Laurel Park picks and ponderings Apr. 5, 2019
The favorite in here, and our top choice, is #1 Untruthful Sonnet (7-5), who on balance just looks to be faster than her rivals. She doesn’t win much — just 1-for-25 in her career — but it’s worth noting that 17 of those losses have come on turf. Last out on a sloppy dirt track at the Fair Grounds, she was a respectable fourth in a race that’s produced three next-out winners. Of the rest, the best value on offer looks to be #4 Hard Rockin Blues (4-1). She galloped by almost nine lengths in her last, earning a career-best 47 Beyer speed fig; the second choice in here is #2 Bash (8-5), who also galloped by almost nine lengths while getting a 53. But note that Hard Rockin Blues and Bash beat the exact same horses — Iam a Dancer and Hey Mabel — by the exact same margin, and that leading local rider Trevor McCarthy gets off Bash to ride the favorite here. Might as well take the horse that’s 4-1 versus the one that’s 8-5 in that circumstance.
It’s $16,000 claimers in the second going seven furlongs, and our top choice was set to be Baduke, who’s scratched. That lands us on the favorite, #5 Gold Man (2-1), who’s been running credibly versus better and might sit a good trip just off the speed of #3 Cort’n Asong (3-1).
In the last couple of years, leading local trainer Claudio Gonzalez is 23-for-53 — that’s 43 percent — when dropping horses in half in claiming price. That’s what he’s doing with #3 Free to Trump (3-1), who narrowly won last out at the $12,500 never-two level and now finds his way to the bottom in never-three company. The jury is out on whether the added furlong — this test is at seven — will work to his benefit or not. If not, give a look to longshot #4 Ticker Tape Parade (12-1). Two back, this one ran competitively at this level, and a return to that would put him right in the mix in this group. It’s an inconsistent group, though, so you’ll want a few on your ticket.
- RACE 1
- SCR: None
- RACE 2
- SCR: 6
- RACE 3
- SCR: None
Bottom-level maidens take the stage in the fourth, and #7 Belmonte (9-5) is a solid favorite in here off a runner-up effort against similar last out. But that was nearly two months ago, and trainer Larry Demeritte is just 2-for-53 off similar layoffs in recent years. This one could — and probably should — win here, but the odds figure to be short, and there’s enough of a question to fish around a little bit. That pointed us to #6 Liar (6-1). The Lori Testerman trainee ran decently two back against better in his first start off a two-month freshening, cuts back to that six-furlong trip here, and makes his third start off the break.
This Maryland-bred allowance contest looks to be pretty competitive; favored #8 Sparty (5-2) is a major player on best but has been known to throw in a clunker from time to time. He ran well last out to be third, but he did lose the speed duel to eventual winner Worth His Salt and then gave up the place to late-running Clever Mind. He could win here, but we’ll try to beat him with #1 Martini Kid (9-2). The Michael Moore trainee has won two straight, including an allowance score at Penn National last out. He has speed and, breaking from the rail, might go right to the front, but he’s demonstrated the ability to stalk and pounce, as well. Jockey Silvestre Gonzalez comes along for the ride, his only mount of the day.
The most intriguing runner on the card might well be #7 Rough Sea (7-5). This Include gelding was a $50,000 claim out of his debut, back in April 2017. He made a pair of decent tries against high-end maidens in the next few months but disappeared after that August. Here, the Niall Saville trainee returns after a break of some 18 months and plummets all the way to the bottom. Those are awfully short odds on a horse surrounded by a lot of questions. We’ll take a swing at beating him with another class dropper, #3 Midskipman (12-1). The Jerry Robb trainee flashed brief speed in his debut two levels higher before backing out; he makes just his second career start here and can improve against a modest field with no early speed sorts. Also of note: two runners here, #1 Conquistodor Fuego (6-1) and #6 Creepy the Crab (8-1) have made a combined 72 starts without a win. The former is 0-for-37, the latter 0-for-35.
- RACE 4
- SCR: 1
- RACE 5
- SCR: 4
- RACE 6
- SCR: None
The morning line, and likely post time, favorite in this starter/optional claiming race is #4 Global Citizen (8-5), who probably will go off favored for the fifth consecutive race. But he’s lost his last two at the level, and it’s a good enough group that it’s worth declining short odds if that’s what it comes to. Our top choice is #1 Two Swords (5-2). The Mike Trombetta trainee made his first start since last June last out and impressed, cruising to victory by nearly four lengths. If he can repeat that, or move forward off of it, he has every right to win in this spot, and of the three to run back from that last race, all three have finished in the money next out.
Another wide open race here, with starter/optional claiming types going a flat mile. We’ll take #7 Grand Oasis (6-1) on top. Trainer Claudio Gonzalez claimed this runner three back for $16,000, jumped him up (and just missed) at the $40,000 maiden level, then broke his maiden for $25,000. Here, for his first try against winners, Gonzalez protects the horse from being claimed. Gonzalez is 19-for-73 with horses following a maiden win in recent years. Also worth consideration here are the favorite, #2 Shortlist (5-2), who drops from $40,000 company in New York for trainer Jeremiah Englehart; and #8 Le Gros Bill (8-1), who might be the main speed in here and comes out of the red-hot Kenny Cox barn (6-for-12 in 2019).
It’s pretty hard to get past #8 Day the Music Died (3-1) in this maiden test. It’s also hard to think you’ll get 3-1 on him, particularly after three scratches, but if you do, grab it. He led late in his debut, against maiden special weight runners, before tiring to fourth, and the winner V. I. P. Ticket, returned to win a Charles Town allowance. This one shortens up slightly here for his second start and figures to be a handful in here. We’re also using #7 Kickstarter (6-1). The Mary Eppler trainee has been firing morning bullets while working towards his debut here, and Eppler has proven that she can get a horse ready to win first time out.
- RACE 7
- SCR: None
- RACE 8
- SCR: 6
- RACE 9
- SCR: 10, 11, 12