Laurel Park picks and ponderings Apr. 20, 2019
Plenty of stakes action later on the card, but the day kicks off with starter/optional claimers, and this race runs directly through the favorite, #6 Sunman (7-5). The Claudio Gonzalez trainee has been keeping beter company than these generally, living in allowance company, and in his last two, he caught a couple of the track’s more promising three-year-olds in Still Dreaming and Wendell Fong. Cutting back to a distance he likes in a race with some early pace in it, he should be a handful. Gonzalez is 11-for-50 in the last five years bringing horses back on rest of a week or less.
Maiden claimers will go a route of ground on the turf in this one with an overwhelming favorite in the form of #1 Mutaraabit (1-1). The Mike Pino-trained son of Medaglia d’Oro has run several perfectly fine races against maiden special weight rivals at Laurel and Parx without getting the money, and his dam scored her only career win on the grass. But we’re getting a bit of heartburn at the notion of taking even money or less on a runner trying the turf for the first time. We’ll keep him on the ticket but try to beat him with the Tim Keefe-trained #13 Dynastic (8-1), who at least offers more enticing odds. The Broken Vow gelding hasn’t run terribly at higher levels — not as well as Mautaraabit, though — but should appreciate the class relief here. And he has three siblings who’ve won on the lawn.
Here’s how we think this one plays out: #4 Throw the Fade (5-2) makes the early lead, leads until late, but then is passed by #2 Totalitario (2-1), who goes on to win. The latter has run two good ones against similar and looks to be in the catbird’s seat here. The former has run well recently, as well, and his victory last out has seen both the runner-up and show horse win their follow-ups, the latter on Thursday at Laurel.
- RACE 1
- SCR: 5
- RACE 2
- RACE 3
- SCR: 8
Two of these figure better than their rivals. #3 Something Magical (7-2) makes her first start since last June and first for trainer Phil Schoenthal, but she owns two solid turf tries: an easy win in maiden company and a good runner-up effort against allowance foes in a race won by subsequent stake winner Monte Crista. And #4 Kailee (3-1) arrives off a credible try against Gulfstream allowance foes in which she encoutered traffic woes at the quarter and in upper stretch.
RACE 5 – Frank Whiteley, Jr. Stakes
Man, this is a salty and hard-hitting group of runners to line up in this test — the first in the 2019 MATCH Series. The favorite in here, #5 Lewisfield (5-2), ran a huge one last out, dominating some of these same runners while earning a 102 Beyer speed fig. Also of note in here are #3 Home Run Maker (6-1), who loves this six-furlong trip; and #2 Laki (7-2), who had no answers for Lewisfield last out but keeps churning out solid efforts.
RACE 6 — King T. Leatherbury Stakes
Lot of ways to go in this 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint — both literally, as in a lot of horses here, and figuratively, as in you can make a case for several. We settled on #15 Tricks to Doo (5-1), whose two turf tries to date are just fine. He ran second in the Turf Dash at Tampa, behind Vision Perfect, and of the top four from that even to run back, three won their follow-ups and one was second. This one was one of the winners, as he easily took aan allowance in his return. He’s shown the ability to stalk or close but will have to work out a trip from the far outside. Among the runners he’ll contend with here are the show horse from the Turf Dash, #1 American Sailor (8-1), and Grade 3 winner #11 Proforma (4-1), here making his first start of ’19.
- RACE 4
- SCR: 1
- RACE 5
- SCR: 1
- RACE 6
- SCR: 5
RACE 7 — Primonetta Stakes
Another MATCH Series race and another interesting contest in which the favorite is #2 Ms Locust Point (2-1), a runner wholoves the six-furlong trip and loves Laurel. That said, there are chinks in the armor: she hasn’t won a stakes race in over a year, she’s lost in added money company in her last two visits to central Maryland, and there are other speed types signed on here. All of that pushes us towards one of Linda Rice’s pair of runners, #1 Startwithsilver (3-1). Regular pilot Junior Alvarado is along for the ride — picking this one over her other runner here, #8 D J’s Favorite (12-1) — on a runner who closed nicely last out to take the Correction at Aqueduct and who makes her third start off an eight-month break here. She ought to get a good trip off the speed and have every chance to mow ’em down late. She’s also won five of her 10 six-furlong tries, so you’d imagine that all systems are go.
