Laurel Park: Picks and ponderings Jan. 27, 2019
by Frank Vespe
In which we pick the races from Laurel Park each day…
Post time: 12:30 p.m.
Carryovers: Rainbow 6 — $491
Stat of the day: The three top trainer/jockey combos, by wins at the current meet, are Jamie Ness/Trevor McCarthy, Claudio Gonzalez/Victor Carrasco, and Jeremiah Englehart/Jorge Vargas, Jr. All three combos have registered five wins thus far, with Vargas and Englehart averaging $7.40 payout per win, the top figure of the threesome.
Nickel claiming horses kick off the Sunday card, and #5 Top Prospect (8-5) is a deserving favorite off a just-miss effort at this level, and he’s won three times at this one-mile distance. But he’s also seemingly not at his best these days; two back he won for fun at the $8,000 level but last out found himself down here for a nickel, where he remains. If not him, who? Top local jock Trevor McCarthy rode #1 Super Vision (6-1) to victory last out but leaves that mount here to ride #6 Pegasus Red (5-1) for trainer Jamie Ness. This runner looks likely to be the controlling speed in this spot, has won at this distance, and a return to his three-back from would be good enough to get it done here.
On New Year’s Eve, #7 Turing Machine (2-1) finished third, beaten less than a length, in allowance company. She’s the only runner to have run back from that race — her follow-up was a mess — and she shows up here in for the tag. We’ll look elsewhere, though, towards #4 Oxhilirating (5-2). The Michael Gorham trainee gets Lasix added for the first time here, broke her maiden at seven furlongs — just shy of this one-mile distance — and figures to control the pace with Victor Carrasco up.
Back in November, #3 Mesotherm (1-1) was 5-2 in the $200,000 Fabulous Strike at Penn National. But he couldn’t make the lead that day and then couldn’t keep the pace, eventually being eased. He shows up here for the first time since in this three-other-than allowance, and he should be able to make the lead if he wants it — and then to get back to his winning ways.
- RACE 1
- RACE 2
- SCR: 1, 3
- RACE 3
- SCR: 4
Maiden claimers go postward in the fourth, and veteran trainer Charlie Frock will send out a pair, including favoried #4 Weekend Flyer (5-2) and #8 One Odd Story (5-1), who scratched out of a different race yesterday. Another to keep an eye on is #2 In Class (3-1), the Rodney Jenkins-trained firster by Bandbox; she’s been working well enough, including a couple of bullet moves, and Jenkins wins on occasion with debut runners (2-for-16 with debut maiden claimers).
Yes, these are bottom-level horses, but this is a pretty good group of ’em set to go a mile. The 9-5 favorite is #7 Tiger Eyes (9-5), who crushed never-won-four nickel horses last out and easily could repeat here. But we’ll try to beat her with #2 Stellar Trick (5-1). The Hat Trick filly makes her second start since Claudio Gonzalez claimed her. Off the claim, he raised her to the $8,000 level, where she ran decently to be fourth — though beaten just two lengths — and now she finds her way back to this lower level where she can take a step forward.
Today’s mystery: why is #5 Belmont Ride (7-5) in the sixth, a $16,000 maiden claimer? He rallied to the lead last out against better before settling for second. Trainer Milan Milosevic claimed him from that start, waited over a month, and now brings him back at a lower level. Hmm… that makes us want to look around, and we’re looking for a longshot play here: #1 Lucky Bull (12-1). The Ham Smith trainee cuts back to a sprint distance after six consecutive one-mile races. He hasn’t shown much at any distance, but a look back at his career debut is interesting: he finished fourth of six in a maiden special weight event at Delaware, but the horses that finished one-two that day were Call Paul and Mind Control; both have gone on to be graded stakes winners. He won’t see any of those in here.
- RACE 4
- SCR: 6
- RACE 5
- SCR: 4
- RACE 6
The speedy #1 Bells Irish Fancy (2-1) gets the nod as fave in race seven, a first-level allowance, but, I dunno… not feeling it. She figures to get pressed up front and that may make it hard for her to stay on to the end. If the pace does heat up, a horse who looks likely to be running on late is #6 Hot Friesia (9-2). The closer has a couple of wins at this six-furlong trip and didn’t run badly last out; notably, the winner of that test, Lady by Choice, has won two allowance races and missed winning a three-other-than by an eyelash, making her a tougher customer than any of these.
The card closes with a challenging $50,000 maiden claimer, and the favorite in here is #3 Bullets Child (7-5). The Damon Dilodovico trainee ran well on debut, leading for a long way before settling for the runner-up spot, and the winner came back to run second versus starter/optional claimers. He very well could graduate here, but in a race full of horses dropping down from maiden special weight company, we’re not inclined to take what are likely to be very short odds on a horse moving up off a defeat. Instead, we’re going to give the Chuck Lawrence trainee #5 Cyclobomb (6-1) the nod here; he didn’t run a bad race last out when fading to fourth against maiden allowance foes at Penn National, and that was his first in six months. He has a chance to improve off that, and his two earlier tries at Laurel were both pretty good, and against some tough customers. Also notable: rider Jorge Vargas, Jr. made the trek to Grantville last out and has the return engagement here.
- RACE 7
- RACE 8