Laurel Park picks and ponderings Feb. 24, 2019
by Frank Vespe
In which we pick the races from Laurel Park each day…
Post time: 12:30 p.m.
Carryovers: Rainbow 6 — $1,840
Stat of the day: The top longshot jockeys in the colony to date this meet have been Jorge Ruiz and Jevian Toledo. Both have won three times with horses off at 8-1 or more, while no other jock has won more than twice. Both also have positive wagering ROIs with longshots.
The top pair in the lid-lifter are #3 Boom Boom Gone (5-2) and #6 Starr Designer (2-1). The former graduated last out, has run well at this one-mile trip, and may have the advantage of the lightbulb theory. The latter ran terribly last out but gets blinkers and jockey Trevor McCarthy today and has better efforts to run back to. One question will be how the early pace develops; Boom Boom Gone doesn’t seem to need the lead — he’s run OK without it — but last out got loose and hung on. #2 Yours to Keep (8-1), a stretching-out sprinter for Jerry Robb, may complicate that trip today, however. Starr Designer, on the other hand, has done her best work closing and figures to have a lot to do with a half-mile to go; she’ll need the pace to heat up and tire out the early types. The other question is value; if the bettors put more stock in Starr Designer’s last race, her odds may drift up towards a more enticing price.
If #2 Blue Danube (9-5) is going to win a race, this might be the spot; the Awesome Again gelding ran an OK third last out with a bit of a trouble line while earning a career-best (if somewhat suspect) Beyer speed fig. He’s also dropping to the bottom level for the first time. But, gee, 9-5 seems short on this guy who has but a single third-place finish in seven career starts. We’ll try to beat him with #6 Stacksdenero (6-1), making his second career start for trainer Mike Geralis. In a race that played to speed — and in which he was practically in a different county early — he ran on smartly through the lane and closed some ground. He can step forward today.
This three-other-than allowance is an intriguing affair. The chalk in here — and most likely winner — is #3 Sheikh of Sheikhs (9-5). The Lacey Gaudet trainee was a good second last out in the Fire Plug Stakes and has had a bit over a month between races; that has seemed to be the sweet spot for him, a bit of time between starts, and he returns here with Victor Carrasco in the irons and the tactical speed to work out a good trip. Looking for a long shot? How about avowed mudlark #2 Eastern Bay (12-1). All this five-year-old gelding has done is win five of six career starts on off tracks, and last out he dominated a second-level allowance by almost five lengths.
- RACE 1
- SCR: 1
- RACE 2
- RACE 3
- SCR: 5
If we’re right, trainer Mike Geralis might have a couple of newly minted graduates by the end of today. The favorite in this bottom-level maiden is #11 Hey Mabel (2-1), and she easily could win this contest; she was second last out behind Louise, who then doubled up by taking a never-won-two claimer in her follow-up. It was her second straight runner-up effort, and her speed figs fit snugly in this group. The bad news? For one thing, she’s lost at this bottom level five times already. For another, she’s breaking from the 11-hole; only one horse, from 19 starters, has won from the nine-hole or beyond going a mile this meet, and if you add in the seven-furlong trip, that number becomes 1-for-38 from the nine-, ten-, and 11-holes. We’ll try to beat her with the Geralis-trained #5 Kitten’s Friend (6-1), who comes out of a different race, stretches out to a mile for just the second time (and first against bottom-level rivals), and gets blinkers on after a credible try last out.
The early pace in this third-level allowance should be frenetic, what with the speedy (and flighty) #1 Limited View (20-1) and #3 Bye Bye Blues (9-2) both likely to be gunning for the top spot and others in here probably lurking close by. All of that might just set this one up for the Claudio Gonzalez trainee #4 Lady by Choice (5-1), who certainly has speed but has done her best work with a pace to run at. She’s been third in two tries at the level, and this third time might be the charm.
In her debut, #6 Two Sixteen (9-2) led a long way before being nosed out on the money and finishing second; that effort came at essentially this level (the Maryland Jockey Club subsequently turned the $40,000 maiden claiming level into a $50,000 level), and in her return to that spot, the Ferris Allen trainee has a chance to earn her mortarboard. It won’t be easy, though; runners like #8 Bunting (2-1), a good fourth against better on debut, and #4 Suyapa (7-2), second last out versus similar, figure to have a say in the outcome.
- RACE 4
- RACE 5
- SCR: 2
- RACE 6
- SCR: 2, 5
Blinks go on for our top choice #2 Elverson (5-2) in this allowance/optional claimer. The Chuck Lawrence trainee broke her maiden at first asking and last out was a good second at this level; the winner, Two Dozen Roses, returned to be fifth in stakes company in her follow-up. Her main rivals in this spot look to be #7 Ying Yue (6-1), who comes out of the same race and was a close-up fourth after a troubled trip, and #4 Knock Out Kid (3-1), who has been first, second, and third in recent tries at this level.
Jockey Trevor McCarthy gets off #9 Accusing (5-2) in this spot to ride #6 Lord of Misrule (4-1). So why are we sticking with Accusing here as our top choice? That runner closed nicely to be second last out while making an inside move on a day when every winner was removed from the rail. The shortened distance may be a problem for him, but it also figures to be an issue for Lord of Misrule, himself a closer.
- RACE 7
- RACE 8