Laurel Park: Picks and ponderings Feb. 7, 2019
by Frank Vespe
In which we pick the races from Laurel Park each day…
Post time: 12:30 p.m.
Carryovers: Rainbow 6 — $5,411; Late Pick 5 — $6,028
Stat of the day: The leading jockey-trainer combo at Laurel to date this meet is Victor Carrasco-Claudio Gonzalez. The duo has seven wins to date — one more than two other combos — and have two chances to add to that record, with Madame Tiger in race seven and Hot Mic in race eight.
Bottom-level maidens kick off the Thursday card, and the favorite here is #3 Maynooth (2-1), and he’s just the kind of favorite we like to bet against. He’s failed as the chalk five times on the page, including three straight, last out at 6-5 at this level. He’s made a (bad) habit of running just well enough to hit the board without winning; if he ever is going to win, this might be the group to do it against, but we’ll try to beat him all the same. #2 Escrow Finnidilly (7-2) didn’t run a bad race last out at the bottom at PEN, especially with a bit of a trouble line. Both runners from that contest to run back won their next races, and in a race light on speed, he figures to be near the early pace and still to have enough late.
The most likely winner of the second, a maiden special weight contest at a mile, is the favorite, #2 Millwall (9-5). This Graham Motion trainee was a decent third last out in his career debut, and that race produced next-out winner Red Gum, while race winner Still Dreaming, a half-brother to Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming, is entered in Saturday’s Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes at TAM. You’ll need to include this guy on your tickets, but we’ll try to get the mild upset here with the Ham Smith-trained #1 Dixie Drawl (7-2). In his career only start to date, he ran second at the $50,000 maiden claiming level, but with an intriguing running line: he pressed the pace early between horses, fell four lengths behind the leader, then rallied to lose by just over a length. What’s more — and what doesn’t appear on the short comment — he galloped out well past everybody. Also note the seven-furlong work he posted in the interim.
We’ll eat the chalk in R3 with #1 City Gold (9-5), who drops out of much better company to this bottom level, at which he has competed in the past. And while we’re including him in our top four, we’re not too fond of the second choice on the morning line, #5 Brahms Romp (2-1), who has lost at this level seven consecutive times and seems to have a penchant for running second or third without winning.
- RACE 1
- SCR: 5
- RACE 2
- RACE 3
The late Pick 5, with a nice carryover, kicks off here. We’re inclined to give #5 Top Czar (7-2) a pass on that last race over a sloppy, sealed strip; he took a couple of bumps leaving the starting gate, was wide on the turn, and may not have liked the going in his first try over a sealed track. A return to earlier form would put him right in the mix in this contest, and the Jerry Robb trainee makes his third start here off a two-month break.
If we’re right about race 5, we — and you? — will need a wheelbarrow to get the money home. Give a gander to #4 Nobody’s Angel (30-1). To be sure, she’s no world-beater and has just two wins from 22 starts. But here’s the interesting thing: four of her last five starts have come on off tracks, the last two over sealed strips. In her lone start in her last five over a fast track, she was beaten just a neck versus better. And in her prior fast-track try, which is six races back, she was beaten just a length-and-change versus similar. She has speed and may be up front early, and we’ll see what happens after that. Katie Davis will ride. One notable stat in this race: Michelle Nevin, trainer of #8 One Cool Kitten (6-1), has won with four of nine starters at Laurel when running for a claiming tag of under $10,000.
In this $50,000 maiden claimer, the winner is likely to come from the trio of #2 Broker’s Reward (3-1), our top choice; #4 Real Factor (3-1), a $240,000 auction purchase dropping to claiming company after 15 tries versus maiden special weight rivals; and #6 Jimmy Idontknowya (8-1), also dropping from maiden special weight company. All three have raced competitively versus similar rivals.
- RACE 4
- RACE 5
- RACE 6
- SCR: 1
In a competitive second-level allowance, we’re looking for #2 Sunshine Gal (5-1) to double up. Trained by Lacey Gaudet, she rallied smartly last out, in her first try in over two months, to win an a-other-than, and the runner-up that day returned to take her first allowance condition next out. She’ll have to run down the morning line favorite who also appears to be the controlling speed; that’s #5 Madame Tiger (5-2), who won an allowance at Charles Town last out and figures to be winging it on the lead in here.
The favorite here, #3 Hot Mic (8-5), ran pretty well last out against better, stumbling at the start, rushing up to reach contention and then emptying out a bit late. Dropped into easier company here, the Claudio Gonzalez trainee figures to be tough.
- RACE 7
- SCR: 4
- RACE 8