Laurel Park picks and ponderings Mar. 23, 2019
by Frank Vespe
In which we pick the races from Laurel Park each day…
Post time: 1:10 p.m.
Carryovers: Rainbow 6 — $28,275; Super Hi 5 — $506; Late Pick 5 — $3,069
Stat of the day: With wins in the first, second, and fourth races on Friday, trainer Claudio Gonzalez had compiled a remarkable streak: winning seven consecutive races in which he had one or more starters (he had two in one of the seven). The streak came to an end in yesterday’s sixth race, when In Arrears finished eighth.
Thus far in his short career #5 M G Broker (6-5) has made the rounds, having been claimed four times, including out of his last, when trainer Kieron Magee grabbed him for $12,500. Magee jumps him up to $25,000 here, but off three straight dominant wins, he rates a snug fit in this group. He’s won four of seven overall, including three of four at this one-mile distance. His main competition figures to come from the Wayne Potts trainee #6 Success Hurricane (9-5), who arrives off a win against Charles Town allowance horses after having been thrashed by the local allowance types.
This is not much of a group of $10,000 maidens: the 8-5 morning line favorite, #1 Yes Means No, is 0-for-13 in his career and has lost three straight at this level and approximate distance, last time as the 6-5 favorite. I wouldn’t ignore him but really can’t get excited about short odds on him on top. We’re hoping #2 Orient Point (2-1) might offer slightly better value; the Dove Houghton ran OK a couple races back, and the added ground on offer here might not hurt his cause. Also of note: #3 Fast Will (6-1) gave an improved accounting of himself last out with blinkers added and doesn’t look to be too far off the better ones in here.
In the third, a $16,000 never-three claimer, the favorite is #6 Hot Mic (5-2), but he’s lost at this level already five times, so what’s fun about that? We’ll look to beat him with #2 Nonsuch (4-1) — but be sure to get fair value on this one. The Bill Komlo trainee is winless in seven tries at the trip (and eight overall on the main track), but he’s run second four times. The last time he raced on dirt – in December – he finished second at this level, and both the winner and the show horse won their follow-ups.
- RACE 1
- SCR: None
- RACE 2
- SCR: None
- RACE 3
- SCR: None
The favorite in this first allowance is #1 Aikenetta (8-5), and the Rudy Rodriguez trainee certainly merits serious consideration in this spot. But I think she’s vulnerable: in that last race, as the even-money favorite, she had essentially the entire length of the stretch to get past the leader, who had slowed to a virtual walk (27 1/5 second final quarter-mile), and she couldn’t do it. She could surely win here, but let’s try to beat her. #5 Belle ‘n Tonic (5-2) enters off a three-race win streak, with rising figs against improving competition, and is three-for-three since trainer Dale Capuano claimed her. Regular pilot Jevian Toledo isn’t here — he has a mount in the G3 Hutcheson Stakes at Gulfstream — but Capuano legs up the bug boy Julio Correa.
Three scratches in this nickel claimer have eviscerated our original picks; all three were in our top four. It’s a modest group, and we’ll look to see if the three-year-old #3 Full of Drama (8-1) can get it done. The Hugh McMahon trainee was throttled last out by more expensive sophomores and here tries her elders for the first time, but most of these have been running and failing against similar, so perhaps the fresh face is the way to go here.
The sixth is an intriguing maiden special weight test going six furlongs on the main track. The favorite in here is #6 Great Herman (5-2), who has run well in his first two starts, flashing ample early speed before settling for second in both. He should be on the ticket, but we’re going to try to beat him with #5 Fast Master (3-1). The Graham Motion trainee rallied from far back for the place spot last out, and that looks to have been a good group. Three of his rivals that day — all of whom finished behind him — graduated in their follow-ups, among them Baptize the Boy, who returned to defeat Great Herman for his maiden-breaker. Also of note: Todd Pletcher sends down #1 Creative Budgeting (7-2) to make his debut for owner-breeder The Elkstone Group. Normally, a Pletcher trainee showing up in a Laurel maiden race would be a bad sign, since maiden purses in New York are 50 percent higher than those in Maryland. But in this case, with a Maryland-bred who’s also a homebred, the bonuses available make the purse essentially equivalent to the AQU purse — and against presumably easier company.
- RACE 4
- SCR: None
- RACE 5
- SCR: 7, 8, 11
- RACE 6
- SCR: 2
The morning line favorite in this race, a starter/optional claimer, is #2 Magically Discreet (8-5). The Tim Woolley trainee arrives off pretty good tries against allowance foes and deserves the nod; but note her winless ledger in six tries at the trip. That leads us to look for better value, which arrives in the form of #5 Rag Top (4-1). She ran just a length behind Magically Discreet last out and makes her second start here after being claimed by trainer Jonathan Maldonado (20 percent second off the claim). She can improve in this spot, and we’re not too fretful about Maldonado’s decision to run her for the tag; he only paid $16,000 for her, so losing her for $25,000 wouldn’t be a deal-breaker, particularly if she runs well here, and her upside seems modest.
The odds say this one comes down to a two-horse battle between #1 Global Citizen (8-5) and #7 Throw the Fade (2-1). Both deserve respect here and should appear on the ticket. But neither has run a mile and both appear likely to be forward factors in the early going. A horse in good form with demonstrated affinity for the one-mile trip — and who can sit off the speed and run on late — is #2 Uno Dancer (6-1). The Jose Corrales trainee won easily last out in a heat that’s produced three next out winners and has a 7:2-2-0 mark at the distance.
Let’s see if the combo of Dale Capuano and leading rider Trevor McCarthy can finish the card off with a win for #7 Faze the Nation (6-1). The Cal Nation mare took a thumping last out against better but here drops into the type of company where she’s been competitive before.
- RACE 7
- SCR: None
- RACE 8
- SCR: None
- RACE 9
- SCR: 1A