HORSES TO WATCH
- MOON VIRGINIA – Came from well off the pace and did it up the inside which is rare over the Laurel surface, angled three wide in the drive then ran down the 6-5 favorite in the final strides of last. Win follows a solid second the race previous, and this Ham Smith runner looks to be in top form right now.
- SKY CHAPARRAL – Rallied from far back and closed stoutly through a 24 3/5 final quarter behind the strong favorite trained by Rudy Rodriguez. If this one catches a field with a lot of speed in it next out he should be tough.
- FRIESING WATERS – Bobbled then had rider fall back in the saddle at the break last but still made up ground steadily to upper stretch before early troubles took their toll. Deserves another chance.
- IN HIM WITH HIM – Was boxed and heavily rated to the stretch then came up empty when finally clear inside in the drive in first career start. Should benefit from that effort and with better handling, could be sitting on a win soon.
- CORDMAKER – Intelligent youngster coming off a solid second last start continues to train well, working a strong half mile from the gate in :48 flat on 11/25.
- METALLIC – Been off since July but solid half of :48 flat indicates he’s about ready to return to action in sharp form.
- SERVICE FOR TEN – Has been sidelined since January but a quick half of :48 flat, the best of 59 workers at that distance, indicates this one will be one to watch when he shows up in the entries.
- IT’S THE JOURNEY – This one won four straight before a less-than-successful trip to run in the G2 Phoenix Stakes at Keeneland last start, but a very good five-furlong move of 1:01 3/5 on 11/26 says he’s one to watch when he returns to action over his home surface.
JOCKEYS AND TRAINERS
Sheldon Russell enjoyed a productive Thanksgiving weekend, winning six times from 18 mounts to lead all riders in the colony. Finally healthy, Russell has had a solid fall campaign locally and is currently second in the colony with 32 wins with a solid 16.75 percent strike rate.
Old-timer — and Hall of Famer — Edgar Prado had another good weekend, winning with five of 12 mounts. With a selective schedule — his 83 mounts are the fewest of any rider at Laurel in the top 16 by wins — he is winning at a high percentage and often with horses at a bit of a price. His 21 wins put him in a three-way tie for sixth overall, and his 25.3 win percentage is the highest of any rider who’s made at least 10 starts. What’s more he’s the only jock in the top 10 by wins with a positive wagering ROI; his mounts return $2.82 for each two-dollar wager.
The meet’s leader to date, Jevian Toledo won four times last weekend, while Julian Pimentel won three.
Dale Capuano and Hamilton “Ham” Smith, two of the mainstays on the Maryland circuit for a number of years, both had big weeks during Thanksgiving week with each sending out three winners.
Capuano won with three of the eight runners he saddled and continues to have a big meet. The winner of more than 3,000 races is 18-for-63 at the current meeting, good for second among all trainers by wins. He has a gaudy win rate 28.6 percent, and a healthy wagering return on investment of $3.66 for each two-dollar wager.
Smith took three of seven starts for a whopping return on investment of 264 percent. He has 13 wins at the meet and a nearly break-even wagering ROI of $1.96.
A trio of conditioners took two winners from six starters, topped by another Maryland veteran, Mary Eppler, whose return on investment was 488 percent. Ann Merryman and Jamie Ness both also won twice during the weekend.
TRACK BIAS REPORT
- 11/23 – Speed and close-up stalkers had the most success on this holiday card with the exception of the last race where the winner came from last.
- 11/24 – The strip continued to play to speed and close-up pace pursurers.
- 11/25 – Track played reasonably fair with horses making middle and stretch moves from the outside doing best.
- 11/26 – Track again played fair and again, horses making moves from the three path on out enjoyed the best results.