Something Awesome

Something Awesome ran through the snow to win the Grade 3 General George. Photo by Laurie Asseo.

by Frank Vespe

In which we pick the races from Laurel Park each day…

Post time: 12:30 p.m.

Carryovers: Rainbow 6 — $1,330; Super Hi 5 – $403

Stat of the day: Claudio Gonzalez, who led the Laurel fall meet with 47 wins, also had the lowest average win payoff of  any trainer at the track with at least eight wins. Gonzalez’ horses paid a paltry $5.85 per win. Thus far during the winter meet, his three winners have averaged just $4.80. Lesson: he wins all the time, so you have to use him in your multi-race wagers, but generally you’ll want to look elsewhere for value in the win spot. He has four entered today.

ANALYSIS

The lid-lifter today is a $12,500 never-won-two claimer for older runners going 5 1/2 furlongs, and we’re inclined — blech! — towards the chalk in here. #2 Top Czar (7-5) crushed $25,000 maiden claimers to graduate two back and here drops from much better company in search of win #2. He also may appreciate a return to a fast surface, on which he’s finished in the top three in three of four starts… And it just gets worse! In the second, we’re on #1 Dancingwithpaynter (3-5) despite looking desperately for a better alternative. This guy is 0-for-7 on the main track — his lone career win came on the grass — and he’s failed as the favorite three times on the page, including at 3-5 last out. But the field doesn’t offer many choices, particularly after two scratches, so… Dancingwithpaynter it is… The third is a $12,5000 claimer for three-year-old fillies going a mile, and we’re going to try to beat the fave in here, taking instead #6 Fifteen K (9-2). The Jose Corrales trainee will try a mile here after running evenly against much better going six furlongs. Her two prior tries at longer distances — 7 furlongs and 1 1/16 miles — weren’t promising, but both were against much better and may be forgivable. Corrales will leg up bug boy Felix Pinero here; two of Pinero’s three career wins have come for Corrales trainees…

PICKS

  • RACE 1
    • 2-5-7-3
  • RACE 2
    • 1-6-2-7
    • Scr: 3, 5
  • RACE 3 
    • 6-1A-3-4
    • Scr: 1

ANALYSIS

Jockey Angel Suarez leaves the favorite in race 4 — #9 Little United (2-1) — to ride #1A Prestons Princess (5-1), which generally isn’t a great sign. But it might not be as meaningful as it looks; Suarez is a go-to rider for Ness (90 mounts in 2018-19), and the jock may just want to remain in the trainer’s good graces. The fave in here enters with dominant back-to-back wins against lesser and has been an entirely different horse since Anthony Farrior claimed her and added blinkers. A horse worth a gander in here at a price is #4 Dat Dares Gold (15-1); the speed figs are light for this Valora Testerman trainee, but she has competed against similar recently… Nickel never-won-two claimers take center stage in the fifth, and the top choices in here on the morning line — #5 Corvid (9-5) and #1 Girl Drama (2-1) — both feel vulnerable. The former has lost at this level three times on the page and is 0-for-13 on the main track, while the latter has lost two straight against similar. Either could win — though we’d certainly lean towards Girl Drama of the pair — but we decided to take the plunge on #6 C V’s Wild Child (9-2). The Hugh McMahon trainee broke her maiden last out — albeit, against West Virginia-bred maiden claimers — and lands in the proper spot here in a race in which she might just be the main speed… The sixth is a starter handicap going 5 1/2 furlongs, and the chalk is #7 Bye Bye Blues (9-5), who enters with back-to-back wins, the second in a second-level allowance, and is 5-for-6 at the trip. But with some other speedy types in here — including #3 Sudden Hope (15-1) and #4 Polite Pearl (4-1), Bye Bye Blues may find working out her typical front-running trip to be a bit more complicated than she’d like. That would give a big boost to our top choice, #2 S W Briar Rose (4-1), the George Albright trainee who won against similar last out, has three wins at the trip, and owns the best ability to close in the field…

PICKS

  • RACE 4
    • 9-6-5-4
  • RACE 5 
    • 6-1-10-5
    • Scr: 3
  • RACE 6
    • 2-7-1-5

ANALYSIS

Talk about class relief: #5 Took Over (7-2) drops from $16,000 starters to $8,000 claimers in race seven and ran competitively three back at the $20,000 level. The favorite in here is #3 Young American (2-1), who is rising in class in the midst of a four-race win streak while cutting back to a distance at which he’s 2-for 2… The featured eighth race is a second-level allowance going six furlongs, and it is a wide-open affair. The favorite in here — #2 Classic Cotton (2-1) — is making his first start in Javier Contreras’ barn and his first on dirt since December 2017. We’re more inclined to take a wait-and-see attitude on this one than to take short odds, so we looked elsewhere, and in a race that’s pretty light on legit sprint speed, we thought the rounding-into-form #8 Greatbullsoffire (7-2) might be able to work out a good trip from the outside with Trevor McCarthy up to earn his first win since ’16. We’re also using #9 Eastern Bay (10-1) in this spot, which we keep doing to our own detriment; trainer Ferris Allen keeps liking what he sees enough to leave him at this level, so we’ll give this runner one more crack… We’re on the day’s big longshot in the finale, this in the form of #7 Appealing Henry (15-1). This one finally found the bottom last out at Parx, when he ran very poorly as the favorite; but he wouldn’t be the first horse who simply found the Parx strip not to his liking, and a return to his better form would make him a major player in here. Sheldon Russell is up for Mark Shuman. We love the value there but must acknowledge that he’ll need his best to topple the morning line favorite, #3 Do Yahwanna Salsa (8-5), who has run credible races in his last two against $16,000 claimers…

PICKS

  • RACE 7 
    • 5-3-8-2
    • Scr: 7
  • RACE 8
    • 8-9-4-7
  • RACE 9
    • 7-3-10-2
    • Scr: 8, 9

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