Laurel Park picks and ponderings Mar. 1, 2019
by Frank Vespe
In which we pick the races from Laurel Park each day…
Post time: 12:30 p.m.
Carryovers: Rainbow 6 — $4,282
Stat of the day: Trainer Anthony Farrior is 15-for-67 (22 percent) second off the claim in the last five years, and just more than half of his second-off-the-claim runners have finished in the money.
A couple of scratches slice the opener down to a five-horse field, but it still looks to a group with plenty of early runners in it, which means we’ll be looking for a horse with some late kick to get the money: perhaps #6 Miners Quest (5-1). The veteran of 57 races doesn’t win all that often but usually runs OK. Last out, at this level, he circled the field but couldn’t make a huge impact while still running a credible race. Here in his second start following a five-month break, and with some speed types to spice up the pace, he’ll have a chance to come running late with Victor Carrasco up.
A motley field of maiden claimers will line up in the second, and we’re going to eat the chalk here with #4 Victory No Joke (8-5). The Wayne Potts trainee closed smartly last out to be second in just her second career start and figures to rate a big chance to graduate in here. The best chance for the upset might belong to #1 Kateandlillian (9-2), who figures to be the main speed in here and makes her second start for trainer Anthony Farrior (22 percent second off the claim).
Another bottom-level maiden, this one for the boys, and here we’re going to try to beat the chalk, the Ham Smith trainee #3 Southern Rules (6-5). He finds his way to the bottom here in his seventh career start, and a couple of his prior tries might be good enough to win, but it’s hard to get excited about short odds on him. We’ll take a swing instead with #2 Arrgh (6-1); the Jerry O’Dwyer trainee showed a little bit of funky action early in his debut before running on and closing a bit of ground late. Interestingly enough, O’Dwyer sees fit to wheel this one right back within a week of his first start, suggesting that one may not have taken much out of him. Improvement here would put him right in the mix.
- RACE 1
- SCR: 1A, 2, 5
- RACE 2
- RACE 3
Since being claimed four back by Claudio Gonzalez, #6 Johnny Banks (9-5) has posted a ledger of 4:2-0-1 and looks to have a good shot to make it three wins in five starts in this starter/optional claimer. He has the tacticaal speed to work out a good trip in a race where the pace figures to be manageable, and Gonzalez and rider Julian Pimentel are winning at a 30 percent clip. We’re also curious to see how #2 Nick Papagiorgio (10-1) fares in this spot; the Tim Keefe trainee has won two of five in his brief career and will have Trevor McCarthy up. His speed figs say he’s not good enough, and he’s a sophomore tackling his elders. But it’s also true that three-year-olds sometimes show rapid improvement, and this appears not to be the most daunting group for the level.
Where’s the speed coming from in this six-furlong claiming event? There’s not much of it signed on, and we’re thinking it might just be from the outside in the form of #7 Mettemarlamelva (5-1). The Juan Vazquez trainee has a tongue twister of a name and in her most recent victory — albeit back on September 2 — she was on the engine from the jump and drew away to win by a couple. Solid rider Carol Cedeno is in the irons.
This tough maiden special weight test includes not one but two fillies by top sire Medaglia d’Oro — both of whom we’ll try to beat. #3 Ortinola (5-1) closed nicely in her debut, erasing most of a big deficit in the final furlong. The winner of that contest, Las Setas, followed up by posting a front-running score in the Wide Country Stakes at Laurel. We don’t expect the added ground to be an issue here, and there’s reason to think she’ll be closer to the pace than she was last out. Still, it won’t be easy; #4 Remarkable Soul (8-5) was a good second on debut for trainer Graham Motion, and New York-based conditioner Kiaran McLaughlin is slated to ship down #5 Romantic Pursuit (2-1), who was third on debut at Aqueduct.
- RACE 4
- RACE 5
- SCR: 6
- RACE 6
- SCR: 1
You can make a case for — or against — most of the runners in this maiden claimer, all of whom ran better speed figs two races ago than they did in their last. We landed on #7 Bash (5-2), who finds her way to the $16,000 level here, the lowest she’s been, and has been second twice in three tries going six furlongs.
#1 Spring Run (4-1) just missed against Maryland-bred allowance foes two races back, and while her last left something to be desired, there’s no reason she can’t get back to her better form, which would make her tough in here at an appealing price. The early speed here looks likely to come from #4 Eighty Six Mets (7-2) and #5 Liz’s Smile (8-1), which might allow Spring Run to tuck in behind those and get a good stalking trip under hot-riding Jorge Ruiz.
got pretty well throttled last out in his first try in trainer Jonathan Maldonado’s barn, but #6 Promote (5-2) looks to have been tackling a plus race; two of the top three to run back have won, and the other ran second in his follow-up. This one can make amends here with Jorge Vargas, Jr. up.
- RACE 7
- SCR: 6
- RACE 8
- SCR: 7
- RACE 9
- SCR: 4