Laurel Park picks and ponderings December 26, 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 — $8,752 Super High 5 — $889 Late Pick 5 — $0
RACE 1: MAIDEN CLAIMING $25,000, 2-YEAR-OLDS, 5 1/2 FURLONGS
- #5 Winston’s Gold (6/1) hasn’t been terribly visually impressive in either of his two starts, but he’s run brisnet figures in the mid-60s both times. Both those numbers should be good enough to beat this bunch. #3 Auction Kingdom (9/2) ran well in his lone try at this level two back, prompting the pace going a mile and hanging in there until late. That was going a mile; now he cuts back to 5 1/2 furlongs. That should be more to his liking. #4 Sloe Gin Biz (3/1) had a tough trip last out at Charles Town, getting caught wide throughout in a 4 1/2-furlong dash. He’s run plenty of competitive figures but is 0-for-7 lifetime. A bit wary of him at low odds.
RACE 2: GIN TALKING STAKES, 2-YEAR-OLDS, FILLIES, 7 FURLONGS
This is the first of six stakes races on the card. Gin Talking won seven stakes races at Laurel Park in her career, including the Maryland Million Lassie in 1999 and the now-defunct Maryland Million Oaks in 2000. It’s no fun picking chalk, but looking past #4 Buy the Best (1/2) would just be contrarian for contrarian’s sake. She won the Smart Halo Stakes impressively last out, running on powerfully in the stretch after rating off the pace. She’s run at least an 87 in each of her last three starts. No one else has run better than an 83 at any point in their lives. #2 Beneath the Stars (3/1) has speed and an inside draw, and cruised to a gate-to-wire win on this track last out. She’s taken big steps forward in her last two starts. #6 My Thoughts (8/1) surged and just missed in the Maryland Million Lassie two back, but was flat at Parx last out. The price will be right if you still believe.
RACE 3: HEFT STAKES, 2-YEAR-OLDS, 7 FURLONGS
- This race is named after the late owners Arnold and Sylvia Heft. In contrast to the Gin Talking, this race features a favorite who I think is beatable. #5 Life is Great (6/5) was impressive in victory at Aqueduct last out, and ran a big figure of 92. However, it was a big outlier from his prior races, and he took five tries to break his maiden. He can definitely win this race, but I don’t think I’d bet him to win at such a low number. The only really interesting thing about him is that Manny Franco is coming down just for this mount, with Aqueduct dark. I’ll take a shot with the Jersey-bred #3 Last Romance (4/1), as Cal Lynch will in all likelihood be looking for a sweep of the 2-year-old stakes. He made a strong move to the lead to break his maiden at Delaware Park on debut, and although he was second next out, he improved eleven points, to an 88. He’s had some good workouts since then and will certainly be the value play of the field. #7 Run to Daylight (3/1) was dominant at Charles Town earlier in the year, but was a non-factor in the James Lewis Stakes last out as the favorite. Looks for a rebound for the dream team of Jeff Runco and Arnaldo Bocachica.
RACE 4: CLAIMING $10,000 (CONDITIONED), 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 6 FURLONGS
- #4 San Antone (9/2) was impressive in victory at this level a few races back, earning a 90 while rating off the pace and drawing away late. He stepped up in class last out, and held on for third after making a mild bid. Drops back in class and goes second off the claim for Kieron Magee. #9 Where U B (4/1) exits the same race that San Antone won in late October. He had won three in a row prior to that race, and set the pace before getting overwhelmed by San Antone. He was claimed out of that race by Anthony Farrior, who’s given him some time off. Will be dangerous on the front end. #3 Little Bold Bandit (15/1) just cleared his n/w2L condition at Charles Town last out and has good stalking speed. Will be a great value for a Jerry Robb/Xavier Perez horse.
