Laurel Park: Spot plays and horses to watch, December 22

by | Dec 22, 2017 | Breaking, Handicapping, Maryland

Edgar Prado

Edgar Prado smiles after Always Thinking won the Sensible Lady Turf Dash. Photo by Dottie Miller.

Gary Quill is taking a brief hiatus from his GQ Approach full-card picks and analysis. In his stead, we present daily spot plays and horses to watch. Good luck!

First post today 12:30 p.m. The late Pick 5 has no carryover. The Super Hi 5 has no carryover. The Jackpot Rainbow Pick 6 has no carryover. Nine races are on the card, all on the dirt.

  • The third race is a nickel claimer going seven furlongs on the dirt. Our choice in here is #3 Here’s Johnny (5-1) from the Kieron Magee barn, a runner looking to recapture his better form while dropping from better company. Bug boy Wes Hamilton is up, and if the morning line is about right, you’ll get a square price on this one. The horse to watch in here — for entirely different reasons — #5 Tug of War (6-1). This eight-year-old Rudy Rodriguez trainee has lost his last two starts by a combined 102 1/4 lengths — that is not a misprint. You have to imagine if he doesn’t improve dramatically very quickly, it’ll be off to retirement for him — which probably is the right answer. You can’t take 6-1 on a horse who’s lost two straight by a billion lengths, so this guy is one to watch only.


  • Race 1 – 4-5-1-6
  • Race 2 – 4-3-6-1
  • Race 3 – 3-7-1-5
  • Race 4 – 1-2-7-3
  • Race 5 – 3-1-4-7
  • Race 6 – 6-3-5-10
  • Race 7 – 4-6-7-2
  • Race 8 – 3-5-8-4
  • Race 9 – 3-7-5-10

  • Race four is a maiden special weight for two-year-old fillies going six furlongs. We’ll be watching two runners in here. #1 Safwah (9-5) ran a credible second last out, which was her career debut. The Graham Motion trainee is a half-sis to Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming, and she’s by Medaglia d’Oro, which is to say, she’s bred to be any kind. She gets Lasix here for her second start, and Motion is 8-for-24 adding Lasix to second-start maiden two-year-olds. Feargal Lynch is up. We’re also watching the amusingly named #2 No (5-1). The daughter of Animal Kingdom is out of the Forestry mare Taboo. Her three-year-old half-sister, Blind Pool, broke her maiden last week at Gulfstream, and Animal Kingdom has the look of a very productive sire. The Phil Schoenthal trainee will have Sheldon Russell up, and that duo has done well together, with a 23 percent strike rate and a $3.25 ROI. She’ll be making her debut here.
  • The featured eighth is a second-level allowance going six furlongs, and our horse to watch is #3 Joy Drive (2-1). The Linda Rice trainee has been away since March, but has been training well enough, and regularly enough, towards his return here. Prior to his break, he’d been running pretty well, having just won a first allowance with an 84 Beyer, one race after having run third to the very talented Laki. Rice has sent seven horses to the post at Laurel off similar breaks in recent years; four of them have won.