Laurel Park picks and ponderings September 18, 2021
Horses race down the stretch at Laurel Park. Photo: The Racing Biz.
In which we pick the races from Laurel Park each day…
Post time: 12:40 p.m.
Carryovers: Rainbow Jackpot Pick 6 — $0 Super High 5 — $0 Late Pick 5 — $0
RACE 1: MAIDEN CLAIMING $25,000, 3, 4, AND 5-YEAR-OLDS, FILLIES AND MARES, 5 1/2 FURLONGS (GRASS)
- Happy DeFrancis Dash day! Today’s card features 11 races, with four stakes headlined by the Dash. The opener features some maidens on the grass. #11 Discreet Dominique (5/1) showed speed and faded in her first two grass starts, and now looms as the primary speed in this one. She makes her first start since June 20 and races for Mary Eppler for the first time. Hopefully, the time off did her some good. #6 Look What I Found (9/2) has Kali Francois named to ride, in her first ride since last November. She’s picked a good one to return to the saddle with, as this filly is cutting back in distance after two near-misses at the Pennsylvania tracks. She has good tactical speed and should press Discreet Dominique from her inside. #4 Mexicali Rose (10/1) got caught up in a pace battle in her first grass start, but battled well and hung in there until the last eighth. Goes second off the claim for Carlos Mancilla and will also be a factor on the early pace.
RACE 2: STARTER OPTIONAL CLAIMING $32,000, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, FILLIES AND MARES, 6 FURLONGS
#5 Assume (7/2) made her first start off a long layoff back in early June at Parx. She chased the pace and ended up third, with a sharp brisnet figure of 81. She ran figures as high as 91 last year. Her two recent grass starts were not successful, but now she drops from stakes company and returns to her preferred surface. With some races under her belt, she should turn in a maximum effort. #2 Miss Tap Dance (5/2) races for the Jamie Ness/Ruben Silvera trainer/jockey combo, which is automatic at Parx and has also enjoyed success here. She’s got lots of early speed and is a threat to wire them. Cutting back around one turn should help. #1 Princess Kokachin (9/2) is the main threat to Miss Tap Dance on the early lead. She sat just off the pace and won going away at this level two races back. Might get a similar trip here.
RACE 3: MAIDEN CLAIMING $25,000, 2-YEAR-OLDS, FILLIES, 6 FURLONGS
- #4 Cost a Fortune (7/5) went off as the favorite against better on opening day, and faded after rating the pace. Gets lots of class relief here. She’s never run worse than a 66 in two races, one on dirt, one on grass. No one else in the field with experience has come close to that number. All she has to do is maintain her current form, and she’ll win easily. #5 Click to Confirm (3/1) is a Brittany Russell firster with a sharp, steady worktab. Jevian Toledo has been named to ride in Sheldon Russell’s absence. Interested to see what kind of money she takes. #9 Kobe’s Girl (10/1) goes first out for Lacey Gaudet, who is a very solid 18% with her debuters. She put in some decent workouts at Delaware Park, and now comes here for her debut. Could be the value play of the race.
RACE 4: WEATHERVANE STAKES, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, FILLIES AND MARES, MD-BRED, 6 FURLONGS
- The first stakes race of the day is named after a Maryland-bred filly who won fourteen stakes races between 1997 and 1998, including the Maryland Million Distaff in 1998. #4 Never Enough Time (5/2) made her first start of the year in May, off a six-month break, and since then has been getting better with every race. She battled and got the win in an allowance optional claiming race at Colonial Downs two races back, then just missed in the Seeking the Pearl Stakes last out. If she had won by a neck, rather than lost by a neck, she’d be a lot lower price. As things stand, she’s got great middle speed and looms a threat to upset the heavily favored #2 Hello Beautiful (2/5). She started her career a perfect 7-for-7, but was a non-factor in the Barbara Fritchie Stakes in February. Since that race, she’s competed just twice, losing the Shine Again Stakes in a dramatic battle with Chub Wagon, then winning the Alma North Stakes with minimal effort. Toledo has the ride for the first time. She’s a fun horse to root for, and will be tough to beat, but there’s no way she’s worth 2/5 in this spot. #5 Coconut Cake (12/1) won four of five on this track last year, but got mired in a sophomore slump to start her 4-year-old season. Makes her first start since March 13, and has the potential to fire a big one first off the bench.
RACE 5 – STARTER OPTIONAL CLAIMING $32,000, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 1 1/8 MILES (GRASS)
- #5 Gator Bite (7/2) has run in the 80s in his last two races, and is the only member of the field who can consistently run in that range. He just missed third against New York-bred stakes company at Saratoga last out, and should relish the class relief here. #11 This Ill Defend (7/2) goes first off the claim for Jamie Ness and returns to grass, a surface he’s shown some aptitude over before. In his most recent try over this surface, at Belmont Park last October, he set the early pace and backed up. Will he try to wire them again here? There’s not a ton of speed in here, so it’s not far-fetched. The biggest threat tot hose plans is the #3 Lightning Rod (4/1). He broke his maiden in gate-to-wire style last out, albeit against a softer field, and will likely try to wire them again.
