Laurel Park picks and ponderings August 2, 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 — $13,508; Super High 5 — None; Late Pick 5 — None
Notable: The seventh race allowance includes three horses that have won stakes, and all three have earned at least $350,000 in their careers.
Mid-level claiming horses kick off the card, and the favorite is the class-dropping #1 Rag Top (5-2), who ran pretty well last time out one step higher. But after five failures at that level, trainer Jonathan Maldonado’s patience appears to have expired, and this miss lands in a spot she should be very competitive. There’s not a ton of early lick in this race, and the likely early pace-setter is #3 Determined Mission (3-1), who bested never-two claimers last out in an off-the-turf 5 1/2-furlong race. That might leave #4 Allison K (4-1) in the best spot of all, pressing a possibly distance-limited rival before taking over. This one ran credibly last out in her first try for trainer Linda Albert against similar, beaten just two lengths in a race that’s produced two next-out winners from five to run back.
A solid group will contest this starter allowance going 7 furlongs on the main track, and the runner who figures to get most of the wagering attention is the Jose Corrales-trained #5 Bobby G (9-5), who was feasting on this type of company earlier this year. But his last couple — since a quixotic try in the G3 Pimlico Special — aren’t quite up to his previous level. So while he rates a shot in here, we’ll try to beat him with #6 Regal Quality (5-2). This one ran a really good race last time out in his first try in the Donald Barr barn, breaking slowly, rushing up into contention, then having to be steadied near the half-mile pole before running on gamely. The show horse from that race returned to win Wednesday at Delaware. Jorge Ruiz will ride.
Chalk time! #4 Hello Amigo (8-5) ran a good one on debut, continuing willingly to the wire to be second, and if he can move forward off that, he should win here. It won’t be easy, though, as #6 Galerio (7-5) has run a couple of pretty good races going a route of ground for trainer Kevin Boniface.
- RACE 1
- RACE 2
- RACE 3
The favorite in this $12,500 claimer is the Ferris Allen-trained #1 Secret Or Not (3-1), whose secret, almost certainly, is that this race, her first in 2019, is designed to get the Virginia-bred ready to run at Colonial Downs later in the month. That points us elsewhere, namely to #8 Capucine (4-1), who picks up leading rider Trevor McCarthy today and who has prior tries that are very competitive at this level.
This sure is an interesting spot to see #8 West Coast Sky (6-1). Trainer John Ennis hasn’t made a start at Laurel in the last five years, and this one has been training at his base in Kentucky but makes the long journey to Laurel to debut in $25,000 company, and solid local jock Sheldon Russell signs on. This one’s been training forwardly, and maybe we’re grasping at straws, but those facts all seem to suggest a live runner here. Of the few that have run, #6 Shanna’s Gray (5-2) gave the best accounting of herself, running second at this level on the main track. There’s not a lot of turf in the immediate family, so it’ll be interesting to see how she handles the green. Angel Cruz will ride.
Here’s a nice-looking group of horses in this three-other-than allowance/optional claimer. Our top pick in here is #6 Quick Witted (7-2), who ran well to be third last out in the Just a Kiss at Delaware Park behind multiple graded stakes winner Capla Temptress. In that race, the Ham Smith trainee had to steady briefly on the turn for home, regrouped to slip through inside, and challenged for the lead. She couldn’t quite go on with the winner but was a very good third, and that should set her up nicely for her return to allowance company. Another runner who needs to be on the ticket is #5 Beautiful Memory (9-2) for trainer Michael Stidham. This one, making her first North American start, actually has already won three allowance races while racing in England and France but qualifies here because she has no 2019 earnings. A horse we didn’t use but are still curious about is #3 Madame X. (5-1), who obliterated a two-other-than field last out at long odds. In that race, she tracked the pace from the rear of the field before exploding past everyone when uncovered in the lane. Her form has been a bit in-and-out over her career, but if that’s her new normal, she could be a handful in here.
- RACE 4
- SCR: 3
- RACE 5
- RACE 6
Speaking of horses that qualify for an allowance via a secondary condition, here’s #1 Share the Ride (2-1), who has already won three allowance races himself but who qualifies on the “have not won $30,000 since March 2” condition by an eyelash; his winning purse May 19 was $29,400 (tip o’ the cap to racing secretary Chris Merz for explaining this). He finished just behind #3 Wonderful Light (9-5) last time out, in the Rumson Stakes, but we’ll see if he can turn the tables here.
Last time out, #3 King Darius (6-1) broke his maiden in his first start in about 15 months. That was at the $20,000 level — and trainer Gustavo Chacon waived the claiming tag — and now he shows up in the appropriate spot (for $16,000) and brings jockey John Bisono along for the ride. Those all seem like good signs that this one should be ready to run another good one today. A price horse we’re a little interested in this contest is #5 Bay of Rocks (10-1); the Jason Smith trainee broke sharply last time out, then was outfooted in the early going, before doing something he’d never really done before: rallying into the pace. He claimed second, albeit a well-beaten second, but it showed a new dimension to a horse that had been all speed previously.
The most interesting horse in this $25,000 maiden claimer — though not our top selection — is #4 Oceanographer (9-2), whose connections appear to be drowning with this guy; they bought the son of Super Saver for $220,000 as a yearling but are so disenchanted (before even a single start) that they’re willing to let him go for about a tenth of his purchase price. So you gotta be curious to see him run. Our top choice is the chalky #1 Big Boots (5-2), whose way to victory may have been cleared by the scratch of Bourbon and Ice. A horse worth a look at a price in here is #10 Sin Bin (12-1), who was never really involved in his debut but did make up quite a bit of ground in the last half of the race, has been working pretty smartly towards his first start in five months, and will get Feargal Lynch up.
The deserving favorite in this turf starter/optional claimer is #2 Maryland Pride (5-2), who has the best Beyers of these and has been competitive at this level. But he’s also lost three straight at this level, which pushes us to look elsewhere. #8 Seville Barber (7-2) ran a big one last out on the engine in his first try with Lasix, and we think he has a legit shot to improve in here, which would make him tough.
- RACE 7
- RACE 8
- SCR: 1, 2, 9
- RACE 9
- SCR: 3
- RACE 10