HORSES TO WATCH
- CANNON’S ROAR – This one was boxed and forced to steady at a crucial point leaving the turn of his last, losing momentum and killing off any chance he had. Cleaner trip makes this one a threat next.
- WILD DYNAFORMER – Was the victim of some weak handling and was also in tight when in a striking position in the stretch of last. Another whose chances moves way up with a clean trip.
- SMILE BIG – Was hung 4-5 wide to the second turn of two turn route last. Still made an honest bid for the lead to mid stretch before weakening. This one would be a perfect candidate for an upset win turning back to one turn, perhaps 7 furlongs next start.
- BALLIVOR – Bobbled at the break of last and was also widest of all rallying in the stretch but overcame all these problems to be up late while covering 7 furlongs in 1:22 and change. This was a big effort and a move to stakes company wouldn’t be out of the question for this one.
- DIXIE ROSE – Checked at the break of last, then was widest of the field trying to close late. Went out very well after the race and looks like she would appreciate more distance, maybe 7 furlongs.
- TRICKY LION – Maiden coming off a solid second in a sprint run in 1:10.64 worked a solid half mile in :49.00 on 12/6 for Dale Capuano and shouldn’t be long leaving the winless ranks.
- ROYAL HUSSAR – This one was second in a 7-furlong sprint run in 1:23.69 in his last and came back to indicate he’s still sharp with a five furlong move of 1:01.00 for Hamilton “Ham” Smith on 12/08.
- HEAD FOR THE SHORE – Jesus Cruz maiden who was second to a well meant Delacour first-time starter drilled a solid six furlongs in 1:12.20 on 12/10.
- AWESOME BANNER – Was a troubled fifth in the Smart Strike Stakes last but indicates he’s ready to improve on that outing with a sharp half-mile of :47.20 on 12/09 for the hot stable of Kenneth Decker.
JOCKEYS AND TRAINERS
With Trevor McCarthy planning to move to New York and Victor Carrasco still rehabbing from injuries suffered in a spill at Delaware Park and expected to be sidelined until late February or early March, a lot of people are wondering who will emerge as the top dog of the Maryland jockey colony when all is said and done.
Jevian Toledo is making a strong bid for the top spot. Toledo has been the hottest rider at Laurel this fall and continued his torrid pace last week, winning seven races from 22 mounts over Laurel’s most recent racing weekend. That represented a winning percentage of 32 percent and raised Toledo’s win total for the fall meeting to 52. He has 19 more wins than Sheldon Russell, who’s in second position, and 20 more than third-place Feargal Lynch.
Jorge Vargas Jr., a Parx regular who has been riding at Laurel of late, also impressed this past week, winning on four of the six mounts he accepted. R.O.I (Return on investment) for Vargas’ mounts was a whopping 253 percent.
On the trainer’s side of the slate, Kieron Magee had a big week, sending out four winners from eight starters, while Jamie Ness had another good week with three wins from six horses sent to the post.
Kenneth Decker and Richard Vega each won with both horses they ran last week. Decker’s R.O.I. was a whopping 660 percent, while Vega’s was 700 percent.
For the meet to date, Claudio Gonzalez retains a comfortable lead over Magee and Dale Capuano, who are tied for second. Those two, along with Ham Smith, Graham Motion, and Gary Capuano all have positive ROIs for the meet, meaning that a bettor who’d bet $2 to win on every horse they have sent out would be in the black for the meet.
TRACK BIAS REPORT
- 12/08 – The strip favored speed on this Friday card and horses travelling inside seem to be quicker and less tiring than usual.
- 12/09 – It snowed steadily throughout the afternoon on Saturday, and while wet tracks usually change throughout the day and different parts of the strip improve due to tire marks and where there is standing water, on this afternoon one bias was clear: Horses on or near the lead held on well and many kicked on from the top of the lane home, while very few horses made up much ground through the stretch or along the outside. Handicappers should mark frustrated closers that come out of this program as they could well show marked improvement over a dry surface that plays fair or is partial to stalkers and closers.
- 12/10 – The surface, which dried out quite a bit following the snows of Saturday, played fair as both speed types and late runners won races on the program.
- 12/11 – Speed types and close up stalkers racing from the three path on out were the most successful on Monday’s card as the rail looked to be a bit dull and tiring.