Laurel Park picks and ponderings Mar. 31, 2019
by Frank Vespe
In which we pick the races from Laurel Park each day…
Post time: 1:10 p.m.
Carryovers: Rainbow Pick 6 — $1,706; Late Pick 5 — $6,250
Stat of the day: Trainer Bernie Houghton wins at an 18 percent clip with horses wheeling back on one to 10 days rest.
The lid-lifter looks to set up perfectly for favored #5 Humbolt Street (8-5). In a race full of closers, the main speed is #2 Mine the Store (6-1), who enters in good form but might be an inch not as good as the best in here. Humbolt Street, with Samuel Cardona up for Dale Capuano, figures to sit just off Mine the Store’s flank and to take over when ready, with the closers along too late.
This is not a great group of $40,000 maiden claimers, and that’s compounded by the scratch of morning line favorite Cornetta’s Choice. In the absence of any genuine standouts, let’s take a swing with #4 Lilo’s Call (6-1). The first-time starter is a daughter of Drosselmeyer and is trained by Chuck Lawrence. She’s the first foal to race out of a winning Aloma’s Ruler mare. Lawrence strikes at about 10 percent with debut runners, and this miss has been gradually stretching out the distance after getting her going again in February. Hot-riding bug Julio Correa is up.
This one seems to come down to a pair of runners, the lightly raced #2 Mr Smurthwaite (9-5) and solid #5 Elusive Hero (2-1). The former broke his maiden last out in his second start at Tampa Bay Downs. Transferred here into Jamie Ness’s barn, he’ll take advantage of having debuted at the $25,000 level and figures to be forwardly placed after having pressed a fast pace going seven furlongs last time. The latter has run two good races since being claimed by Hugh McMahon (and one stinker in between). The stinker was against allowance foes and on a muddy, sealed track; he’ll probably catch a good strip today. Katie Davis is up.
- RACE 1
- SCR: None
- RACE 2
- SCR: 3, 5
- RACE 3
- SCR: None
Capt. Obvious strikes again here, as this one looks like it’s #2 Taco Supream (2-1) or bust. The Damon Dilodovico trainee returned to action running last out, running a big one to take a starter handicap; of the top five to run back from that race, four have finished in the money in their follow-ups with one winning. And prior to that, this one ran a perfectly credible fourth in the Jennings Stakes at Laurel in December in a race won by Cordmaker, who looks to be an up-and-comer in the region. There’s a kind of wild card in this race, too; why is #7 Mintz (6-1) here? Last out, the Jimmy Jerkens trainee broke his maiden — in his second career start — against maiden special weight rivals at Aqueduct. Jerkens has had just five runners at Laurel in the last five years, and four of those were in stakes races. A-other-than allowances at AQU carry a $70,000 purse, versus just $42,000 at Laurel. Is he good enough to win a first allowance in New York? Perhaps not, but you’d imagine that he’s good enough to give it a try. But here he is, and Jerkens has attracted the services of leading local rider Trevor McCarthy. The verdict: have him on the ticket.
Where’s the speed coming from in this nickel claimer? There’s not much of it, wherever it comes from, but we’re thinking the horse who might control it — or might find a good trip pressing it — is going to be #5 Beatubyachubinose (4-1). She didn’t run too badly last out when chasing a runaway leader early; she couldn’t contain the winner, who was also the 4-5 favorite, but did manage to hold place spot. Here, with Katie Davis up, and no other speed signed on, she might tough to run down.
Three class droppers look to have the edge in this $16,000 maiden claimer. #2 I Love You (8-5) has run respectably in two tries versus maiden special weight foes at Penn National, her last start — her first in three months — having been her first with Lasix. She wheels back on 10 days rest here (Houghton is 18 percent with 1-10 day rests) and gets leading local rider Trevor McCarthy up. #5 Graceygab (15-1) has shown little in two starts to date, most recently at the $40,000 level. She’s taking a two-step drop here, and trainer Claudio Gonzalez is 43 percent in the last two years with similar plummets. And #7 Havennow (9-5) returns to his home track after an unsuccessful trip to the Fair Grounds, where she tried turf for the first time. Trainer Jerry O’Dwyer peels off the blinks for the first time on this miss.
- RACE 4
- SCR: 1
- RACE 5
- SCR: None
- RACE 6
- SCR: None
The chalk in here is the formful #5 Baccarat Fashion (9-5), who arrives off an easy win against starter/optional types last out. She’s a speedster and might be best in here, but she figures to have company early, with #2 Hurricane Sheila (5-2) and #6 Malabar (15-1) both possessing some early lick. That might set things up for #1 Timeless Treasure (4-1). The Mike Trombetta trainee rallied nicely to break her maiden on debut last out at the $50,000 claiming level, and it’s worth noting that she went off favored that day. Trevor McCarthy has the return engagement.
Maiden claiming sorts finish the day going a mile, and we’ll hope for #5 El Rojo (2-1) to graduate on the drop-down in class after a decent try one step up. The favorite could be formidable here, too, as #3 Awesome Rally (8-5) ran credibly last out against special weight rivals. But he’s been away since early December, and this one-mile trip might be a heavy lift for his first try in nearly four months. Trainer Jose Corrales is 4-for-49 off similar layoffs. One place to look for value might be #4 Kustaafu (10-1); the Tony Aguirre trainee has been second and third against similar in his last two.
- RACE 7
- SCR: 3, 7
- RACE 8
- SCR: None