Laurel Park picks and ponderings Mar. 10, 2019
by Frank Vespe
In which we pick the races from Laurel Park each day…
Post time: 12:30 p.m.
Carryovers: Rainbow 6 — $12,566
Stat of the day: Through Friday’s racing, only two of the top 10 riders by wins have averaged a double-digit win payoff: Jevian Toledo (21 wins, $12.04 average payoff) and Jorge Ruiz (13 wins, $15.32 average payoff).
None of the seven in the opener has demonstrated any apparent talent or interest in winning races, which means… I dunno what it means. The favorite (and our oh-so-reluctant top choice) is #1 Hey Mabel (8-5), a five-year-old mare with 18 losses on her resume. She’s the exact sort of favorite you have to play against if you want to make money in this game, but with whom? The rest of the field has plenty of flaws of its own, and it’s a race begging for a preposterous longshot to win. Could it be #5 Iam a Dancer (20-1) in her third start off a brief break? Or the lightly raced #2 Bodhicitta (30-1)? Or…
Short field of six in the second, a $25,000 maiden claimer, and #3 In Class (4-5) figures tough in here in her second career start and first in the barn of leading trainer Claudio Gonzalez. She was runner-up on debut, and the only question here is whether the cutback from a mile to 5 1/2 furlongs is advisable. She showed speed in that debut, setting a fast pace before tiring, but she’ll need her running shoes to be in the same place at this short sprint distance. One runner who figures to provide early company is #4 Freedom Bella (5-1), the Phil Schoenthall trainee who was on the engine early in a six-furlong sprint in her debut before backing out. She can improve here.
The clear and obvious favorite in this one-mile claiming event is #3 Swirrlie Shirlie (7-5), who thrashed similar runners two back and didn’t miss by much last out at the $25,000 level. Dropped back in for $12,500 here, she figures to be tough while likely running on the lead. But we’re going to try to beat her, hoping that perhaps #7 Born to Shop (15-1) can soften her up a little bit early and open the door for #1 Yours to Keep (4-1). The Jerry Robb trainee obliterated lesser last out in her first try beyond six furlongs, cruising to a seven-length win while drawing away. The route distance looks to be her niche, and she can sit back here and try to make a run as she did in her last under Xavier Perez.
- RACE 1
- RACE 2
- RACE 3
In her first start off the claim, #4 Dancingwithpaynter (2-1) rates solid favoritism in this one-mile, $5,000 claimer following an easy win at the never-won-two level. Trainer Michael Merryman, who dropped the claim slip on this one in that last, waited the additional time so he could bring this one back at the bottom — not the strongest endorsement — but a good sign here is the presence of leading rider Trevor McCarthy. Still, it feels like it’s worth trying to beat this one, and we’ll try to do that with #5 Eye of the Wildcat (9-2). This Don Souder trainee finds his way to the bottom for the first time, arriving off an even effort at the $12,500 level, the stretchout to a mile here is a definite positive; she’s got a record of 3:2-0-1 at the trip. One live longshot in this spot is #2 Viserion (15-1); that last was a mess, but you have to wonder if that was more of a paid work than an actual race for a mare who’s done her best work at a mile and beyond.
Chances are you’ve never seen a past performance quite like that of #3 Dark Ops (7-2): his last five Beyer speed figs, from oldest to newest, are 46-90-10-11-28. He lands at the bottom here, and we’re thinking that might wake him up a bit — enough to take care of this crew, at any rate. Trainer Jeremiah Englehart is 11-for-32 at the current Laurel meet and has enjoyed plenty of success when making aggressive moves with his charges.
Speaking of class droppers, #6 Easy River (9-2) certainly is meant to be better than the nickel company he finds himself in here. The six-year-old Not for Love gelding has kept much better company than this throughout his career. Last out, in his first start in 11 months, he didn’t have many answers for $16,000 rivals, but in this spot, he can step forward. We’re including the favorite, #8 Keuka Roller (5-2) on our ticket but not endorsing on top; two prior times in his career, he’s run on less than a month’s rest, and in both he ran worse. He wheels back here on two weeks rest off a career-best Beyer fig.
- RACE 4
- RACE 5
- SCR: 1
- RACE 6
We’ll eat the chalk in the seventh, a starter/optional claiming event at one mile. #1 Toma (6-5) has butted heads against some formful rivals in his last couple, among them Velocita Brillante, winner of three straight, and Oxhiliarting, winner of two straight and three of four. She catches what appears to be a much more manageable group in this spot.
Here’s a stat: trainer Lacey Gaudet has three wins from five starters making their second career start, in maiden claiming company, after having finished in the money last out. Such is the case with #6 Sweet Brother (3-1), who was no threat to winner Rip Rap Riley last out but still plugged along for third. Normal second-race improvement would likely get it done in this spot. We’re curious to see how #7 Midskipman (5-1) runs here; the Jerry Robb trainee makes his debut here, and the son of Midshipman is a half to four multiple winners, including the Charles Town-based 13-time winner Katman Quick.
That was some kind of big effort last out by #3 Real Factor (6-1). The speed fig doesn’t show it — he earned a 60 for his troubles — but don’t be fooled. He moved up early to engage the favorite, was then joined on the outside, dispatched the favorite, fought off the second challenger, and then held off late-running Grand Oasis to earn the win. He could not have run more gamely, and while he’ll need to step forward here, there’s no reason he can’t. The fifth-place finisher from that contest dropped back down to the $16,000 level — a double drop — and graduated next out.
- RACE 7
- RACE 8
- RACE 9
- SCR: 7