RACE 6- TWIXT STAKES, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, FILLIES AND MARES, 1 MILE
- A field of nine will square off in this one-mile stakes, named after the Maryland-bred mare who won multiple graded stakes in the mid-1970s. #7 Dreamalildreamofu (2/1) ships here for Brad Cox, who is not sending anyone else today. She started her 2021 season in impressive style, winning the Latonia Stakes and placing in two others. During that streak, she never ran a figure lower than 89. She showed little in the Groupie Doll Stakes at Ellis Park last out, and looks for a rebound effort. It’s never easy to take low odds on a horse off a race like that, but she had some traffic trouble, has been working well since then, and has prior races that would easily beat these. #2 Josie (3/1) comes here for Steve Asmussen. She won two in a row impressively earlier in the year, including a win in the Iowa Distaff at Prairie Meadows. In the Groupie Doll, she broke from post ten in a race that began on the turn, and subsequently had no chance. With an honest setup and a better post, she’s got a big chance. #6 Mrs. Orb (9/2) has hit the board in 20 of 26 lifetime and had a grinding closing style that should play well with Laurel’s long stretch run.
RACE 7- MIADEN SPECIAL WEIGHT, 2-YEAR-OLDS, 1 MILE (GRASS)
- Mike Smith, who hasn’t ridden at Laurel since 2007, is named on three mounts today. His horse here has to draw in off the also-eligible list, but if he does, he’s very live. #13 Tiger to Remember (5/2) goes second out for Mike Stidham, and closed for second after getting stuck behind an impossible pace scenario. With a more honest trip, he’s going to be tough to beat. #7 Wonder Water (9/2) has been working well for Arnaud Delacour getting ready for his debut. Charlie Marquez gets the call. Interested to see what kind of action he takes. #9 Jardani (2/1) improved sharply second time out when switched to the grass and stretched out to a mile. I would be more enthusiastic if he showed more punch in the stretch, but at least he didn’t back up and held fourth.
- RACE 8, DEFRANCIS DASH, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 6 FURLONGS
- Brittany Russell is still looking for her first graded stakes win, but she’s in prime position to get it with #5 Wondrwherecraigis (8/5). He was an impressive winner of the Tale of the Cat Stakes last out at Saratoga, drawing off from the field after getting pressed on the pace. On the surface, it’s a step up in class, but this is a pretty similar field to the one he saw last out. He’s a perfect 2-for-2 over this track, and is 4-for-4 overall in Maryland. His biggest competition will come from #2 Jalen Journey (7/5), who destroyed the field in a n/w3x allowance optional claiming race last out, running a career-best figure of 105. He’s been rounding back into top form since returning from Dubai in the spring, and will be tough if he keeps moving forward. #1 Kalu (9/2) has won four of his last five, with all of his wins coming on the pace. He’s drawn an ideal post position from which to flaunt his speed, but will be facing tougher horses than he’s ever seen before.
- RACE 9, POLYNESIAN STAKES, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 1 MILE
- Polynesian won the Preakness Stakes in 1945 and was voted the champion sprinter of 1947. #7 Tappin Cat (10/1) has won two in a row in very impressive gate-to-wire fashion. He earned a 102 last out when crushing an allowance optional claiming field at Delaware. This is a stiff class test, but he’s got plenty of early speed and might hit the front and forget to stop. #5 Phat Man (9/5) made a strong move to lose a photo for second in the Iselin Stakes last out, despite a wide trip. He’s got excellent late pace figures and should make his presence felt late. #6 Roadster (5/2) has a ton of backclass; he won the Santa Anita Derby in 2019. However, he has not found the winner’s circle since then, and has lost a string of high-profile races in the interim. This’ll be his first start since April 30, his second in 18 months, and his first since Mike Stidham. He’s steadily run figures in the mid-90s, which should be enough to at least be close in this race. That said, he’s bound to get overbet, and I don’t know if I can take low odds on a horse who’s barely raced in a while.
RACE 10, ALLOWANCE (N/W1X), 2-YEAR-OLDS, FILLIES, 6 FURLONGS
- #3 Maestria (9/5) was an $80,000 purchase at the Keeneland sale last September, and lived up to some of her expectations second out, when she earned an 88 in a very impressive maiden win at Delaware. She has good tactical speed and will be in prime position to inhale the field turning for home. #5 Luna Belle (2/1) sat a great trip rating off the leaders at Colonial last out, and won going away in her dirt debut. Her figure was six points below that of Maestria, but she had good late pace numbers and was really drawing away in the stretch. #4 She’s Mo Better (5/1) is a stablemate of Maestria, and also sat the trip and broke her maiden last out. Unlike the other two, she did so in her debut. An intriguing prospect for those who might want a higher price.
RACE 11, ALLOWANCE (N/W1X), 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, MD-BRED, 5 1/2 FURLONGS (GRASS)
- #1 Sky’s Not Falling (9/5) won at this level against open company in May, then tried stakes company three times in a row, with mixed results. He now takes a drop in class and should sit the trip. #2 Railmaster (7/2) has won his last two grass starts at Penn National, sitting just off the pace both times and drawing off. He’s improved in his last three grass races, peaking at an 86. #3 Sue Loves Barbados (5/1) got hung wide last out and made only mild ground, but has shown enough promise in his grass starts that he can round out the exotics at a decent number.
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