Laurel Park picks and ponderings December 16, 2021
Horses round the turn at Laurel Park. Photo: Allison Janezic.
In which we pick the races from Laurel Park each day…
Post time: 12:25 p.m.
Carryovers: Rainbow Jackpot Pick 6 — $3,776 Super High 5 — $0 Late Pick 5 — $0
RACE 1: CLAIMING $16,000 (CONDITIONED), 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 6 FURLONGS
- After an unplanned two-week break due to track issues, we’re back in action for a 9-race card. #1 Stay In (3/1) made a dramatic move from the back to clear his n/w2L condition going away last out. He’s run brisnet figures in the 80s in three of his last four races. Goes first off the claim for Dale Capuano, who is 21% with that angle. His stablemate, #2 Zen Pi (3/1) races third off the layoff and improved to an 85 last out with a fast-closing second. He’s had a few near-misses against these types. #7 Spotted Bull (7/2) has had some time off since a dull effort at Delaware Park last out. He won three of four races earlier in the year, never running worse than an 86 during any of those races. Should pack a strong late punch.
RACE 2: CLAIMING $5,000 (N/W2L), 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 1 MILE
#12 Olympic Gold (4/1) has raced on dirt just one time in his career, when he was a non-factor on debut at Tampa Bay Downs in March 2019. Recently, he’s enjoyed success on grass, including a maiden-breaking win last out and a strong come-from-behind win in his first start against winners last out. He has good closing speed that should play well over the one-turn mile. #13 El Equalizer (6/1), by contrast, is one of the main speed horses in the race and is fairly lightly-raced, having lost just twice against winners. He’ll have to be used early to get to the front, but will be tough if he can make it. #5 Daper’s Drink (6/1) goes second off the claim for Mario Serey and stretches out to a mile. He closed well against slightly better n/w2L types last out and has run in the 70s consistently at this distance.
RACE 3: MAIDEN CLAIMING $40,000, 3, 4, AND 5-YEAR-OLDS, 5 1/2 FURLONGS
- #8 Vanhoofer (5/1) drops for a tag for the first time and makes his first start since June 2. He broke slowly in his lone dirt race, but rallied nicely and got a figure of 72. Shouldn’t have much trouble with these if he can shake off the rust first time back. #1 Mailman’s a Flyer (8/5) ran a big race against straight maidens in his first start, closing to lose by less than a length despite an awkward break. His figure of 80 is the best last-out mark on dirt in the field by seven points. #3 Pickin Sea Glass (8/1) improved slightly when switched to the dirt last out, although it was not as visually impressive a performance. Racing on grass in his debut, he rallied from behind, while on dirt, he showed speed and faded. The early speed is promising.
RACE 4: STARTER OPTIONAL CLAIMING $25,000, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 7 FURLONGS
- Among the two Jamie Ness entries, I lean toward #2X This I’ll Defend (9/2), but both of them have a big chance. He has trouble leaving the gate, but recovered from a bad break last out to win going away against slightly lesser horses at Parx. Even if he breaks slowly again, his closing punch should be enough to carry the day. #10 Magic Mule (9/2) battled gamely on the lead last out but was outfought and lost by a head, with a very impressive figure of 88. He raced wide on the pace that time, and will likely get a similar trip here. #9 Rippolino (5/1) has rapidly moved through his conditions after starting off his career 0-for-14. In his first start at this level, he raced wide throughout but ran on well in the stretch and lost by less than a length. Profiles as one of the biggest closing threats in here, along with This Ill Defend.
RACE 5 – CLAIMING $5,000 (CONDITIONED), 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 7 FURLONGS
- A full field of fourteen begins today’s late pick 5, which has carryover potential. #10 Championship Alley (5/1) goes second off the layoff and is the main threat to go gate-to-wire here. He almost did so two races back, but got caught in the last few strides. He just missed last out after electing to sit just off the lead. Jockey Luis Garcia has enjoyed success from limited opportunities at the meet. #1 Cooke Brothers (6/1) finally broke through after a string of near-misses against similar in his most recent race, which was his first one off a four-month break. He outrallied Frankee Merch, who is also in this race, and got up to win with a very solid mark of 80. Should enjoy a good trip just off the leaders on the inside. His only impediment is possible traffic. #12 Point Driven (9/2) was visually unimpressive against a tougher field last out, but ran a very strong figure of 86 in the process. He’s been getting checks against better all year long and should enjoy the class relief.
- RACE 6: ALLOWANCE (N/W1X), 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, FILLIES AND MARES, MD-BRED, 5 1/2 FURLONGS
- #1 Mending (3/1) sat the trip and smashed a starter optional claiming field last out. She has a good middle kick that will suit a race like this well. She’ll likely rate just off the pace on the inside, and from there shouldn’t have too much trouble drawing off. #2 Hufflepuff (6/1) has been speed-and-fade in her last few races, but is likely to hold on in one of the exotic spots at a decent number. Should set things up well for Mending on the front end. #6 Mattitude (7/2) broke her maiden last out after a long stretch battle. She dueled with Maggie’s Bid throughout; those two finished more than six lengths clear of third place. This one should be a threat on the front end once again.
RACE 7: ALLOWANCE OPTIONAL CLAIMING (N/W3X), 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 1 MILE
- A stacked, stakes-quality allowance group lines up for today’s feature. #1 Galerio (5/2) won eight races last year, but has won just once from ten tries this year. Still, he’s hit the board in eight of those races, and has run at least a 95 in all but one of his starts this year. Most horses in this field struggle to hit that number at all. He ran on well in the Bender Stakes last out, but was outkicked by three horses better than anyone in this field. #7 Bustoff (5/1) couldn’t get to the lead last out in the Richard Small Stakes, and backed up badly as a result. When he gets to the lead, he’s much tougher, with back-to-back recent wins after being on or near the pace. #5 Everett’s Song (9/2) stretches out to a mile for the first time here. He won the Harrods Creek Stakes at Churchill Downs two races back, but was flat against stakes company here last out. Goes second off a brief break and will try to move forward. He ran a 93 in his stakes win, not far from the peak mark of Galerio. He’ll rate just off the lead and try to sustain his move down the long stretch.
- RACE 8: ALLOWANCE (N/W1X), 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 1 1/8 MILES
- #5 Big Venezuela (5/1) was on an extremely fast pace last out, but held on well and finished third. He’s hit the board in every dirt start this year and should be on or near the pace. His last race was around one turn, and it seems like he does better around two turns. #6 Up Against It (8/1) drew off impressively to beat Maryland-breds at this level last out. He doesn’t have much experience around two turns, but his running style tends to lend itself more to a shorter stretch run. #2 The Angry Man (7/2) gets his class test here after a game victory last out, his third win in his last four tries. He was challenged on the lead, pulled clear in the stretch, and held on to win in a blanket finish. Wouldn’t be surprised to see him on the lead early on from the inside.
- RACE 9: CLAIMING $8,000, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 1 1/16 MILES
- #4 My Good Man (2/1) was claimed out of his last start by Dale Capuano, who has been hitting at a very impressive 29% clip this season. This one fell too far back to seriously contend for the victory in his last few, but nonetheless has made up good ground. He’ll benefit from the class drop; will benefit further if he’s a bit closer to the pace than usual. #2 Laddie Liam (5/2) hasn’t done as well when further from the pace in his last two starts, but ran back-to-back marks in the 80s when he close to the lead earlier in the year. Steps up to open claimers and gets a jockey switch to Charlie Marquez. #5 Amen Corner (6/1) moves around two turns after several near-misses in sprints lately. We’ll see if he can stretch out his kick.
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