut score, wins by over five
- Off-turf scratches lead to Saturday match race won by Expressly
- Jockey Russell powers to seven wins during weekend racing
- Trainers Maldonado, Gonzalez score weekend hat tricks
JOCKEYS AND TRAINERS
In the table at right, we’ve sorted the jockeys by how they rank as a wagering matter — by return on $2 investment — and how they rank by earnings per start. We multiplied the two figs together, set the median of all riders with at least 20 mounts at the meet to 1.00, and divided each jock’s total by the average. So a jockey whose “value over replacement” comes to 2.00 has an ROI x EPS figure that is twice as high as the median jockey.
This list includes just the top nine on this measurement, and we can see that Alex Cintron — with a 27 percent strike rate and high earnings per start — is clearly the top of the heap right now. The big surprise in the top nine is Carlos Quinones; he has just three wins 48 starts and a paltry earnings per start of less than $2,000 — but his wagering ROI is high because two of his three winners paid more than $90.
Last weekend was pretty much the Sheldon Russell show. Russell won four times on Saturday and seven overall on the weekend, from 19 starts. No other jock won more than three times. Victor Carrasco, with 29 wins to date, is six clear of Russell for the overall lead.
[table id=183 /]
In the table at left, we’ve sorted the trainers by how they rank as a wagering matter — by return on $2 investment — and how they rank by earnings per start. We multiplied the two figs together, set the median of all trainers with at least 10 starters at the meet to 1.00, and divided each trainer’s total by the average. So a trainer whose “value over replacement” comes to 2.00 has an ROI x EPS figure that is twice as high as the median trainer.
It’s not too surprising that Arnaud Delacour — with a high-end stable hitting at 53 percent — leads all trainers by a wide margin in this measure. Delacour leads the meet in earnings per start at over $17,000. What’s more interesting is to see some other trainers with smaller stables and fewer winners — for example, Susan Cooney, Jason Egan, Dale Capuano, and Phil Schoenthal — move into the top ranks by virtue of strong strike rates (Egan has won with one-third of his starters) and high ROIs (Cooney’s tops $5 per $2 wager).
Jonathan Maldonado and Claudio Gonzalez had the best results last weekend. Each won three times, with Maldonado’s three wins coming from just six starters. Four trainers won two apiece. The three wins for Gonzalez enabled him to take a slim, one-win lead over Kieron Magee in the trainer race, 15-14, with Mike Trombetta in third with 11 wins to date.