Laurel Park picks and ponderings August 18, 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 — $43,972; Super High 5 — None; Late Pick 5 — None
Notable: Today is the closing day of the meet, which means mandatory payouts of all wagers, including the Rainbow 6 with a carryover of nearly $44,000.
We’re gonna give a little bit of short shrift to these first three races, preferring to focus on the six races in the Jackpot Rainbow 6. Here in the first, a bottom maiden, we’ll take #5 Graceygab (8-5), a Claudio Gonzalez trainee who figures to benefit from the cutback to seven furlongs after being right there until the last eighth in her last two.
Last time out, #3 Caterina One (5-2) had an absolutely disastrous trip and still finished fourth beaten less than two lengths. She broke awkwardly, rushed up to contend, but then had nowhere to go in the lane, shifting in and out multiple times in search of room. A cleaner trip will make her a winner today.
Here’s a pretty raggedy group of nickel claimers, and we’ll see about a mild upset for #6 Grecian Dancer (5-1), set to give trainer Leonard Downs his first start of the year. This one ran on late last time out to be third, just missing second, and both runners to run back have won their follow-ups.
- RACE 1
- RACE 2
- SCR: 5, 8
- RACE 3
RACE 4 — The Rainbow Pick 6 starts here!
We’re hunting an upset to kick off the Pick 6 in what is a wide-open, evenly matched group. In a group with a lot of runners with early zip — including a couple of stretching-out sprinters — one horse who figures to be running on late is #1 Earned It (10-1). The Sam Davis trainee finished up with interest last time out against similar, rallying into fourth, and while well beaten by the winner, he was just a length-and-a-half shy of second. That was a plus group he saw that day; winner Top Line Growth returned to win the Iowa Derby next out, show horse Hanalei’s Houdini won a Maryland-bred allowance next out, and the runner-up, Tappin Cat, finished second in yesterday’s Star De Naskra at Laurel. Another who could benefit from the expected early lick (and who figures anyway) is #5 Absolved (5-2). Trainer Claudio Gonzalez has two in here, both of which were ridden by Victor Carrasco last time, and Carrasco picks this one to ride here.
Two races ago, #9 Jo’s Bold Cat (4-1) won a never-won-two starter/optional claimer like this one with an eye-catching move, rallying sharply the final furlong to win with ease, and a repeat of that effort would make him an absolute handful in this spot. In his follow-up, trainer Kelly Rubley stretched him out to a mile, and while he didn’t run badly, he didn’t have the same closing punch. Dialed back here, look for Pimentel to take back before unleashing that late kick. There doesn’t seem to be a ton of early speed in here, though, and that may advantage a runner like #8 Stroll Smokin (5-1). The Mark Reid trainee dueled for the lead two back and won that duel but could not contain Jo’s Bold Cat; if he gets a bit of an easier trip here, he might have more to offer late.
This race feels like your best chance to single in this sequence. #3 Love You Much (2-1) is in very good form right now and has a big shot in this race. Two back he was a willing third in the Ben’s Cat Stakes, and last time, at this level, he was very game but could not quite contain Eastern Bay while finishing clear of the rest; Eastern Bay, a recent winner of a three-other-than, was there dropping into a two-other-than (for the tag), so finishing a head behind him was a terrific effort. We’re thinking the best chance of an upset here belongs to #5 Scrap Copper (8-1). The Ham Smith trainee didn’t run a terrible race last time out in his first start of 2019, and in his only prior try on the greensward — in last year’s Laurel Futurity — he was second a neck. But do note that rider Trevor McCarthy jumps ship to pilot the Jane Cibelli shipper, #10 Coop Tries Harder (8-1).
- RACE 4
- RACE 5
- SCR: 2, 5
- RACE 6
- SCR: 2, 7, 9
Our top pick in here is #2 Hello Amigo (4-1), who ran a good one versus similar on debut to be second. His follow-up was less attractive, but the distance clearly got to him; cutting back from a mile to today’s six furlongs should make a big difference. A first-timer worth a look is the Mary Eppler-trained #3 Fincastle (10-1). The son of El Padrino has been working solidly towards his debut, and he’s a half-brother four horses that have earned at least $199,000, including Power of Snunner, who earned over $600,000.
Here’s a pretty evenly matched group in which we’ll take the Claudio Gonzalez trainee #7 Creative Artist (3-1) on top. This one has won two of five starts to date and prevailed at the never-won-two level last time out. Of the top three finishers to run back, two have won and the other finished second next time, so that seems to have been a quality heat. But honestly, it’s not a strong feeling; #6 McPherson (2-1) has better speed figs (though racing with similar results against similar company), #4 Zitarrosa (6-1) has run well in his last couple, and others can contend here, as well.
The favorite in the nightcap is #6 Jumping Michelle (2-1), another for Claudio Gonzalez who has finished second three straight versus similar. She’s on the ticket, though we’ll try to beat her in the win slot with #4 Hendaya (3-1). The Jane Cibelli trainee galloped to break her maiden two back, ran just evenly last time out on the grass against better, and here finds a spot in which she projects to be the controlling speed. Trevor McCarthy will ride. If you want to add a third horse to your ticket, the logical one is #5 Stay Out (5-2), who broke her maiden easily last time for trainer Dale Capuano, who wins 20 percent of the time following a maiden score.
- RACE 7
- RACE 8
- SCR: 1
- RACE 9
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