RACE 5 – WILLA ON THE MOVE STAKES, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, FILLIES AND MARES, 6 FURLONGS
- There were two stakes-winning Maryland-bred fillies named Willa On the Move: one in the late 1980s, the other in the early 2000s. We’ll consider this race a joint honor. If #3 Princess Kokachin (5/1) goes off anywhere near her morning line, it would be a belated Christmas present. She’s won five races in a row on this track, including a dominant 5 1/2-length win in the Politely Stakes. She’ll have to outrun Dontletsweetfoolya from her inside, but that rival’s early pace figures are not as good. #5 Call On Mischief (9/2) has been very consistent in the back half of the year, and has run in the 90s four times in her last five races. The one time she didn’t, she won the Hollywood Gaming Mahoning Distaff at Mahoning Valley. Kelly Breen has been tough with his shippers to Laurel this meet, with four wins from nine starters. #7 Miss Mosaic (9/2) ships from Kentucky and has been in good form against allowance types out there. She finished second behind Center Aisle last out, who came back to win the Sugar Swirl Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
- RACE 6: DAVE’S FRIEND STAKES, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 6 FURLONGS
- A field of eight lines up to contest this race named after the popular Maryland-bred sprinter of the early 1980s. The top three finishers in the Nov. 27 Howard and Sondra Bender Memorial Stakes are all back here. The winner of that race, #4 Whereshetoldmetogo (2/1), is the likely favorite, as he looks for his fifth stakes win of the year. However, I lean towards the runner-up, #6 Youngest of Five (4/1). He set the pace and hung in gamely in the stretch, and has been getting better with every race. The price will be right. #5 Newbomb (7/2) has been very impressive in allowance company in New York, but struggled in both his recent tries against stakes horses. In both those starts, he couldn’t get to the lead, but here, he should be at least near the lead. That’ll help the cause.
RACE 7: CAROUSEL STAKES, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, FILLIES AND MARES, 1 1/8 MILES
- Of the three morning line choices, only one of them has raced recently and is proven around two turns. That’s #8 Miss Leslie (3/1), who went off as the favorite in the Thirty Eight Go Go Stakes last out, and rallied to win by half a length. She’s in rapidly improving form and has a strong closing kick. #5 Lookin Dynamic (8/1) was a game second at 33/1 behind Miss Leslie last out, running a career-best mark of 94. She’s much better when she gets more distance. #2 Artful Splatter (6/1) couldn’t get to the lead in the Thirty Eight Go Go and showed little, but was game on the front end in the Twixt Stakes a few races back. Will likely get to the rail and the lead by the first turn.
- RACE 8: ROBERT MANFUSO STAKES, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 1 1/16 MILES
- Manfuso was a longtime owner and breeder who also owned a share of Pimlico and Laurel at one point. #1 Cordmaker (2/1) has won three stakes races against similar company this year, rating on or near the pace each time. He has great middle speed and should get a perfect trip just off the pace on the inside. #5 Shackqueenking (5/2) sat just off the pace in the Richard Small Stakes last out and ran on well, but got outkicked by Cordmaker. This one’s been improving with each start and should hang around late. #3 Everett’s Song (9/2) scratched out of an allowance optional claiming spot a few days ago to race here. He was an impressive winner of the Harrods Creek Stakes a few starts back at Churchill Downs, but didn’t do much in the CIty of Laurel Stakes last out. He’s lightly-raced and is in mostly improving form, so I’m interested in how he does stretching out around two turns for the first time.
- RACE 9: CLAIMING $12,500, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, FILLIES AND MARES, 5 1/2 FURLONGS
- #7 Tequila Fog (5/1) makes her first start since October 26, and hasn’t run worse than a 76 in any of her last three races. Recent workouts have been decent. Will be a threat if she can run her best race first off the layoff. #4 Joyful Noise (9/2) has flattened out in her last several starts but always rallies for a minor piece. This’ll be her eighteenth start of the year. #6 Movie Score (3/1) takes a drop in class and also races for the first time since October. She was consistently running in the upper-70s/low-80s before a disastrous last start. She requires a bit of a leap of faith at low odds, but is still worth a look. Her rider, Katie Hindt, is looking for her first career win.
LATEST IN HANDICAPPING
We provide full-card picks and analysis for this afternoon’s races at Laurel Park.
We provide picks and analysis for this evening’s card at Charles Town Races.
We provide full-card picks and analysis for this afternoon’s races at Laurel Park.