Laurel Park picks and ponderings June 30, 2019
Doctor Mounty held off Projected narrowly to upset the 2018 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 Jackpot Pick 6 — $25,898; Super High 5 — None; Late Pick 5 — None
Stat of the day: Wet Your Whistle’s victory in the Grade 1 Highlander Stakes at Woodbine was jockey Alex Cintron’s first Grade 1 victory and trainer Mike Trombetta’s second. Both of Trombetta’s G1 triumphs have come at Woodbine.
Maiden claimers kick off the Sunday card, and as is usually the case at this level, you can make a case against all of them. The deserving favorite here is #7 Stay Out (9-5), who switches back to the main track after a terrible turf bow; her one dirt race was a near-miss against similar, and a return to that would be sufficient in here. In search of a little bit better value, we’ll take a swing with #2 Love and Respect (9-2), but honestly, there are some areas of concern here: an $85,000 auction purchase debuting for $25,000 is rarely a good sign, and neither is a Maryland-bred going in for $25,000 first out when one step higher would allow him to waive the tag. But he’s been working OK for a barn that can get them to fire first time out.
The speedy but faint-hearted #1 Kukulkan (3-1) figures to be the horse on the lead early in this maiden turf sprint, and bug boy Avery Whisman will try to accomplish something no one else has managed in 20 starts: to get him to seal the deal and cross the wire first. That 0-for-20 record gives us plenty of pause, though so we’ll look to figure out who’ll run him down late. We’re thinking that horse is #8 Onarock (6-1) for new trainer Tom Proctor. In his lone turf try, he ran fourth against much better at the Fair Grounds, finishing behind Vivid Verse, who won an allowance and then ran a good fourth in a stake in his next two starts. Back on his preferred surface and against a more manageable group, he can graduate here.
A solid group is set to l ine up for this starter allowance, Our top choice here is #8 Rein Supreme (5-2) who won at this level two back and last out was second against allowance foes. But this’d be a race to spread: a bunch of these have proven themselves capable of winning at the level, and all but #3 Lonely Drifter (3-1) — who’s won five straight — have victories at this six-furlong trip.
- RACE 1
- SCR: 6
- RACE 2
- RACE 3
- SCR: 5
The late-running #7 Nakamura (8-5) was along in time last out – on May 4 – to win a Maryland-bred allowance, a race that’s produced a next-out winner. The pace of this one seems likely to play to his advantage, as well, with runners like #2 Hardredcandy (6-1), #4 Runninginthevale (10-1) and #8 Bay Bridge (9-2) all showing an affinity for racing on the front end. Look for a lively pace to develop in this one.
Here’s a 12-furlong maiden race, which is pretty much of a crap shoot. The favorite here is #6 The Keeper (9-5), who gets blinkers on today. The Michael Dickinson trainee hasn’t shown a ton to date, but he’s bred as well as any of these for the distance, and Dickinson, of course, knows how to get a horse ready to go a route of ground. All that said, we’re having a hard time getting excited about taking short odds on a horse whose best turf Beyer is a 38 (and best on any surface is a 55). We’ll see if we can beat him with #8 Stormy Patriot (6-1) for trainer Susan Cooney, who’s been getting some price horses home of late. This one makes his second start of the season in this spot.
The favorite in this a-other-than will likely be #2 Back to Back (5-2). The Arnuad Delacour trainee didn’t miss by much last out against similar, when second after being stalled waiting for room in the lane. Two back he finished fourth behind next-out stakes winner Eons. But a horse we like even better is #10 Taxable Goods (3-1); this Lynn Ashby trainee has a couple of wins at the distance, and last time out was a solid third in a second-level allowance at Delaware behind the solid Dickinson trainee Archaggelos. The drop to a first allowance should suit this one fine.
- RACE 4
- RACE 5
- SCR: 3, 4
- RACE 6
The favorite in this sprint allowance is #5 Thatwouldbegrand (5-2), who certainly has run some good races. But he hasn’t run since April and is working on a streak of four consecutive races with issues at the start. We’ll keep him on the ticket but try to beat him with #1 Awesome Fu (8-1). Two races back, this one crushed open $16,000 claimers at Churchill, which ought to be good enough to win here. His last was a mess — he showed speed and stopped, finishing sixth — but it came over a sloppy, sealed strip he may not have liked. Catching a fast track today and breaking from the rail, he figures to grab the early advantage and take them as far as he can. He’s been worse than second just once in five tries at this 6 1/2-furlong trip.
Over the last two years, trainer the wagering ROI on all of trainer Marilyn McMullen’s horses racing at Laurel is $3.56, meaning that for each $2 win wager you’d placed, you would have received $3.56 back. For good measure, seven of her eight starters at Laurel this meet have finished in the money, all of which seems like sufficient reason to back #2 Cerulean Springs (6-1).
The good news for #8 Firth (4-1) is that the scratch of #5 Moon Chant (3-1) figures to leave her all by her lonesome on the front end early. The bad is that the additional half-furlong here versus her last probably doesn’t play to her advantage but instead likely makes her more vulnerable to the late run of #3 Lunar Rille (5-2), who is clearly a much better horse at four than she was at three and who crushed never-two rivals last time. Not sure how great a group that was, but she beat them easily and certainly figures to have the best chnce of overhauling Firth in the late stages.
- RACE 7
- SCR: 3
- RACE 8
- SCR: 1
- RACE 9
- SCR: 1, 5