Laurel Park picks and ponderings Mar. 22, 2019
by Frank Vespe
In which we pick the races from Laurel Park each day…
Post time: 1:10 p.m.
Carryovers: Rainbow 6 — $24,420
Stat of the day: Nine jockeys won at least two races last weekend at Laurel, topped by Victor Carrasco, who took four.
Class droppers collide in the first race, a $25,000 maiden claimer going a mile. We’re going for the mild upset to start here with #3 Bourbon Streak (5-1). The Milan Milosevic trainee rallied a little bit last out against better going six furlongs, and the Colonel John gelding might appreciate the added ground here. Plus, we find it interesting that he attracts the services of leading pilot Trevor McCarthy — just the fourth time since the beginning of last year that McCarthy has ridden for him. Of course, we wouldn’t be at all surprised to see the favorite, #3 Grand Oasis (5-2), get the money here for leading trainer Claudio Gonzalez.
Somebody had fun naming #7 Ma Meatloaf (7-2). The Jeremiah Englehart trainee didn’t show much last out going a mile — tiring out of contention late — but cutting back to a sprint distance and on a “good” track, she can make amends here, plus she’s dropping from the $30,000 level to $16,000. Englehart will leg up his go-to rider, Jorge Vargas, Jr. (41% strike rate together).
The best thing about our top choice in this spot, #8 America’s Prince (5-2), is that he is white — a color rarely seen in Thoroughbreds. Beyond that, he’s pretty much a slug, but dropped into a level at which he’s competed previously here and facing a group that could reasonably be described as modest, he rates a solid chance to graduate.
- RACE 1
- SCR: None
- RACE 2
- SCR: 1
- RACE 3
- SCR: None
There are no doubt many reasons Claudio Gonzalez is the runaway leader in the training standings at Laurel, but one of them is on display in this maiden claimer in the form of #5 Great French Kiss (9-5). The Despite the Odds filly debuted at the $25,000 level and ran a perfectly credible race, finishing third of eight while beaten three lengths. While most trainers would likely wheel back at the same level, Gonzalez here drops his charge a step to the $16,000 level, where, instead of being, say, the 5-2 second choice, she’s a clear favorite and the most likely runner here to get her diploma.
Nickel never-two claimers are on tap here, and we’ll take recent graduate #8 Top Hat Ragtop (9-2) to get the money for trainer Ricardo D’Angelo. This one graduated last out at the $10,000 level, and the runner-up returned to break his maiden next out. The added ground shouldn’t be a problem for this son of Union Rags, and his lone win came on an off track. He’ll have to contend with the favorite in here, #3 Street Review (8-5), who rallied to the lead at this level last out before tiring to second and here makes his first start for trainer Jonathan Maldonado.
A pretty evenly matched group will go postward in this $25,000 claimer, and this race seems to have plenty of early types — #1 Tale of E Dubai, #2 Tricky Lion, and #7 Joy Drive among them. That would indicate a runner who can pass horses would be the answer, and that points us to #3 Sir Orinoco (7-2). This one has four wins at this six-furlong trip and two on off tracks and might be sitting in the catbird seat off the speed in the early going. He’s run two solid races against starter handicap types and makes his third start off a six-week break — and just his fourth since August, so another good effort could be in the offing.
- RACE 4
- SCR: 7, 10
- RACE 5
- SCR: None
- RACE 6
- SCR: 5
There are a lot of ways to in this two-other than allowance, and we landed on #5 Super Dude (5-1). The Gary Contessa trainee ran decently last out against similar, rallying into the runner-up slot behind Saratoga Bob, who ran third in his follow-up. The last-place finisher from that tilt, Showalter, won his return to action. This lightly raced runner has never been worse than third in six career tries, won his only off-track race, and retains Sheldon Russell in the irons.
The aforementioned #3 Saratoga Bob (4-1) shows up in this very next race, a third-level allowance going six furlongs. Though he’s run pretty well at this distance (4:1-3-0), it nevertheless feels like, at this stage of his career and at this level of competition, he wants a little more ground to show his best. We’re going to land instead on #5 Cozy Lover (4-1), making his first start after being claimed by trainer Claudio Gonzalez. This one is rising off a defeat at the two-other-than level — generally not a move we favor but one that, in this spot, feels like a serious vote of confidence. This runner owns four wins on off tracks and four at the six-furlong trip, so those factors play to his favor, and Gonzalez not only elevates him here but he also runs him for the condition rather than the optional $50,000 claiming tag. Not sold? Give a look to #6 Two Charley’s (7-2). Last out, in his first try since May, he was in the midst of a spirited rally when he took a right turn at the eighth pole, swerving about a dozen wide before jockey David Egan could get him straightened away. He still rallied for second and gets Trevor McCarthy up here.
In his third start off an eight-month layoff, #5 Concordia’s Way (4-1) drops to the $8,000 level, which seems likely to be a spot at which, if he moves forward at all, he can be very competitive. His major rivals here are #2 Young American (7-2), who ran poorly last out against better but fits snugly in this spot (though his winless ledger in four off-track tries is a concern); and #4 Midnight Cry (6-1), who finds an easier group here and loves this 5 1/2-furlong trip.
- RACE 7
- SCR: 10, 11
- RACE 8
- SCR: None
- RACE 9
- SCR: 3, 10