Laurel Park: Picks and ponderings Feb. 17, 2019

by | Feb 17, 2019 | Breaking, Handicapping, Maryland, MD Racing

Something Awesome

Something Awesome ran through the snow to win the Grade 3 General George. Photo by Laurie Asseo.

by Frank Vespe

In which we pick the races from Laurel Park each day…

Post time: 12:30 p.m.

Carryovers: Rainbow 6 — $5,201; Super Hi 5 — $1,396

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.



#6 Queens Or Better (8-5) is the morning line favorite but is winless in 11 starts including four failed attempts at this $10,000 maiden claiming level.  This is the third outing for #5 Pink Pearl (5-1) who is plummeting in class from the Md 50 level.  She showed little in her first two outings but between the class drop and extra furlong she could improve.  #1 One Odd Story (5-2) is the only other horse dropping in class in the field.  She was the early speed in her last race in Md 25 company before she ran out of gas, and the cutback here may aid her cause.


Three of the six entrants are moving up in class after losing efforts in the Md 10 ranks but the other three competitors are even less enticing.  #5 Lucky Leonard (2-1) debuted in Md 10 in his last race where he finished third, beaten one length, after being steadied at the start and racing on the rail. He was claimed out of that race by his current trainer, Bruno Tessore, who has brought home some winners home at a price the first time off a claim.  #4 Higher Purpose (9-5) is the morning line favorite and is another moving up in class from Md 10 for his fifth attempt at a win; he’s making his first start for trainer Donovan Haughton, who will add blinkers.


It is understandable why #4 Turing Machine (3-5) is the odds-on favorite in this 16N2L race; her speed figs are clearly best, especially when combined with a drop in class from starter/optional claiming company.  But with only one win in 16 starts we’ll try to beat her.  #6 Brushing (7-2) broke her maiden on her ninth attempt in Md10 company. She came back in her last outing at this level to finish fourth, beaten two lengths with a career high speed figure for trainer Ham Smith where she was steadied late.  #3 Gemlover (6-1) is the most lightly raced filly in the field having broken her maiden at the Md 15 level in her fourth attempt.  This will be her first time facing winners.


  • RACE 1
    • 5-1-6-2
  • RACE 2
    • 5-4-3-6
  • RACE 3 
    • 6-4-3-2



This 5N2L event has a full field of 12 horses and sports two coupled entries.  Only one horse, #5 Shall Try (5-2), has raced less than ten times with a record of 6-1-0-1.  A Rodney Jenkins trainee, #5 Shall Try has a few other advantages as well:  she is dropping in class from the $16,000 level and has a win at the trip.  Morning line favorite #4 Louise (9-5) broke her maiden last outing in her 16th attempt in Md 10 company.  Perhaps the light bulb has gone off, but first time facing winners is often tough, and with six place finishes on her resume, she looks to have a case of seconditis.


The only other odds-on morning line favorite today, #2 Padrino’s Heart (3-5) is one of two entrants for trainer Gary Capuano.  Winless in three sprint starts, his connections are hoping that stretching out to a route will be the answer, and his speed figure in his last outing justifies making him the favorite in this field.  Capuano’s other horse, #3 Giant Viking (8-1) is a bit intriguing and is making his second attempt while also stretching out to a route.  Capuano has an impressive 35% maiden claiming record with a positive ROI of $2.94 that applies to both horses.  Capuano’s record with second-start maidens, applicable to #3 Giant Viking, stands at 38% out of an eight race sample.  While Capuano’s preferred rider Wes Hamiltom has the mount for #2 Padrino’s Heart, Capuano and jockey Jevian Toledo on #3 Giant Viking combine to win 24% of the time with an ROI of $4.30.  #5 Canal Point (10-1) is another interesting horse making only his second start today.  He is dropping out of maiden special weight company for trainer Cal Lynch having shown late interest on a muddy track over 7 furlongs in his debut.


The 9-5 favorite in this bottom-level maiden is #2 Shezalemondropkid (9-5), but the red flags are waving on this one. She didn’t make it to the races until late in her three-year-old season; when unveiled, she ran a pair of credible races against maiden allowance foes at Kentucky Downs (for a $135,000 purse) and Keeneland. She’s no world-beater, but her efforts there suggest she could win a maiden special or higher-end maiden claimer at a place like Laurel. But instead, her owner-breeder opted to sell her at the 2019 Keeneland January mixed sale, where she fetched the princely sum of… $2,000. That’s not a lot of money for a well-bred filly who has run well enough to date. And her new connections, trainer/co-owner Anthony Farrior and co-owner Leonard Mattingly decide, rather than waiting six more weeks for turf season, to run her at the bottom here. I dunno – she could win, and I suppose you have to keep her on the ticket somewhere, but taking likely short odds on this one feels a little wrong-footed. We’ll try to beat her with #4 Bonnie Kate (15-1), who offers value and comes from a barn that’s won with three of six firsters in recent years, and #8 Katie’s Sunrise (15-1), on whom trainer Gerry Brooks adds blinkers (4-for-10 first-time blinks).


  • RACE 4
    • 5-4-9-2
  • RACE 5
    • 3-5-4-1
  • RACE 6
    • 4-8-2-3



Morning line favorite #5 Dynamax Prime (9-5) won at today’s level in his last outing in January over a good track at Laurel.  He produced a career high speed figure in that race where he was dropping from a New York state restricted allowance race at Aqueduct.  If the five-year old gelding repeats his last performance he is the likely winner.  His trainer, Jeremiah Englehart, is winning at a 44% rate in the current meet and the trainer/jockey combo of Englehart and Jorge Vargas has won at a 43% clip in 2018/2-19 with an ROI of $3.12. #3 Forty Acres (7-2) is another horse who has won at this level in the last three months.  She is dropping back to today’s claiming level after two attempts in more expensive company.  There are two hard knockers in this field, eight-year #6 Rare Eagle (9-2) with a lifetime record of 52-10-8-11 $269,657, and nine-year old #2 Dazzling Okie (4-1) with a record of 59-13-12-6 $251,322.  It would be nice to see them both be competitive today.


The last race of the day features seven horses.  #7 You Made It (3-1) is dropping in class from the 32 claiming level and while stretching out to route.  His trainer, Mike Trombetta, wins at a 12% clip when moving from sprint to route.  If a long shot is more to your liking, take a look at #5 Ash n’ Em (12-1), who broke her maiden last outing in her third attempt at the Md 10 level.  This is a pretty big class hike, but trainer Rudy Rodriguez wins at a 25% rate with horses who won their last start, and also has positive ROIs in routes and claiming races.



  • RACE 7 
    • 5-3-6-2
  • RACE 8
    • 7-5-4-2