Laurel Park: Spot plays and horses to watch, December 31

by | Dec 31, 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!

Early first post today: 12:30 p.m. The late Pick 5 has no carryover. The Super Hi 5 has a carryover of $2,341.80. The Jackpot Rainbow Pick 6 has a carryover of $3,997.85. Eight races are on the card, all on the dirt.

  • The fifth is a salty maiden special weight event for two-year-olds going six furlongs on the main track. The favorite in here is #5 Maynooth (2-1), who certainly looks like he’ll break through one of these days after finishing second in similar company three times in four starts, but there’s no real value there. Our selection on top here is #4 Two Swords (5-1), who finished behind Maynooth last out in what was his career debut. Trainer Mike Trombetta puts the blinkers on for his second start. But our horse to watch here is #1a Jack of Spades (10-1). The Ken Decker trainee will make his career debut here and is slated to have JD Acosta in the irons. He is by Awesome of Course and out of the Tabasco Cat mare Sexy Stockings; that makes him a half-brother to Jackson Bend, the multiple Grade 1-winning earner of $1.8 million, and to Grande Shores, who’s won a couple of stakes and over $600,000. Recent foals out of the mare haven’t been much to shout about, but if this one can find what those older sibs found, he could be a productive runner.


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

  • The sixth is a $16,000 claimer for three-year-olds and for older runners that have never won three races. We’re giving a look here to #7 Parade of Nations (6-1). Trainer Claudio Gonzalez claimed this runner two back for $25,000, a day in which he ran poorly. But Gonzalez liked the horse enough to give him a shot last out in a second-level allowance against a rugged crew. That’s a solid vote of confidence, and rider Julian Pimentel staying aboard is another. He takes a sizable drop in company here, and if that helps him wake up, he could be tough at a seven-furlong distance at which he’s won both times he competed.