Laurel Park: Picks and ponderings Feb. 8, 2019
by Frank Vespe
In which we pick the races from Laurel Park each day…
Post time: 12:30 p.m.
Stat of the day: Jockey Angel Suarez won three times on Thursday. That gives him 10 wins during the meet, good for fifth in the jockey standings, and his winners have returned, on average, a generous $10.26. Meet leader Trevor McCarthy has 24 wins. Suarez is named on three mounts today at Laurel.
It’s hard to imagine any of the horses in the lid-lifter winning a race, other than whoever wins here; the morning line favorite, #5 Animal Lady (1-1) is 0-for-13 and was beaten 16 lengths at this level last out, while the 9-5 second choice, #1 Donna’s Delight, is 0-for-19 and just was beaten 13 at this level. They’re the best of what’s on offer here, but this feels like a race where taking ridiculously short odds is a fool’s errand; what about a look at #2 We Hap Now (8-1). She’s no world-beater, either — 0-for-18 — but here she makes her third start off a bit of a freshening and drops, for the first time, all the way to the bottom. She at least offers a hint of value.
A solid group of $8,000 claimers is in the offing in R2, and while #2 The Great Provider (8-5) is a deserving favorite, the outcome of his last race — he won but was vanned off — makes the expected short odds a bit of a concern. Trainer Jamie Ness wheels him right back in two weeks, which is certainly a good sign, and puts leading jock Trevor McCarthy up. You don’t want to ignore him by any means, but… we’re going to land on #6 Double the Cheers (6-1). Trainer Robbie Bailes claimed this runner for $5,000 two back, tried him in $12,500 company on a double-raise in which he performed pretty well to be fourth, and now drops him halfway between. He’ll also put up journeyman jock Horacio Karamanos.
Race three is another bottom-level maiden, though it’s a much better group than the other division. We’re going to give the nod in here to #5 Complicated Lady (5-1). In the first four starts of her career, she showed a bit of early speed before backing up. Last out — granted, in $5,000 company at CT — she appeared to be en route to the same pattern before, in the final furlong, closing a couple of lengths. We’re partial to horses that show a new dimension and like to see trainer Anthony Farrior putting up yesterday’s star Angel Suarez. Farrior’s also bringing this one back just six days following her last, a move that’s generated two wins from 13 tries for the conditioner.
- RACE 1
- RACE 2
- SCR: 3
- RACE 3
Have some tasty chalk! #1 Swing Step (7-5) has run two good ones since trainer Katy Voss added blinkers, and in a race light on speed, he might have it his own way in here. Notably, Watch Your Words, whom he finished just behind last out, returned yesteray to run third against never-won-four company yesterday.
#1 Queens Or Better (9-5) has run second in each of her last two, which certainly makes her the deserving fave in here. But she’s likely to have #5 Allison K (7-2) pressing her from the jump, and we like that Hugh McMahon trainee, who is dropping from $25,000 company to the bottom here, to go on late for the win. If the pace heats up, though, looks for #3 Coqueta (7-2) to be the horse to get first run on the leaders.
Just about every horse in the sixth race — exaggerating, but only slightly — seems to have faced and lost to Final Fear. All but #3 Jazzy Juder (4-1), who crushed that runner two races back. In that never-two contest, Jazzy Juder won by three lengths with an enticing short comment: “Cruised up 5wd, handily.” Trainer Mike Gorham tried her last out against better, and that didn’t go so well, but here he drops her back to the level where she fits, and a return to earlier form would get it done today.
- RACE 4
- RACE 5
- SCR: 4
- RACE 6
The Charles Town shipper #2 Calaveras (8-5) looks to be tough in this maiden claiming event. Last out, the Chris Keller trainee won the speed duel but lost the war, as late runners came and took the top two spots. But it was still a solid effort, validated as two of four to run back returned to graduate next out and a third ran second in her follow-up. We’re also including #6 Chicken Dinner (9-2) on our ticket; trainer Tom Iannotti is 1-for-10 with debut maiden claimers, but note a sharp half-mile work lurking back there in September.
Yet another fave in the eighth, a starter/optional claimer, as we’ll side with #5 Crush It (9-5). The Mary Eppler trainee has won two of three and was second against similar last out. WIth decent early zip from an advantageous post, he’s likely to get a good trip here under Jorge Ruiz in a race in which most of the other runners have easily identifiable holes.
Leading trainer Claudio Gonzalez sends out #3 Given Achance (4-1) in the finale. It’s taken a while, but it all seemed to come together for this miss last out, as she cruised to a three-length victory. She’s two-for-two going seven furlongs, as she’ll do here, and she’s a major threat to make it three-for-three.
- RACE 7
- SCR: 3, 4
- RACE 8
- RACE 9
- SCR: 2, 7, 10