RACE 8 — Dahlia Stakes
Onetime Sagamore Farm trainer Ignacio Correas returns to the scene of the crime today at Laurel, and he does so with our top choice in this one-mile contest, #1 Viva Vegas (3-1). A mare by The Factor, she’s been keeping the right sort of company with a runner-up effort two back in the G3 Endeavour and a fifth-place finish, beaten three, in the G2 Hillsborough. The winner of the latter, Rymska, returned to be a good second in G1 company in her follow-up. This group projects to be a bit more manageable than those were, and while G3 My Charmer runner up #6 La Moneda (2-1) also looks to be a major player in here, the former has the recency edge, as La Moneda hasn’t started since December.
RACE 9 — Weber City Miss Stakes
In her last three starts, two in stakes company, #6 Las Setas (7-5) grabbed the early lead and drew away to victory. The stars appear to be aligned for a repeat of those outcomes here, as she projects to be the major speed in a compact field under Jevian Toledo. The second choice in here, #1 Our Super Freak (7-2), has tried Las Setas in her last two without success, being beaten by five both times, and while the addition of top pilot Trevor McCarthy is a plus, she’ll need some things to change dramatically to find a different outcome. Instead we’ll look to two newcomers to fill out the underneath positions. #3 Trapped N My Mind (12-1) is still a maiden but rallied smartly to second last out in a $90,000 maiden contest at Oaklawn Park and seems to be moving in the right direction; she’ll make her second start off a five-month break here for trainer Jesse Cruz. And #2 Pat’s No Fool (4-1) rallied well to win the Maddie May, for New York-breds at the Big A, at 16-1 odds in her last start.
RACE 10 — Federico Tesio Stakes
Speaking of races that figure to look like their predecessors, #2 Alwaysmining (1-5) towers over his five rivals in this “win and you’re in” contest for the Preakness. His last four Beyer figs are are beter than any one fig that any of his rivals has ever posted, and he seems likely to control this one up front with regular rider Danny Centeno up. A win here would punch a Preakness ticket for a runner riding a five-race win streak. The second choice here, at a hefty 8-1, is #5 Tybalt. The Claudio Gonzalez trainee hasn’t run badly in his last two but has been well behind the favorite in both and looks likely to suffer a similar fate in here. We’re gonna take a bit of a shot and use #3 Dixie Drawl (12-1) underneath here. The lightly raced Ham Smith trainee won at second asking. Last out in the Private Terms, he didn’t make much impact, but it was a bit of a curious race; he broke well enough but slipped back through the field to last before running on in the lane to get fourth. He may not have liked all the dirt he was getting in his face and in this spot, Victor Carrasco might try to get him out in the clear early.
RACE 11 — Henry S. Clark Stakes
If we’re right, trainer Correas will have a big day today, as our top choice in this contest, which often produces one or more G2 Dixie starters, is #8 Real Story (5-1). This four-year-old son of Fast Bullet, a Grade 3 winner at three, had a useful season debut when running second — a length behind 4-5 Ticonderoga — in a Gulfstream Park allowance. Here, making his second start since last August, he owns the right to move forward, and any forward move puts him right there. He figures to be a major pace player and will try to take ’em all the way in here. It won’t be easy, though, runners like the hard-hitting #3 Irish Strait (2-1) and local fan faves #1 Phlash Phelps (9-2) and Just Howard (9-2) figure to have something to say in the outcome — and that’s to say nothing of defending Maryland Million Turf champ #5 Talk Show Man (8-1).
- RACE 7
- SCR: None
- RACE 8
- SCR: 2, 4, 8, 13
- RACE 9
- SCR: 5
- RACE 10
- SCR: 6
- RACE 11
- SCR: 2