Laurel Park picks and ponderings August 4, 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 — $18,258; Super High 5 — None; Late Pick 5 — None
Notable: Trainer Michelle Nevin (#8 Barton Hall, race 4) is 12-for-33 running horses in maiden claiming races at Laurel Park.
A grassy maiden special weight kicks off the card, and we usually try to avoid horses like #4 Outofthepark (2-1), who’s still a maiden after seven tries. But only of those seven — and his best one — came on the grass, and that was two back, when he couldn’t quite get to the winner but rallied smartly for the place. He can graduate in this spot. Others are worth a look, too, though, and we would be hesitant to accept odds much shorter than the morning line on this runner. Among those worth a look are #6 Clear Vision (6-1), an Artie Schiller colt working pretty well towards his debut for trainer Jerry O’Dwyer, and #7 Rising Perry (7-2), who ran a big one two back in his first turf try but who came under a ride midway on the turn last out when finishing third, well behind Outofthepark.
Speaking of firsters for Jerry O’Dwyer, one who cuts an interesting profile is #7 Warrior Queen (6-1) in this one-mile turf maiden. This Declaration of War (he was third, beaten a head, in the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic and was a multiple G1 winner on turf) filly has been training in Ocala towards her debut and apparently just arrived here to run. She has two one-mile works under her belt in just slightly faster than two-minute lick time, and really, it’s anyone’s guess what she might be (or be doing here). Feargal Lynch will ride. The favorite in here, who also should be on the ticket, is #6 Princess Cadey (2-1), who was a decent second on debut on the dirt at this level and is a half-sibling to a three-time turf winner.
There’s certainly nothing wrong with the work that’s been done to date by #7 Hanalei’s Houdini (2-1), who has run well on both turf and dirt, the latter of which is today’s surface. Two back, in his last dirt try, he was a willing, if well-beaten, third at this level. The winner that day was Top Line Growth, who returned to win (via DQ) the Iowa Derby before running fourth in the G3 West Virginia Derby yesterday. This runner returned to win a Maryland-bred allowance on the lawn and now returns to the main track. He’ll be on the ticket, though we’ll try to beat him with #5 Absolved (3-1), who ran a big one two back on the main track in his first start of 2019. In that contest, he was wide throughout, made a bid for the lead leaving the quarter pole, but then — understandably enough — tired. In his third of the year, he can improve here.
- RACE 1
- SCR: 1
- RACE 2
- SCR: 5, 8
- RACE 3
- SCR: 4
Off a solid, front-running effort against better, #1 Avocado (2-1) rates a big shot and is our top choice in this maiden event. Another couple worth a look are #8 Barton Hall (9-2) for trainer Michelle Nevin, who is 12-for-33 with maiden claimers at Laurel; and #9 Gold Cadillac (5-1), who ran a pretty good one last out and was (in our view) unjustly DQed from second.
Last time out, the Todd Pletcher-trained #5 Varansi (3-1) posted an easy, front-running score against first allowance rivals at Monmouth Park, and she has the look of a filly going in the right direction, with two straight wins. But you have to imagine that the favorite, #8 Goodonehoney (5-2) isn’t going to let her get loose on the lead today. The concern with the latter is that she’s coming back three weeks after a somewhat dismal outing in the G2 Delaware Handicap, and you have to wonder if having faced the toughest foes she’s ever faced at the longest distance she’s ever run might take something out of her. We’ll take a shot to beat them both with #6 Vindictive Ways (10-1), whose last dirt try, two back, was a stunningly impressive effort at 23-1 odds. Wide on both turns in an allowance at Delaware, she took the lead while still in hand leaving the quarter pole and then was kept to task to win easily by three. The runner-up, #4 Scatrattleandroll (8-1), returned to win a Laurel allowance by seven. If Vindictive Ways can reprise that sort of effort, she’ll outrun her long odds today.
Last time out, #1 Go Magician Go (5-2) was a mile the best while facing the same kind of rivals she’ll face today. That was her second start of ’19, and the question on the table is whether that was a fluke, one-off effort or the new normal. If the latter, she’ll win here.
- RACE 4
- RACE 5
- SCR: 1
- RACE 6
A couple of scratches don’t do this third-level allowance any favors, and this one runs straight through #6 Force the Pass (2-1). In his last two starts, he was third in the G2 Monmouth, which was won by G1 winner Almanaar and out of which Synchrony won a Grade 2 next out; and then fourth in a Belmont allowance behind Lucullan, who won a $100,000 stake at Saratoga yesterday. He catches a more manageable group today, with one question mark: will #2 Archaggelos (5-1) be able to slow it down enough on the front end that he’ll be able to withstand Force the Pass late? With the scratches, any possibility of pace pressure on Archaggelos seems to have evaporated.
There are questions with the two favorites in the nightcap. #9 Outvoted (9-5) has rounded into good form his last couple but gets both a trainer change and rider change here after conditioner Willie Kee claimed him off of Juan Vazquez. Kee will leg up Jerry Villegas. Will they be able to sustain his recent good work? And on the other side is #2 Siwrrlie Shirlie (5-2), who’s been in awful recent form but returns to the track and trainer (John Salzman, Jr.) where she’s done her best work. Can she recapture her winning ways? We’re leery of taking short odds on horses with question marks, so we end up with #5 He’s Not Curly (3-1), who takes a big (but appropriate) drop in class here for his third start after a five-month break. Trainer Chuck Lawrence is 8-for-20 with a $5.45 (!) ROI with similar moves. Alex Cintron will ride.
- RACE 7
- SCR: 1, 5
- RACE 8