Laurel Park picks and ponderings Feb. 23, 2019
by Frank Vespe
In which we pick the races from Laurel Park each day…
Post time: 12:30 p.m.
Carryovers: Rainbow 6 — $716; Late Pick 5 — $5,075
Stat of the day: In the last five years, horses claimed from trainer Claudio Gonzalez are just 14-for-136 (10%) in their first start for new connections.
In two of his last three starts, #1 Smile Bryan (7-5) tangled with horses who repeated in their follow-ups, both Olympic Village and Red Gum returning to impress in allowance scores. Here the Graham Motion trainee will drop into the maiden claiming ranks, catch a fast track, and shorten up to 5 1/2 furlongs, which all should be enough here. Among those he’ll have to contend with are #4 Hanalei’s Houdini (5-1) from the Ham Smith barn; this runner’s recent workmate, Lucky Junior, ran second yesterday against lower level maidens.
We’ll look for the mild upset in the second in the form of #3 Charging Lion (2-1). This one ran evenly against slightly better last out, gets added ground which figures to help, and will have leading rider Trevor McCarthy in the irons for the first time. All of that gives him the nod over the favorite, #2 M G Broker (4-5), who makes his first start here after being claimed away from trainer Claudio Gonzalez; horses claimed from Gonzalez win their next starts at just a 10 percent clip.
Good try last out for the Ben Perkins trainee #7 Spotmeifucan (3-5), running second after slugging it out for the lead, winning the speed duel but falling to a perfect-trip rival. A repeat of that would likely be good enough here.
- RACE 1
- RACE 2
- RACE 3
- SCR: 2, 3
#1 Haley’s Thunder (7-2) rallied smartly for the show spot last out at this nickel never-three level, and the runner-up, Bagels and Lox, returned to win versus better ($12,500 claimers). Solid rider Carol Cedeno retains the mount on this closer, who figures to have some pace to run at. This is one of two Scott Lake trainees in here, the speedy #5 Dorcas Carey (5-2) being the other, and an all-Lake exacta is not out of the question.
A big field of runners will try to break their maidens in this $10,000 claiming event, and the morning line favorite is #10 Salutelute (7-2), who makes his first start in Mike Gorham’s barn after beginning his career with modest success in Southern California. Scratches will help this runner, as three of them will move him closer to the rail, and rider Victor Carrasco and Gorham have made a potent combo in the last year (24 percent with a positive ROI). But we’re going to give the nod to #2 Eagle Caviar (6-1). The Jonathan Maldonado trainee showed good speed before tiring to second last out at a slightly longer distance. He looks to be controlling speed again here and, in his third start off a two-month break, should have every chance to fire his best shot.
Two races back, #5 Gold Man (7-2) controlled the early pace and went on to win a $20,000 claimer easily. Last out, he found himself in third early with a contested early pace, made the lead after three quarters, but couldn’t seal the deal and settled for third. Here today, he looks to be the controlling speed once again and has a chance to reprise his two-back score. He was beaten just a length in his last; the winner, #1 The Great Casby (9-2), returns here, while the runner-up, Whirlin Curlin, bested better in his follow-up.
- RACE 4
- RACE 5
- SCR: 4, 6, 9
- RACE 6
- SCR: 1A
Another runner who looks to be controlling speed is #5 Thaddeus (6-1) in this nickel claiming sprint. Making his second start after a two-month break — and just his third since July — he may have a chance to strut his stuff here under Ricardo Chiappe. Looking for a longshot? How about #3 Abdaar (15-1). Carol Cedeno lands here for trainer Scott Lake — who regularly employs her services — rather than on #7 Wizard of Odds (7-2) for Juan Vazquez.
There are a lot of ways to go in this three-year-old allowance test, and we landed on #7 Hall Pass (5-2). The Ham Smith trainee won at this level two back and here shortens up to the six-furlong distance that should work for him. Last out he made the lead before tiring to fourth, though beaten just two lengths; winner Tybalt returned to run third in the $100,000 Miracle Wood Stakes.
You’ll be generously rewarded if #4 Glory Hound (12-1) comes in to close the card; he figures to be the horse on the lead early, and we’ll be hoping he can stay on till the end. He faded to third last out in his first start in two months, and winner Humbolt Street repeated in his follow-up.
- RACE 7
- RACE 8
- SCR: 1
- RACE 9
- SCR: 5, 7, 9