Laurel Park picks and ponderings September 7, 2019

by | Sep 6, 2019 | Breaking, Handicapping, Maryland, MD Racing

Anna's Bandit

Anna’s Bandit. 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 — $1,297; Super High 5 — $1,138; Late Pick 5 — None

Notable: The 10th and final race could have implications for the Maryland Million Nursery; five of the six runners are by young Maryland sires, including two by Imagining and one each by Golden Lad, Bandbox, and Seville.



It’s going to be the first start in about two months for #2 Heavenly Hattie (9-2), who, after a couple of tries versus better, finds a more congenial spot here today. The Tim Woolley trainee broke her maiden for $25,000, but she ran into a couple of tough groups in a pair of tries against winners at that level, competing in a race at Laurel in June in which the top trio all won next out and then at Delaware, over soft turf, in a race from which four of five to run back have finished in the triple next out. The favorite here is #3 Ravenel (5-2), who was an OK third last out at this level behind next-out winner Jabuticaba, making a middle move to contention before flattening out. Notably, she did finish behind #10 Artful Splatter (3-1), though that runner has lost at this level and approximate distance four straight.


When you drop a horse who’s run competitively for $40,000 (and even in maiden special weight company) in for $16,000, you’re supposed to win the race and lose the horse via the claimbox. Unfortunately for trainer George Weaver, he accomplished only the second part of the equation last time when #5 Mystic Times (5-2) opened a long lead but then had to settle for second in a race taken off the turf. He’ll get back to his preferred surface today, and a return to earlier form would put him right there. The favorite in this even is #6 Rising Perry (2-1), who is dropping from the $40,000 level, and who we’ll keep on the ticket — but he’s hard to love on top as the favorite when he’ll be trying two turns for the first time.


For a big chunk of her debut three weeks back, #1 Khalos Vision (12-1) showed no interest whatsoever in running. After a quarter-mile in the 5 1/2-furlong test, she was seventh (of eight) and 17 lengths behind the leader. But perhaps the light bulb went on then; she made up some 10 lengths the rest of the way, improved to fourth, and galloped out way ahead of her rivals. Also notable is that she picks up top local rider Trevor McCarthy. Look for an improved try today. The favorite is the Gary Contessa-trained shipper #5 Speed Talks (5-2), who ran fourth in a pair of higher-priced maiden claimers at Saratoga. 


  • RACE 1
    • 2-10-3-8
    • SCR: 
  • RACE 2
    • 5-1-6-7
    • SCR: 
  • RACE 3
    • 1-3-5-6
    • SCR: 1



The Arnaud Delacour-trained #3 Back to Back (9-5) is the morning line favorite in this first-level allowance going a mile on the lawn after a near-miss second in a similar race at Delaware Park. The problem, though, is that he’s been stuck at this level for now five consecutive races and, in fact, is winless in five tries on the turf. Sure, he could win here, but he’s now failed as the favorite four straight times, and you could go broke chasing him. We’ll leave him on the ticket but try to find a bit more value, with #6 My Brothersledge (4-1), who has lost this race a number of times himself but did win a Maryland-bred allowance two back. He offers more enticing odds and appears to be in the best form of his career. His trainer, Mike Trombetta, won two on opening day at Laurel.


That was one impressive maiden score for #6 Judi Blue Eyes (5-2), who romped home by six lengths last out against $40,000 maiden claiming rivals. Her two tries on turf both are very good, she’s showing a bullet work since her last, and it appears all systems are go. If there’s one minor concern, it’s that Trevor McCarthy, who rode her in her first three, jumps ship for #4 Hendaya (6-1), whose lone turf try — around two turns and in allowance company — was just so-so. Makes you wonder if he knows something we don’t.


This Maryland-bred allowance feels like a race where a lot of horses will be vying to be on the lead or just off it in the early going. That would lead you to look for a horse who might take back and make a run, and that points you to #6 Cannon’s Roar (9-2). The formful Dale Capuano trainee has done nothing but run good races when on the turf at route distances, and two back he used that come-from-behind style to mow ’em all down in a starter/optional claiming race. He was a good third last out at this level in a sprint and should get the setup he wants to get the job done in here. The most likely of the horses to be up close early to survive to the end is #7 Street Copper (5-2), who’s run off four straight good races since returning from more than a year on the sidelines.


  • RACE 4
    • 6-3-9-7
    • SCR: 
  • RACE 5
    • 6-4-8-2
    • SCR: 
  • RACE 6
    • 6-7-2-4
    • SCR: 



The odds tell you that #5 Friend Me Charlie (8-5) is a pretty strong favorite, and off an easy debut win, she is our top selection in this Maryland-bred allowance. But we’re not totally sold on her debut; none of the five to run back has won, and four of those dropped in class and still met defeat. So consider this a pretty lukewarm endorsement in a race in which all of the runners have holes.


In his first try for new trainer Damon Dilodovico, #5 Ten Eyck (5-1) paid immediate dividends, rallying from sixth to win by nearly a length. This is a runner who has plenty of better efforts in his background, too, and we think he rates a solid chance to double up in this spot. The favorite in this one is the Jane Cibelli-trained #11 Mr. Discretionary (3-1), who’s been facing better but will have to work out a trip from the far outside.


The hard-hitting #6 High Roller (5-2), who’s demonstrated the ability to lead, stalk, or close and has four wins on the season is our top choice in this open $8,000 claimer. One horse worth a look at a bit of a price is #5 Spartiatis (6-1). Trainer Damon Dilodovico claimed him two back at this level, but his first try in the new barn was a trainwreck; after breaking perhaps a beat slow, he was sawed off by rivals coming across him and had to be checked completely out of contention. His day was pretty much done at that point, but it’s interesting to see the trainer moving him back up the ladder in his second start off a six-month break.


Two-year-old maiden claimers complete the card, and we’ll see if #2 Imagine Winning (5-2) can do just that in her career debut for trainer Claudio Gonzalez. The Imagining filly has been working well enough, though her only sibling to race at two was winless in nine tries. The favorite, #1 Kobe (9-5), ran OK in her debut against New York-bred maidens at Saratoga in July, but two follow-up tries — one on turf, one in the mud — have been less promising. We’ll also give another shot to #6 Five Star Perfect (8-1), who showed little when making his debut in a turf race. He’ll try the dirt for the first time today and is showing three decent works in the interim.


  • RACE 7 
    • 5-3-2-1
    • SCR:
  • RACE 8
    • 5-11-1-9
    • SCR: 
  • RACE 9
    • 6-5-3-4
    • SCR: 
  • RACE 10
    • 2-1-6-3
    • SCR:


        About The Author

        Frank Vespe

        Frank Vespe, the founder and publisher of The Racing Biz, has owned, bought, sold, claimed, written, and talked about horses, in varying combinations, for a decade. Email him at [email protected] or follow him on twitter @TheRacingBiz.

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