Laurel Park picks and ponderings July 11, 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 — $54,433; Super High 5 — None; Late Pick 5 — None
Stat of the day: Jamie Ness leads all trainers with four turf wins at the meet; he’s 4-for-10. A bunch of trainers are right behind with three grass victories.
The card kicks off with an intriguing maiden event, and part of what makes it so intriguing is the presence of the favorite, #5 Night Code (8-5). This son of Honor Code is out of the Unbridled’s Song mare Unenchantedevening, and his sibs include the multiple graded winner Moonshine Memories and a couple of other stakes winners. He cost $500,000 at auction, has some solid breezes under his belt, and ships in for the barn of Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, who can get a horse ready to win at first asking. So… why is he here? Maybe it’s just to keep him apart from another Asmussen trainee, Zyramid, who’s in the first 2-year-old race for the boys at the Spa on Saturday, but it doesn’t feel like a vote of confidence to send your half-million dollar horse to debut at a track where the maiden purse is $40,000, versus the $90,000 on offer at Saratoga. So we’ll see if we can beat him with the Graham Motion-trained #6 Tomcat Black (7-2), a son of Bernardini who’s been training at Fair Hill. But beware… if Night Code doesn’t win, then a bunch of these could.
This six-horse field is almost perfectly evenly matched — not a dime’s worth of difference between them. We went with the Joan Reynolds trainee #5 Glotonasa (7-2), who has the right to improve cutting back to a distance at which she has two wins and has only been worse than third once in six tries.
Another maiden special, this on the turf, and it has an interesting field of its own. The favorite here is #4 Little Skiff (5-2), who ran huge on debut only to be DQed for coming over on a rival (that’s #7 English Heiress (9-2), who could improve here). In her follow-up, though, she kinda blew the turn and then continued to drift wider and wider while Fionnbharr, a horse she dusted first out, scooted up the rail to the win. The cutback in distance may help her here, and a repeat of her first makes her tough. It’s worth noting, though, that trainer Ann Merryman is tinkering with Lasix here, having given it to the horse prior to her second race and now withdrawing it. Not sure what that signifiies, but in any case, we’ll see if we can topple her with #9 Surplus Gold (9-2) who didn’t run poorly last out in a turf sprint at Monmouth that’s produced a next-out winner.
- RACE 1
- RACE 2
- RACE 3
Several runners in this contest saw each other in a June 14 sprint at this level, with #4 Joseph (9-2) rallying late to get the money. He wouldn’t be a shock in here, either, but I dunno… just not quite sold on him. A runner who didn’t run in that spot is our top choice, #7 Rapid Dan (2-1), who chased the very speedy (and, that day, loose on the lead) American Sailor gamely but to no avail last time out. Two back eh finished second, but ahead of Joseph, and he’s got plenty of good efforts in his past.
Not exactly inventing the wheel in this one, we’ll grab the favorite, the lightly raced #6 Always Free (2-1), who takes a two-level drop out of maiden special weight company. A horse we think has a chance to make some noise at a price here is #4 Son of Aponi (15-1), who gets blinkers on in this, his second career start. He rallied a little bit late in his debut after a slow start, though still finishing well behind The Mo U No, an Uncle Mo gelding. Son of Aponi looks like a horse who’ll appreciate the added ground on offer here, and the drop in class won’t hurt, either.
When last seen on the turf, three starts back, #7 Irony of Reality (3-1) led late before settling for second behind the getting-good-now Lemon Zip, who followed that effort with two wins in allowance company, one at Belmont. Irony of Reality has won two straight since, both on the synthetic and Presque Isle, and can run well here.
- RACE 4
- RACE 5
- RACE 6
The only time trainer Mike Stidham has been able to get #1 Reflected (7-2) on the turf, she won by almost five lengths at first asking. She’ll be making her first start since November here — Stidham wins 27% of the time off similar layoffs — and gets Sheldon Russell up. If she can come back as the horse she seemed to be on debut, she could be tough in here.
So here’s the interesting thing: jockey Victor Carrasco rode both #2 Orbiting the Moon (3-1) and #3 Smokin Princess (9-5) last time out, and he lands on the former in this spot, though the latter is trained by local win machine Claudio Gonzalez. Seems like a sign that Orbiting the Moon might be sitting on go here.
- RACE 7
- RACE 8