Laurel Park picks and ponderings June 1, 2019
Doctor Mounty held off Projected narrowly to upset the G3 BWI Turf Cup at Laurel Park. Photo by Laurie Asseo.
by Frank Vespe
In which we pick the races from Laurel Park each day…
Post time: 1:10 p.m.
Carryovers: Rainbow Pick 6 — $793; Super High 5 — $7,568; Late Pick 5 — $4,629
Stat of the day: Jockey Xavier Perez started the meet in style, winning Friday’s two baby races, aboard longshot Guilty in the first and heavy favorite Quad Eights in the third.
Starters on the main track kick off the Saturday card, and the clear favorite in here is #4 Bobby G (8-5), who had won four of five prior to his most recent start, when, at 65-1 in the G3 Pimlico Special, he ran evenly to finish 12th against a much, much better group than he’ll see here. If he’s ready, he should be tough in here, but our one concern is seeing him back on two weeks rest after what had to have been by far the toughest race of his career: 1 1/4 miles against a very legit group of animals. Given our concerns about how that might affect his readiness today, we’ll try to beat him with #1 Cloud Chaser (3-1). This Tim Kreiser trainee has been cleaning up against similar level rivals at PEN and CT, having won three straight, he has tactical speed, and Kreiser generally doesn’t ship to LRL without good reason (21% strike rate). Jockey Edwin Gonzalez is along for the ride.
Talk about ambitious! For her first try on the turf, trainer Mike Trombetta entered #5 Cover Photo (6-1) in the $100,000 Hilltop Stakes on the Black-Eyed Susan undercard. That was a major vote of confidence in a horse that had won two straight against much lesser, and while it didn’t go all that well — she finished seventh at 77-1 — it suggests he thinks highly of this lightly raced Munnings filly. She can be a player in here and offers value.
The strong fave in this maiden event is #2 Smokin Princess (6-5), who is making her first start in the Claudio Gonzalez barn. She may well win, but the value just isn’t there at anything like 6-5; she was a well-beaten third a level down two back and followed that up as a well-beaten second against similar. She’s a strong favorite more by default than by what she’s accomplished, which makes her ripe for picking against. Let’s try to beat her with #4 Crossingthevalley (10-1). This Pat Magill trainee makes her second start here; in her debut, she flipped in the gate prior to the race, then showed good speed early before (not unexpectedly) tiring. She drops down a level here, and if she has the gate thing figured out, can step forward. Xavier Perez is up.
- RACE 1
- RACE 2
- RACE 3
Here’s a wide-open turf sprint in which the bettor has plenty to choose from. We landed on #6 Salt Pond (7-2). The Sanchez-Salomon barn has been doing well thus far in ’19, and this runner’s last might be better than it looks; there was a lot going wrong in it for her, some of it self-inflicted. She was trying to get out early, she never seemed truly comfortable, she had to steady in behind horses in the stretch. Yet for all of that, she kept trying to the wire, and though 10th, she was beaten less than five lengths. Overall, she’s kept better company than these — including that last, which was against allowance foes — and can be formidable here.
The favorite in this Maryland-bred allowance turf sprint is #2 Introduced (3-1), who two back just missed against three-year-old allowance rivals and here tries older — albeit state-breds — for the first time. She may well win, but she kinda packed it in last out in the Hilltop (fading to ninth), and we’re not sure how she’ll handle seeing older rivals. Instead, we’ll use #4 Misty On Pointe (4-1) on top; this Sagamore Farm runner closed nicely along the rail for third last time out after getting bumped around leaving the starting gate, she owns three wins at the trip, and in her second start of ’19 can improve. One negative: the horse who won her last was Ying Yue, a horse Introduced finished ahead of two back. Also: don’t sleep on #7 Magician’squestion (5-1) or #8 What the Beep (6-1): both runners, coming off lengthy layoffs, have already won the open a-other-than.
Last time out, #5 Gorbachov (2-1) won a speed duel but lost the war as Glory Hound sat off the speed and then came and got the money. He’ll try to make amends here in a spot where he figures to be the dominant speed.
- RACE 4
- RACE 5
- RACE 6
In this grassy maiden event, the runners that have tried the turf haven’t shown a ton, which leads you to look at some of the others. The two most promising, it appears, are #4 Mice and Men (10-1) and #8 Closer Look (2-1). The former is making his first start after the claim by Dale Capuano, who wins 19 percent with first-time claims, and tries the lawn for the first time. His siblings generally have been better on turf than dirt, and if this runner, who showed early promise, can step forward, he rates a solid shot at enticing odds. The latter, from the Graham Motion barn, also tries turf for the first time — and has plenty of that in his bloodlines — while dropping from the $40,000 level.
Our top choice here is scratched, making this a wide-open affair, and we’ll use the Arnaud Delacour-trained #3 Surprise Twist (3-1) on top as he removes blinkers in search of a better trip.
This featured three-other-than presents an interesting handicapping question: how ready will #7 Utmost (9-5) be to go two turns in his season bow? He’s a Grade 2 winner — took the Sky Classic at Woodbine last summer — which gives him a big class edge on these. Trainer Graham Motion has a good record at bringing horses back off their winter breaks, and this one has a steady string of works in preparation. On the other hand, he hasn’t raced since October at Keeneland and has generally done his best work going farther than 1 1/16 miles. The verdict: we think the class edge will prove decisive here and are using him on top.
Here’s another grass race where most of the established grass form is merely middling. We’ll give a shot to #12 Ego Trip (6-1), who didn’t run particularly well last time out on the lawn but has some better efforts to run back to, as well as a couple of runners trying turf for the first time. Our top pick in this race also is scratched, so we’ll use a couple of longer shots on top on the theory that the shorter-priced horses don’t appear to have any material advantage.
That was all kinds of a trainwreck for #4 Lemon Drop Dreamer (8-1) in her debut. The Lemon Drop Kid filly bore well out on the first turn, was very green throughout, and made no impact on the race. But here’s the interesting thing: trainer Jonathan Maldonado wheels this one back at a higher level just five days later, and he attracts the services of veteran jockey Julian Pimentel. Pimentel and Maldonado win at a 17 percent clip together with a positive ROI. Those all seem like positives, and against a pretty modest group, they might be enough. Look for an improved try by this runner. The horse likely to go favored in here (and one who ought to be on the ticket) is #2 Diffuse Nebula (5-2). This Motion trainee’s future may actually be on the lawn, but against what on paper is a fairly nondescript group, her present on the main track might be good enough. Motion wins with 17% of first-timers on the dirt.
- RACE 7
- RACE 8
- RACE 9
- RACE 10