Laurel Park: Picks and ponderings Feb. 2, 2019
by Frank Vespe
In which we pick the races from Laurel Park each day…
Post time: 12:15 p.m.
Carryovers: Rainbow 6 — $2,586; Super Hi 5 — $1,429
Stat of the day: Over the last five years, trainer Jeremiah Englehart has won with 48 of 110 starters when dropping them in claiming price by at least 50 percent. That’s a 44 percent strike rate, and 70 percent of those starters (77 of 110) have finished one-two-three. In the nightcap today, he’s dropping Bobby G from $16,000 to $5,000.
The deserving favorite in the opener is the Jose Corrales trainee #2 Uno Dancer (7-5), who has been second twice at this level, most recently by just a neck. That was back in November; he’s showing a single work since then, and Corrales wins with 15 percent of runners off similar layoffs. We’ll try to beat him, though, with #4 Johnny Banks (4-1); this improving Claudio Gonzalez trainee gave an improved account of himself last out when third at this level, and it’s notable to see solid journeyman jock Julian Pimentel taking the reins here. That last also was this runner’s first with blinkers.
#6 Lawn Dart (3-1) has speed and is drawn well outside others with early lick in here. She broke her maiden easily last out at the $40,000 level and now drops in for $25,000. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see someone drop a claim on her in this race, and you have to figure that trainer Kieron Magee is expecting that — and hoping to knock down this two-life condition as a parting gift.
Talk about a bunch of horses that look like each other: this maiden special weight test features no fewer than five horses that have lost at or below this level repeatedly over the local strip, among them the 5-2 favorite #7 Atlantic Avenue (0-for-10 with five runner-up finishes). All of that pushes us in the direction of the two remaining horses in the field. #5 Thread the Needle (3-1) has had a couple of pretty good tries while tackling some tigers at Oaklawn and Keeneland, and we wouldn’t judge that last one too harshly; she was eight wide on the backstretch, five wide on the turn, and six wide in the lane and never really had a chance. A return to her better form might be good enough here. And #2 Eifs (6-1) makes her debut here for trainer Kieron Magee; Magee has just a 2-for-31 ledger with debut runners, but this miss has posted a couple of solid works in preparation for this, notably a bullet 47 4/5 half from the gate back in December.
- RACE 1
- RACE 2
- RACE 3
This Maryland-bred allowance presents another group of horses that look pretty much the same. We settled on #3 Super Buddy (3-1), who’s a half to Eclipse Award finalist Knicks Go. This runner ran second versus similar rivals last out in a race in which he showed a new dimension: the ability to close. He had some early traffic issues and found himself well off the pace before launching a grinding rally that nearly earned him the win. He can step forward here, and if he does, that should be good enough.
A solid group is gathered for the fifth, a second-level allowance, and we do like the last-out performance of #5 Speightsford (7-2). Yes, the Ben Perkins trainee got away with fairly moderate early fractions, but the way he came home, while ridden out, was impressive; he navigated the last half-mile in 47 1/5 seconds — faster than the opening half — and the last quarter in 23-and-change. He’s a runner moving in the right direction and retains the services of top jock Trevor McCarthy. Also notable: six runners here ran in the same test on December 22, the winner of which, General Downs, came back to win the Native Dancer Stakes. The top three returnees are #3 Robin Hood (6-1), who was fourth; #6 Measured (3-1), who finished second; and show horse #9 Ballivor (12-1).
A bunch of the runners in this never-won-two claiming event are unlikely to leave this condition any time soon, if ever. We’ll eat the chalk in this one with #10 Malabar (4-5) and head to the rest of the card.
- RACE 4
- SCR: 6
- RACE 5
- RACE 6
- SCR: 1, 1A
Another good second-level allowance is offered in race seven, and there are plenty of ways a bettor can go here. The oh-so-tepid morning line favorite is #3 Nyx Warrior (3-1), who keeps running OK races without getting the money. We settled on #2 Teufles and Roses (5-1); trainer Michael Moore has gotten back-to-back good races out of this miss after claiming her for $16,000. She’s been in the money in six of eight at the one-mile distance, and Moore opts for this spot, rather than a starter allowance at his home base of Parx, in which she was part of an entry that was 3-5 on the morning line. But there are certainly plenty of ways to go in here, and chances are you’ll want several of these in your multi-race wagers.
When last seen, #5 Jackgreerstubhutch (2-1) ran fourth at this maiden claiming level, but that was a notable race; winner Waterhaven was making his first start in a year, after having won but been disqualified from a maiden special weight event. He won easily, and the runner-up and show horse both came back to graduate next out. That was back in July, though. Trainer Ann Merryman is 3-for-15 in the last five years in bringing horses back off long layoffs like this, and she’ll leg up Trevor McCarthy.
Despite some trouble in his last, #2 Nick Papagiorgio (8-5) nearly won, finishing second by a nose; he gets another half-furlong to unfurl his late run here and could be tough. The expected short odds are a little bit daunting on a horse that really doesn’t possess any particular advantage in speed figs, though, so if he is getting pounded at the window, you couldn’t be blamed for looking around a bit. One who may offer improved value is #4 Shoeless (4-1), who didn’t show much last out versus allowance foes at Parx but here drops into an easier spot.
See our stat of the day, above. We’d expect the trip to Laurel and the easier company to do #4 Bobby G (7-5) a world of good.
- RACE 7
- RACE 8
- SCR: 3
- RACE 9
- RACE 10