Laurel Park picks and ponderings September 28, 2019

by | Sep 28, 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: 12:25 p.m.

Carryovers: Rainbow Jackpot Pick 6 — $17,087; Super High 5 — $1,559; Late Pick 5 — $4,589

Notable: Trainer Kelly Rubley sent out hard-hitting 3-year-old Top Line Growth to an allowance win yesterday at Laurel, and today she’ll saddle the very promising sophomore filly Arrifana in race two, which could make for an exciting weekend for her barn… Trainer Jeremiah Englehart is 3-for-7 when sending horses to Laurel to make the first start of their career…



That was a huge effort last time out by #3 Tom Hagen (8-1), who survived a speed duel that knocked out two of his rivals — they finished last and next to last — and then had enough (barely) to hold off the cavalry. He was 13-1 that day and figures to be an enticing price here, as well. If he can repeat that kind of effort, he rates a big shot. The likely favorite in here is the comebacking #4 Strike Me Down (5-2), who’ll make his first start of ’19 here. THe Graham Motion-trained son of Tapit kept the right kind of company last year as a sophomore and has been gelded since. If he can come out running here, he’ll have an impact.

Selections: 3-2-4-6


Sometimes — often? — we overthink things in these races, but we’re going to avoid that in this case. #1 Arrifana (7-5) broke her maiden by 10 lengths locally, went up to Saratoga (which prompted rider Julian Pimentel to go along for the ride) and overcame early trouble to post a dominant score, and should make it three straight here in this second-level allowance. She’s one to keep an eye on.

Selections: 1-8-7-4


The Shug McGaughey-trained #7 Periodical (5-1) graduated last out here at Laurel and is our pick to make it two straight in what will be her third start of 2019 and third with Lasix. The top contender to foil us is #5 Lacustre (3-1), who’s been facing generally better company and will make her first start in the Cal Lynch barn, though the two outside horses — #11 Princesshope (7-2) and #12 Beale Street (6-1) also rate a look if they can work out trips.

Selections: 7-5-12-11



With the scratch of American Power, we’ll lean in the direction of another shipper in #5 Wonderful Light (5-2), a Michelle Nevin trainee who last out won an allowance at Saratoga. Two back he ran his record to 2-for-2 at Laurel Park in taking an allowance over the stakes winner Colonel Sharp. He’s been in the money in 10 of 11 career starts with five wins, and this looks like a good spot to add a stakes win to the resume. We’re also going to give a shot here to local hopeful #7 Taco Supream (10-1), who’s been in the exacta in five straight.

Selections: 5-7-10-6


The favorite, #5 Miss J McKay (9-5), looks tough in here after what would have been an impressive win in the Colleen Stakes at Monmouth Park. She came over and clobbered her rivals while going past them, which rightly caused her to be taken down, but make no mistake: that was a big effort in which she was clearly best. After breaking just a beat slower than the lead group, she rushed up, then settled in striking range, and readily took command. Don’t sleep on #9 Bella Aurora (4-1), either; the Mike Trombetta trainee broke her maiden here nicely two back and last out was a willing second against the boys at Colonial behind an overwhelming favorite.

Selections: 5-9-3-6


A horse who’s been moving in the right direction is #4 Stormologist (9-2), who’s been keeping pretty good company. Three back she ran a decent fourth in the Twixt behind the multiple graded winner Late Night Pow Wow and mutliple stakes winner Shimmering Aspen, and last time out she was a near-miss second behind the Grade 3-placed Cairenn at Colonial Downs. The favorite in here is likely to be #7 Saguaro Row (5-2) for trainer Mike Stidham; she’s been on the improve and two back was stakes-placed at Saratoga. And #9 Our Super Freak (7-2), who’s been stakes-placed a half-dozen times without breaking through, also figures to get play.

Selections: 4-2-9-7



The Barclay Tagg-trained #1 Highland Sky (9-2) enters this contest off a dominant score in an off-the-turf contest — a little confidence booster there — and has certainly kept the right kind of company. The Sky Mesa gelding had made seven straight starts in graded company prior to that last. With a more manageable group here and the added confidence of his last, he can get the money today… A horse who’s run a couple of good races at the trip is #8 O Dionysus (8-1), who didn’t run badly last out in the Find and three back was third in the 12-furlong Cape Henlopen…

Selections: 1-8-2-6


With this race and the Violet at Monmouth Park being run under identical conditions, there is some jockeying going on here as to who’ll end up where; four of these are entered in both spots. As of 10:20, though, all but #10 Theodora B are going postward at Laurel. This is a wide-open group, and we’ll take the Grade 3 winner #5 Colonia (9-2). The Graham Motion trainee didn’t run particularly well last time out in the PTHA President’s Cup at Parx, but that was her first start of the season. The closing sort will hope for a somewhat livelier pace today, and if she fires her best shot, she can be tough. Two others worthy of consideration are the Michael Dickinson trainee #1 Lift Up (4-1), who’s 6-for-8 at the trip, and Grade 3 winner #9 Notapradaprice (6-1), who just missed in a lengthy duel in the President’s Cup…

Selections: 5-1-9-4


Pretty good group linked up for this starter allowance, and let’s see if Mary Eppler’s #6 Truly Hot (7-2) can get the money. The five-year-old has run very competitively at this level all year, and we like the confidence that Eppler has displayed in her; though it didn’t work out, giving this runner a shot in the Timonium Distaff (she finished fifth after leading early) suggests she’s doing well and can give a good account of herself today…

Selections: 6-3-4-5


In two tries on the turf, #7 So Street (8-5) has run two bang-up races, winning an open allowance easily at Colonial and then finishing second in the Rosie’s Stakes. The winner of that event, Four Wheel Drive, is a son of American Pharoah trained by Wesley Ward, and he cost $825,000 at auction…

Selections: 7-4-1-5


Let’s give one more crack to #3 Call Me Jelly Roll (5-1). The sophomore filly (who qualifies for this never-won-three condition as a 3-year-old, even though she’s won five races) had won three straight prior to her last, and that might have been her best effort yet. Unprepared at the start, she was hung out wide on the turn in a four-furlong dash at Timonium on opening weekend — when speed was dominant — and still closed willingly to miss by a half-length. The added ground should help, and trainer Linda Albert, first time off the claim, shows good confidence in moving her up a notch on the claiming ladder… The Claudio Gonzalez-trained #9 It’s a Shaw Thing (8-1) offers good value and shows up in the right spot here in search of her third win…

Selections: 3-9-5-4


Trainer Jeremiah Englehart is 3-for-7 with horses making their career debuts at Laurel Park, and #1 Bubala (7-2), a $265,000 daughter of Candy Ride out of a Storm Cat mare, has a shot to make it an even 4-for-8. She’ll have to overcome, among others, the favorite in #2 Gracely (9-5), recently second against similar at Colonial, and the well-bred #8 Thrill of Giants (9-2) for Graham Motion…

Selections: 1-2-5-8


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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