LAUREL PARK PICKS AND PONDERINGS: JAN. 27, 2022

Air Token
Air Token won the Maryland Million Sprint. Photo Allison Janezic.

In which we pick the races from Laurel Park each day…

Post time: 12:10 p.m.

Carryovers: Rainbow Jackpot Pick 6 — $8,324 Super High 5 — $1,365 Late Pick 5 — $0

Check out our other handicapping here!

RACE 1: STARTER OPTIONAL CLAIMING $25,000, 4-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 6 FURLONGS

5-6-4-1

#5 John the Bear (7/2) made his first start off the claim for Claudio Gonzalez a winning one, rating just off the early pace and drawing off easily in the stretch. This will be his third start off a three-month layoff; could improve further. #6 Magic Mule (8/5) has been close in recent races at this level and has tremendous brisnet figures, having earned at least an 88 in back-to-back races. This is an easier starter optional claiming field than he’s used to. #4 He’s Orientate (5/1) certainly outran his odds two back, when he finished second at this level at 111/1. He raced wide against better last out and flattened out, but will be tough if he can return to form.

RACE 2: STARTER OPTIONAL CLAIMING $16,000, 4-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 1 1/16 MILES

1-2-6-5

I’m hoping for a Claudio Gonzalez early double with my picks. #1 Bakeneko (7/2) is one of two in here who has not lost against winners. He matched his career-top dirt figure last out when he ran a 78 last out in a sharp one-mile win. His best-ever race came around two turns on grass, which is encouraging for this kind of spot. #2 Badger Tooth (6/1) is coming off a maiden-breaking win at Charles Town last out, an impressive effort where he ran on well late. #6 Narmer (5/2) drops from the n/w1x level at Penn National, where he closed well and got third last out. Should rate the trip and has great late pace figures.

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RACE 3: MAIDEN CLAIMING $40,000, 4 AND 5-YEAR-OLDS, FILLIES AND MARES, 6 FURLONGS

6-1-3-7

#6 Utterly Courageous (7/5) was no match for the winner on debut, but closed well in the stretch and just missed second. Jevian Toledo gets aboard her for the first time. #1 Summer Odds (8/1) made a sharp middle move last out, but flattened out. She still earned a career-top brisnet figure with a 71, and in fact has improved in every start. Looks like the value play of the race. #3 Polish Cookie (9/2) pretty consistently runs in the upper 60s, which isn’t good enough to contend with the top two if they run their races. However, she remains a viable exotics candidate.

RACE 4: STARTER ALLOWANCE $5,000, 4-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 5 1/2 FURLONGS

2-1-4-7

The popular #1 Beverly Park (1/2) dominated the starter allowance ranks in the midwest last year, with nine wins from ten starts. He made a local appearance a winning one two back, handily taking a starter allowance race at Charles Town, but struggled at Turfway Park last out after battling on the lead. He’s racing off just a four-day break, so while he’s going to be tough if his best self shows up, I think he’s worth a shot again. I’ll take that shot with #2 Sneakiness (4/1) who has been in improving form lately and beat similar types both here and at Parx last fall. He’ll press Beverly Park on his outside and will take advantage if the pace melts down. #4 Kingston Pike (5/1) struggled behind Beverly Park last out but runs in the 80s consistently on this track, and should improve with his return here.

RACE 5: ALLOWANCE OPTIONAL CLAIMING (N/W1X), 3-YEAR-OLDS, FILLIES, 6 FURLONGS

6-5-4-1

#6 She is Wisky (7/2) improved sharply last out to break her maiden with a figure of 85. She hasn’t raced since early November, and has had only one recent workout, but at least gets an relatively easy field off the layoff. #5 Sweet Gracie (6/1) has shown speed and flattened out late in her recent starts, but she secured third at big odds in the Maryland Juvenile Fillies Championship despite lugging in. She could hang around for a piece again here. #4 Redwhitentacos (15/1) made a bold move to the lead and just got up last out with a career-top mark of 74. Certainly the value play of the field.

RACE 6: CLAIMING $12,500, 4-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 6 FURLONGS

5-4-2-6

#5 Fast Cash (2/1) has run career-top marks in his last two races, including an impressive going-away win against better last out. He’ll do his running from the back of the pack. #4 Combination (5/2) ships from Charles Town for the dream team of Jeff Runco and Arnaldo Bocachica. His figures have declined a bit since joining the Runco barn, but part of that might be a function of racing around the bullring track. He’s had some time off since a subpar effort on December 2, and should be ready to fire a big one here. Should press the pace. #2 Big Tall Dawg (10/1) drops from the n/w1x level and looks for a rebound off an effort where he didn’t show any of his usual early speed.

RACE 7: STARTER ALLOWANCE $5,000, 4-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, FILLIES AND MARES, 1 MILE

3-5-2-4

#3 Mi Cleopatra and I (6/5) has won four in a row, including a win against a similar field on January 16. She’s been in very consistent form lately, having run an 81 in each of her last three starts. #5 Sammie Sunshine (2/1) was on the pace throughout last out, but got caught late by Mi Cleopatra and I. She’s going to be on the early lead once again. #2 Postino’s Secret (10/1) rallied well against Jersey-breds on several occasions last summer and should close for a piece here.

RACE 8: ALLOWANCE (N/W1X), 4-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, FILLIES AND MARES, 1 1/16 MILES

7-3-4-2

Godolphin and Bill Mott don’t send too many horses down here, but they dropped #7 Frost Point (3/5) in here, and she looks like much the best. She ran three figures in a row of at least 84 in Kentucky last fall, including two near-misses against better n/w1x types. It’s her race to lose. #3 Runaway Monet (9/2) chased a loose leader last out and had no chance of catching her, but outkicked the rest of them and got up for second. She’s been getting better with every dirt start since she made her 3-year-old debut last August. This is the first start of her 4-year-old campaign. #4 Award Wanted (5/1) impressively beat a Maryland-bred field at this level two back, but could not settle last out and was well-beaten. Should improve if her issues are straightened out, and you’ll get a better price, with that race likely scaring off some customers.

RACE 9: CLAIMING $10,000 (N/W2L), 4-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 1 1/16 MILES

1-2-4-6

#1 Ice Rain (7/2) had wide trips in his last two races, and was well-beaten in both of those races. Takes a drop in class and gets a good draw here. #2 Goldie’s Boy (5/2) is also dropping in class. He chased the pace last out and flattened out, but held on to lose a photo for show with a very sharp figure of 72. #4 Speightster Red (3/1) consistently runs in the 70s and showed speed in his last two-turn start.

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