Laurel Park: Picks and ponderings Jan. 24, 2019

by | Jan 24, 2019 | Breaking, Handicapping, Maryland, MD Racing

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: Late Pick 5 — $3,791, Super Hi 5 — $539

Stat of the day: Leading trainers during the Laurel Park fall meet on off tracks: Claudio Gonzalez (10 wins), Kieron Magee (8), Mike Trombetta (7).


The rainy Thursday card kicks off with a pair of bottom-level maiden claimers, the first going 1 1/16 miles and the second 5 1/2 furlongs. In the lid-lifter, #3 Ash n’ Em (7-5) is a deserving favorite after running second against similar last out. But what’s fun about 7-5 — or about taking a heavy favorite in a bottom maiden race? We’ll try to beat her with #1 Alibarbara (3-1). The Tony Aguirre trainee was beaten a pole last out, but we wouldn’t sweat that too much; it was against much better, and she had to swerve sharply to the outside to avoid a nasty spill in front of her and then was eased through the lane. She ran credibly enough in her debut, and a repeat of that would put her in the mix here… There’s another heavy fave in R2, this time in the form of the Tom Morley trainee #7 Higher Purpose (8-5). The Warrior’s Reward gelding has run fairly competitvely against much better and figures to be a handful here. Our main concern — and the reason we’re trying to beat him — is that he appears to be one of several in here who’ll be vying for the early advantage. If so, you might want to giv a look to horses that figure to do their best work later on, and two that perhaps fit the bill are #2 New Stones (3-1), our top choice, and #1 Top Hat Voyager (9-2)… With the rainy weather, one horse who figures to move up in race three is #7 Stone Crazy (5-1). The Scott Lake trainee has won six of 16 career starts on off tracks — more wins than all of his seven rivals combined…


  • RACE 1
    • 1-3-5-6
  • RACE 2
    • 2-7-1-6
    • Scr: 1A, 4, 5
  • RACE 3 
    • 1-7-8-2
    • Scr: 9


The fourth is a pretty intriguing starter allowance in which you can make a case for several. We landed on #7 Watch My Dust (7-2), who bested similar two back, likes an off track, and last out ran credibly to be second at nearly 12-1 at Parx. Maybe the most interesting of the group, though, is #3 Persie (9-2); the Penn-based runner, trained by Lester Stickler, won 10 times in 2018, including six straight, mostly in starter company. That streak was snapped when he ran up the track while overmatched in the Swatara Stakes, and he followed that by gacking up a three-length lead late in a starter allowance and settling for second at 7-10… The obvious question on #3 Polarization (6-1) is whether she can get the six-furlong distance of race five; she’s 0-for-3 and last out gave up a big lead late to be second. A good sign here, though, is that trainer Hugh McMahon will leg up go-to rider Katie Davis; that duo has won at a 25 percent clip the last year-and-change… The 1-1A entry of Social Stranger and Shoe Loves Shoe gets the nod as the 8-5 morning line favorite in the sixth, and certainly either could win in this spot. But it’s worth noting that, combined, they are 0-for-8 on off tracks. A runner here who does like the wet stuff is #5 Brimstone (5-1); the Claudio Gonzalez trainee is 4-for-12 on off tracks and has the benefit here of dropping into much easier company than he saw last out… 


  • RACE 4
    • 7-3-2-1
    • Scr: 8
  • RACE 5
    • 3-11-10-2
    • Scr: 1A, 4, 5, 6
  • RACE 6
    • 5-7-1A-6
    • Scr: 3


#2 Zoo Yorker (3-1) ran well enough last out, rallying to within two lengths of the winner in his first start in seven weeks. Here in race seven, he finds a bit of an easier spot and can take a step forward. Trainer Jeremiah Englehart will leg up Jorge Vargas, Jr., and that duo is winning at a 39 percent clip the last year, and this runner owns three wins on off tracks… In the finale, we’re looking for #9 Final Fear (6-1) to get the job done. The late-running sort rallied for second last out and has been in the top three five straight. This will be her first try at seven furlongs, a distance that might hit her right between the eyes. The favorite after scratches is #1 Drops and Buckets (7-2), and she’s certainly capable of handling this group. But we’re not 100 percent sold on that gaudy 61 Beyer last out, and she’s making a fairly abrupt drop here in her second start after a nine-month break. The verdict: don’t ignore, but look to try to beat her on top…


  • RACE 7 
    • 2-7-4-6
    • Scr: 1
  • RACE 8
    • 9-1-5-8
    • Scr: 4, 6