Laurel Park picks and ponderings Mar. 3, 2019
by Frank Vespe
In which we pick the races from Laurel Park each day…
Post time: 12:30 p.m.
Carryovers: Rainbow 6 — $7,251; Super Hi 5 — $1,034; Late Pick 5 — $10,242
Stat of the day: Number of races in which the morning line favorite is more than 2-1: 5 (of eight).
It’s nickel claiming horses in the opener going 1 1/16 miles, and the favorite is the very definition of a bad favorite: #2 Disco Express (5-2) has lost at this level eight consecutive times, many of them not close. He could surely win this race, but why take short odds on that proposition? We landed instead on the lightly raced #7 Super Fleet (3-1). The Richard Vega trainee stretched out to two turns for the first time last out in his sixth career start with middling results an can improve here in a good spot. Notably, Vega had this runner cross-entered at Penn National, where he was also 3-1 on the morning line, and decided to pick this spot. Carol Cedeno will ride.
Talk about a wide-open race: eight of the nine runners have morning lines between 4-1 and 8-1. Our pick in here is #4 Arkadag (5-1). The Donald Barr trainee threw in a clunker last out against much better, but two back he ran a terrific race at this level, finishing second behind Totalitario, who returned to beat higher level starter/optional runners in his follow-up. Though well beaten by Totalitario, Arkadag was well clear of the rest, and a repeat of that would make him a handful in this spot.
Last out #7 Animal Lady (3-1) was a good second against $10,000 maidens, missing by just a neck after a long battle. The winner of that event, Donna’s Delight, returned to defeat winners in her follow-up. This one hung a bit in that race, so perhaps the cutback to seven furlongs will work for her. This is a fairly tepid endorsement, though; these are bad maidens, and it wouldn’t be a huge shock for any of them to clunk along for the win (hence, we’re including #3 Stand Over Me (30-1) in our mix).
- RACE 1
- SCR: 1
- RACE 2
- RACE 3
- SCR: 4
The fourth is an intriguing maiden special weight test, with five of the six in after scratches lined between 3-1 and 9-2. Our choice in here is #5 Miss Guided (7-2), who ran a bang-up race on debut but had to settle for third. She’s a daughter of top sire Speightstown and out of the multiple graded winner Miss Behaviour and is trained by Phil Schoenthal. In her debut, she broke alertly, took pressure throughout, and stuck with it until the very late stages when she tired to third, beaten just a length for all the money. The cutback here to 5 1/2 furlongs may not be a bad, thing, she’s showing a work in the interim, and anticipated second-race improvement probably would be enough in this spot.
The favorite in this first-level allowance is #2 Tattooed (2-1), who just missed last out at this level and cuts slightly back to a one-mile distance at which he owns three wins. Trevor McCarthy will ride, and this Tim Keefe-trained son of Etched should be tough in here. Still, we’re thinking that #4 Threes Over Deuces (5-2) may be sitting on a winning effort; the Gary Capuano trainee was just a length behind Tattooed in that last race in what was his second start after a six-month layoff. He’s making his third start off the layoff here and showing a bullet half-mile move — fastest of 60 — in the interim.
This Maryland-bred allowance offers some intrigue, particularly in trying to figure out how it will develop: you know that #1 Sudden Hope (8-1) and #7 Intrepid Forest (15-1) will go looking for the lead, but what out #4 No More Excuses (7-2)? The seven-year-old has run good races on and off the lead, and if jockey Trevor McCarthy can get her to settle behind the speed types here, she rates a big shot. If not? She may get cooked, as Sudden Hope in particular can lay down some fast early fractions. And where will the Claudio Gonzalez trainee #10 Hashtag Selfie (5-1) wind up early on the cutback from route distances after a two-month break? Outfooted at the short sprint or on the engine? A runner who does figure to tuck in behind the speed and try to run past them late is #9 Grace Isabella (3-1), who last out was fourth at this level — about a length behind third-place finisher No More Excuses — but may benefit from the way the race plays out here and her outside draw.
- RACE 4
- SCR: 1
- RACE 5
- RACE 6
- SCR: 5
I dunno — I wanted to beat #2 Stormin Hongkong (7-5) in here. Those odds feel short, and I’m uncertain about whether the added ground here works to his advantage. But everybody else in here has flaws of their own, and so that’s where we ended up.
Two runners in this $16,000 claimer have a demonstrated love for the 5 1/2 furlong trip: #5 Bustin Hearts (5-2) and #7 Enterprise Value (5-1). The former has competed at this level and drops after a middling try against better and is our top choice in here. Another worth a gander is the Jamie Ness-trained #4 Beautiful Maiden (6-1). This will be her first start since Ness claimed her, and though he’s waited long enough to be out of jail — and thus free to race her at any level — he comes back at a slightly higher level than the $12,500 at which he claimed her despite a fifth-place finish in that last.
- RACE 7
- RACE 8