HORSES TO WATCH
- LOCAL THRILLER – This one was off slow and missed the break in last but overcame that and made up ground steadily to the stretch before his early problems caught up with him. Deserves another chance with same class maidens.
- IRISH ACCESS – Dueled from the start of last then drew off late for a decisive win over a track that favored closers and stalkers all day. Could win right back off that effort.
- APOLODORODEDAMASCO – Was squeezed and shuffled back early in last against a tough field of sprinters but recovered to be closing well late at 82-to-1. Might surprise a like field next, especially at bit longer distance.
- ANNAPOLIS CLASS – Wired a field over a strip that was definitely not a speed favoring surface. Has classy connections and might be able to handle a jump up in class for next.
- LIMITED VIEW – Winner of the Maryland Million Lassie looks to be holding that solid form, working a half in 47.80 for trainer Saltzman on 12/1.
- ALIGN THE NUMBERS – Donna Lockard maiden who finished a very credible third at a big price in her debut with a strong field came back with a quick half-mile drill of :46.20 on 12/2. That first race was run in 1:10 and change and this one deserves a long look next start.
- MISS HOT STONE – New York-bred who won last at Aqueduct, drilled five furlongs in 1:00.60 for Ollie Figgins on 12/2. Watch for this one in the entries at Aqueduct soon.
- THE GREAT RONALDO – Was disqualified from a win last out at Charles Town but strong five furlong move of 1.01 on 12/1 indicates this Saltzman runner is ready to atone for that DQ.
JOCKEYS AND TRAINERS
Jevian Toledo strengthened his hold on the top spot in the overall rider’s race by booting home six winners from 19 mounts. That left him with a commanding 13-win advantage over Sheldon Russell in second, with Feargal Lynch another win farther back in third.
Russell missed a day of racing at Laurel during the weekend to ride three horses in Claiming Crown races at Gulfstream Park, and in his three days on the grounds was winless in 13 starts.
Lynch, Jomar Torres and Kevin Gomez each won three races. Lynch was particularly economical with his riding opportunities. He made just eight starts in four days, and his results tab showed three wins and a second from those eight starts.
Rosario Montanez also made the most of his opportunities, winning two races from just five mounts.
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Graham Motion’s classy operation showed again last week why it’s one of the top stables in the country. Motion won with four of the seven horses he sent to the post, and those runners earned more than $100,000 in purses. Motion’s average purse per start was a healthy $15,763. Those wins pushed Motion to 11 on the meet and moved him into a tie for eighth place among trainers by wins at the meet.
Jamie Ness will keep the bulk of his stable in Maryland this winter instead of racing at Tampa Bay Downs, and he also won four races last week to tie Motion for the lead (though Ness took 12 races to do it). Look for Ness to make his presence felt in the coming months.
Hamilton “Ham” Smith, the savvy South Carolina horseman, continues to send out winners, capturing three races last week. Smith is fourth behind Claudio Gonzalez in the overall standings for the fall meeting with 16 wins.
Gonzalez, who won twice during the weekend, has a five-win lead over Dale Capuano atop the standings. Capuano had a rough weekend, winless in 10 starts, but his overall numbers remain strong: 19 wins, a 26 percent strike rate, and a $2 ROI of $3.26.
TRACK BIAS REPORT
- 12/01 – The surface continues to favor stalkers and closers with horses making middle moves in the middle of the strip from the three path on out finding the most success.
- 12/02 – Track played fair with a slight edge to horses stalking and prompting the pace outside.
- 12/03 – Stalker/closer favoring surface continued. Any horses winning on the front end during this period and overcoming the bias should be noted.
- 12/04 – Stalkers and closers dominated again with the exception of the last, which was won in front-running fashion.