Laurel Park: Picks and ponderings Feb. 16, 2019
by Frank Vespe
In which we pick the races from Laurel Park each day…
Post time: 12:30 p.m.
Carryovers: Rainbow 6 — $1,766; Super Hi 5 — $3.838
Stat of the day: Eight of the 14 scheduled runners in the General George — including the favorite, second favorite, co-third choice, and fifth choice — are based at Laurel Park.
Madame Tiger won easily two back, and then she retured to best Charles Town allowance foes. The horse she beat two back, #7 Very Charming (3-1), returns to action here today and figures to have a good shot in this never-won-three sprint. The 1-1A entry of Dialin and Marie From Parie is favored at 7-5 and offers both two for the price of one and a one-two punch; the latter should be forwardly placed early, while the former will do her running in the latter stages. Give a look, too, to #4 Malabar (8-1); the Jose Corrales trainee galloped last out against better — the exact move he used on Friday to secure a win.
Trainer Gary Capuano doesn’t win with too many firsters but is known instead for having them sharp in their second career starts — so when he scores with a first-time starter… Such is the case with #1 Starting Tour (4-1) in this contest. She’s rising off that first-out win and facing winners for the first time — but that was an impressive effort to get the money after breaking sharply before ceding the lead.
Sure, #3 Street Review (7-5) lost by 10 lengths at this level last time. But the winner that day, Totalitario, is a bit of a different bird than what he’ll see in here; that runner returned to beat starter/optional claimers in his next try. This Justin Nixon trainee drops to the bottom off a race that might be better than it looked.
- RACE 1
- SCR: 1A, 2, 4
- RACE 2
- SCR: 3
- RACE 3
A somewhat raggedy — but large — group of maidens will face the starter in this maiden claiming event, and while you’ll probably need to include #1 Jackgreerstubhutch (7-5) and #10 Seventyseven Force (5-2) on your tickets, you might want to include a couple of longshots… ya know, just in case. #5 Son of Tyranny (30-1) and #3 Saturday Fighter (15-1) kinda fit the bill for us. The former at least showed speed last out and should appreciate the cutback in distance; the latter hasn’t shown much, but he’s only raced twice, which has to count for something.
RACE 5 — $100,000 MIRACLE WOOD STAKES
A couple of these appear to be real runners, with three of them early nominees to the Triple Crown. #2 Alwaysmining (7-5) is the most accomplished runner here,having already won four races, among them a pair of stakes, and has a win at the one-mile trip. Also, notably, rider Daniel Centeno is scheduled to return from TAM to ride this guy (assuming Centeno is OK after his spill the other day). He can be tough in here, but he may not have things his own way; #6 Gray Magician (9-2) has shown ample speed, too, even if his sticktoitiveness is in question. He was cooked in the speed duel last out in a Santa Anita allowance one race after having run evenly in the Grade 3 Sham. If the pace heats up here, two runners who can benefit from that are #3 Wendell Fong (8-1) and #5 Tybalt (5-1). The former won at first asking for trainer Jeremiah Englehart, and one of his beaten rivals graduated next out. A son of Flat Out, he should appreciate the added ground here. The latter rallied smartly last out to win a seven-furlong allowance and here makes his second start after a three-month break.
RACE 6 — $100,000 WIDE COUNTRY STAKES
One of these eight sophomore fillies will get her first stakes win in this seven-furlong test. The favorite in here is #3 Our Super Freak (2-1), who owns a pair of stakes placings and is one of just four in here to have won twice. She ran second two back behind the very talented Congrats Gal in the Smart Halo — that runner’s only defeats came when third in the G3 Schuylerville and second, behind Eclipse champion two-year-old filly Jaywalk, in the White Clay Creek at DEL. And last out, she finished third and the runner-up, Ujjayi, returned to win the $100,000 Ruthless Stakes at AQU. She’s certainly live in this spot, but those odds nevertheless feel a little bit short. We’re going to take a swing in here with #2 Las Setas (10-1). The Katy Voss-trained Maryland-bred graduated last out in her first try with blinkers and figures to be the main speed in here. She offers value, though she’ll clearly need to step forward in this spot.
- RACE 4
- RACE 5
- RACE 6
RACE 7 — $100,000 JOHN B. CAMPBELL STAKES
Man, what a great race this turned out to be, topped by the Grade 1 winner #6 Discreet Lover (3-1), who is the tepid morning line favorite. That runner won the G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup two races back and followed that up with a more-than-credible mid-pack finish in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic. But that November 3 tilt was his last outing, and he’s showing just a single work — at four furlongs last Friday — in the interim. He’s the class of this group, but you have to suspect he may not be all the way cranked up in here — and he’ll need to be to win this contest. We’ll take a swing against with the Penn National invader #2 Johnny Jump Up (8-1). He ran a huge one last out to win the Swatara there at 23-1 odds, and while he benefited from the bias that night, he ran big in a race that had some other early types and hung on to best one of today’s main contenders, #9 Monongahela (4-1). Unlike that race, this one appears light on early zip; Johnny Jump Up figures to be doing it easily in the early going.
RACE 8 — GRADE 3 GENERAL GEORGE
A full field of 14 is slated to face the starter in this one, with locally-based #6 Still Having Fun (9-2) the lukest of lukewarm favorites. That runner is certainly capable in this spot — he’s a Grade 2 winner who’s also Grade 1-placed — but it won’t be easy. His late-running style is most effective when chasing a fast pace, and it’s unclear he’ll get all the pace he wants in this event. He’ll also have to contend, for the first time, with older runners, among them the defending champ and multiple graded winner #13 Something Awesome (5-1). This Jose Corrales trainee kicked off a three-race win streak in this event a year ago. After a six-month break, he made a useful return to action when running second — behind #4 Colonel Sharp (12-1) — in an allowance at Laurel Park. But his follow-up was less auspicious; he was well-beaten when 10th in the $9 million Pegasus World Cup. That may have been too heavy a lift for a runner with just a single start in half a year, but he should be fit and raring to go for this contest. And don’t forget about the hard-hitting local, #7 Laki (6-1), who owns seven wins over the strip and was second three back in the G3 De Francis Dash.
RACE 9 — GRADE 3 BARBARA FRITCHIE
Three runners riding multi-race win streaks look likely to have the jump on their rivals in this seven-furlong race. #1 Spiced Perfection (3-1) has won her last two and three of four, and last out she annexed the Grade 1 La Brea at Santa Anita, powering to victory a length-and-change. Recent regular pilot Flavien Prat also makes the journey East. She’ll have to contend with the Charles Town-based #2 Late Night Pow Wow (7-2), who seems to keep getting better and better. The Fiber Sonde filly’s biggest win came in the Grade 3 Charles Town Classic, and she has since extended her win streak to eight, most recently with a pair of facile wins in Laurel Park stakes. She’ll have regular pilot Fredy Peltroche up. And #4 Dawn the Destroyer (4-1) has won two straight since returning to the main track. Most recently, the Kiaran McLaughlin trainee won the $100,000 Interborough Stakes at Aqueduct, and she’ll retain jockey Junior Alvarado.
Allowance fillies and mares complete the card, and while #4 Velocita Brillante (9-5) is the favorite and most likely winner, the place to look for value might be #6 Mary’s Jewel (7-2). The Miguel Vera trainee broke her maiden last out in her second career start in a race that’s produced a next-out winner. This will be her second start with Lasix, and regular pilot Carol Cedeno retains the mount.
- RACE 7
- SCR: 5, 6, 8
- RACE 8
- RACE 9
- SCR: 9
- RACE 10
- SCR: 10