Laurel Park: Picks and ponderings Feb. 9, 2019
by Frank Vespe
In which we pick the races from Laurel Park each day…
Post time: 12:30 p.m.
Carryovers: Rainbow 6 — $969
Stat of the day: Trainer Claudio Gonzalez has a 6-for-13 record first off the claim with horses running in maiden claiming company after finishing in the money last out. Those circumstances apply to Cool Alley today, running in the nightcap.
Today’s card kicks off with $16,000 maiden claimers and a favorite — #6 Lucky Dilly (5-2) — who feels vulnerable. For one thing, she’s lost at this level multiple times; for another, last out, she fell over a fallen rival, and you never quite know, until you watch them race, how that might affect a horse in future. She could certainly win here, but we’ll try to beat her with the lightly raced #1 Thirsty Again (3-1), who offers slightly better odds and, with breeding of Stay Thirsty out of an Awesome Again mare, figures to appreciate the added quarter-mile she’ll get in this one-mile event.
The speedy #5 Elbow Room (9-5) gets the nod as the favorite in this nickel claiming event as he drops from allowance company at Finger Lakes; trainer Jeremiah Englehart is 3-for-5 going from allowance company to claiming at Laurel. But a couple of things have to give you pause; he stopped badly last out going two turns despite getting away with sluggish early fractions, and while this seven-furlong test is a cutback from his last, it’s still farther than the short sprints at which he’s done his best recent work. Then, too, there’s other speed signed on here, including #1 Cause He’s Western (5-1) and a couple of others. All of that might set this one up nicely for the late-running Damon Dilodovico trainee #6 Drive At Nite (5-2). The seven-year-old arrives here with back-to-back wins against beaten claiming rivals, has been in the money in four of seven at the trip, and retains the services of jockey Horacio Karamanos (23 percent strike rate with the trainer).
I’ll be honest: I didn’t want to land on #4 Southern Rules (9-5). I tried to like others in here. But I landed on him anyway; his figures and form stack up, and in a race absolutely devoid of early speed, he figures either to control it up front or to be sitting in the top tier off comfortable fractions.
- RACE 1
- RACE 2
- RACE 3
Speaking of speed, that’s what #4 Slewzer (3-1) possesses, and she figures to be winging it up front here. The Carlos Mancilla trainee ran a good one last out against better and gets a slight cutback here to 5 1/2 furlongs — a distance at which she sports a record of 4:2-1-1. She’s also been in the money in seven of eight starts on the main track.
A solid maiden special weight group will go postward in the fifth, and our choice is #3 Baptize the Boy (5-2). The Ben Feliciano, Jr. trainee ran a big one on debut, winning a speed duel before Makes Mo Cents, enjoying a dream run inside, slipped through to win while this guy held second. The only horse to run back from that effort was the fifth-place finisher, who returned to be second in similar company. Horacio Karamanos will ride, and a repeat of that last would likely make him a winner. Also worth a gander in here: #6 Fast Master (7-2), a first-timer for Graham Motion who was a pricey auction purchase after working fast at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic two-year-old sale last May. Note that Motion brought him from his Fair Hill base down to Laurel for a recent work. Also: #1 Brightworthy (10-1), who was fourth at Tampa Bay Downs on debut; the winner that day was a well-meant Godolphin horse who returned to be third in the Pasco Stakes.
For the first time since his last win, five starts ago, #1 Earned It (10-1), our longshot play du jour, finds himself in company where he fits; his odds in his last four starts have ranged from 21-1 to 50-1. Here, making his third start off a layoff and cutting back from two turns to seven furlongs, he has the right to take a step forward, which would put him right there in this group. The good news: he won’t see any horses like Persie, who scored in his last try, or Blow the Whistle, who bested him three back. Those two runners won 10 times each last season.
- RACE 4
- SCR: 5
- RACE 5
- RACE 6
#1 Expect Drama (2-1) has turned in back-to-back solid efforts, running second in both, which earns him the nod as favorite in this maiden claiming event. You won’t want to ignore him, but we’re going to take a swing at beating him in the top spot with #3 America’s Prince (7-2). This Honorable Dillon gelding has a try or two on his resume that would win here. He’s making his first start after being claimed by Dale Capuano, who year after year continues to win at a high level. Capuano adds blinkers and, for the first time, Lasix. The drop from $16,000 to $10,000 is a negative, but we’re not sweating it too much; his last was a mess, and that probably gives Capuano a free square to drop this guy in class without losing him.
Chalk time! #5 Oxhilirating (1-1) didn’t make it to the races until late in her sophomore season, but the now four-year-old has been making up for lost time, with wins in two of her last three starts. She’s two-for-two beyond six furlongs — this race is 1 1/16 miles — and her one-mile try last out was her best yet, as she won by seven while posting a giant 81 Beyer speed fig. She looks to be the controlling speed in this spot, too, and likely will be tough to reel in.
See our stat of the day above for the logic behind #8 Cool Alley (4-1). Just wish those odds were a little more enticing…
- RACE 7
- RACE 8
- RACE 9