LAUREL PARK PICKS AND PONDERINGS: APR. 16, 2022
In which we pick the races from Laurel Park each day…
Post time: 12:40 p.m.
Carryovers: Rainbow Jackpot Pick 6 — $685 Super High 5 — $0 Late Pick 5 — $0
Check out our other handicapping here!
RACE 1: CLAIMING $5,000 (N/W2L), 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 1 MILE
It’s Tesio day! There’s 10 races, including four stakes races, on today’s program. #7 Captain Cardo (8/5) has stepped up his game big-time in his last few starts, including a career-best brisnet figure of 78 earned in his last race. He rated off the pace and fought hard in the stretch for the win. #3 Dejohn (2/1) has consistently sharp figures as of late, and has hit the board in his last three races against similar without a win. A good candidate to round out the exacta, but a bit of a tough win proposition. #6 Loulovestheriver (5/1) broke his maiden three races back at Parx and should close strongly late.
RACE 2: MAIDEN SPECIAL WEIGHT, 3-YEAR-OLDS, 5 1/2 FURLONGS
All eyes will be on the excellently named #2 Sugar Gray Leonard (3/5), a second-time starter for Brittany Russell. He broke slowly and rushed up to the lead in his first start at Aqueduct, before fading in the stretch. He held on to finish third in that race, and now comes home to find a very inexperienced field. As long as he runs anything like he did in his debut, he should have these at his mercy. #5 Run Away Empire (9/2) has been working sharply, with a few bullet drills in his lines. However, Hugh McMahon usually isn’t that great with first-time starters. Going to wait and see with this one. #4 King Seraf (8/1) also has some decent workouts and could make some waves on debut at a decent price.
- Deciding Vote is “aye” for MATCH Series titleDeciding Vote earned a narrow win in Monday’s Sal Debunda PTHA President’s Cup at Parx Racing to secure the 2022 MATCH Series title.
RACE 3: STARTER OPTIONAL CLAIMING $25,000, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 5 1/2 FURLONGS (GRASS)
It looks as if this’ll be the first grass race of the year at Laurel Park. #8 Flank Speed (4/1) consistently ran in the 70s on the grass last year, and has a race this calendar year under his belt, albeit one on January 4. He’s been working well getting ready for his grass return and has lots of early speed. #4 Bardolino (8/1) has been plenty busy this year, with six races already under his belt. He’s won on grass before and will likely press the pace. #7 Smitten Enough (5/1) cleared his n/w2L condition last out with a pace-stalking win over this course. This’ll be his first outing since that October 3 race.
RACE 4: ALLOWANCE (N/W1X), 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, MD-BRED, 6 FURLONGS
#7 Bear Force Won (2/1) has faced some tough open n/w1x fields in his last few races, and got up to win at that level last out. He surged late and beat Nashvegas, a hard-knocking sort who won three in a row last fall, by a nose. He’s run at least a 90 in each of his last three races. #3 Coastal Mission (3/1) has been getting better with every start, peaking at a 90 with a n/w1x win against fellow 3-year-olds last out. He’s been stakes-placed three times this year. #1A Royal Thunder (7/2) looks like the much stronger half of the Hugh McMahon entry, with very sharp early speed and consistent form as of late. He’s overcome wide posts to earn big figures in his last two starts and shouldn’t have much trouble with post seven here.
RACE 5: MAIDEN SPECIAL WEIGHT, 3, 4, AND 5-YEAR-OLDS, FILLIES AND MARES, 1 MILE (GRASS)
#11 I’m Blushing (9/5) overcame a poor start and a lot of traffic to close for fourth in her grass debut at Fair Grounds last out. Should easily handle these with a cleaner journey. #4 Charmed Way (7/2) made her grass debut in the “flamingo race” at Gulfstream Park. While racing on the first turn, one of her rivals bore out in an attempt to avoid a goose and a flamingo on the track, and ended up carrying Charmed Way several paths out. She recovered nicely and finished third. There are no flamingos around here, so barring some other unforeseen bizarre incident, she should work out a much smoother trip. #10 Joyful Applause (5/1) has been working sharply for her debut and ships from Kentucky for Helen Pitts. This one looks bred for grass. Watching the board with her.
RACE 6: WEBER CITY MISS STAKES, 3-YEAR-OLDS, FILLIES, 1 1/16 MILES
The stakes action kicks off here, with a field of six 3-year-old fillies. This race is named after the Maryland-bred winner of the 1980 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes. #5 Luna Belle (3/5) hopes to follow in her footsteps and clinch a spot in this year’s Black-Eyed Susan with a victory here. She’s won four stakes races in a row by open lengths, with figures comparable to some of the country’s top 3-year-old fillies. This will be her two-turn test; she’s never gone beyond a mile before. #2 Khuluq (9/2) broke her maiden in professional style last out at Aqueduct and ships down here for Chad Brown. She’s raced four times at a one-turn mile, but has also never gone two turns. Should rate another great trip. Feargal Lynch gets the mount for the first time. #3 Chardonnay (7/2) showed speed in each of her last three races at Fair Grounds, and went gate-to-wire to break her maiden two races back. She finished second to Malibu Marie last out, who extended her winning streak to four in a row with a victory at Keeneland last Friday.
- BackTracks: The kingly Henry of NavarreIn today’s BackTracks, New Jersey-bred Henry of Navarre found Hall of Fame success on the racetrack and later played a more martial role.
RACE 7: FRANK Y. WHITELEY STAKES, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 7 FURLONGS
Eight sprinters will line up in this contest named after the Hall of Fame trainer. #1 Sir Alfred James (3/1) narrowly missed in the Fishtown Stakes at Parx behind Hollywood Jet two races back, just missing his lifetime-top mark with a 105. He surged to win a stakes-quality allowance last out over stakes-winning Rock On Luke. Should put in a strong rally late. John McKee comes in for the mount. #3 Borracho (4/1) is in similarly sharp form, with gate-to-wire wins against allowance company here in his last two starts. He has the best early pace figures in the race by a decent margin, so he should be able to take the early lead without too much trouble. #4 Youngest of Five (7/2) has finished in the superfecta in his last four races against stakes company and should battle on for a piece here.
RACE 8: HEAVENLY CAUSE STAKES, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, FILLIES AND MARES, 1 MILE
This race is named after the Maryland-bred 1980 champion 2-year-old filly. #6 Primacy (8/1) is another Chad Brown shipper. She’s won two in a row at Aqueduct, having overcome a wide trip to win a n/w2x race last out. It looks as if she’s rounding into her best form. I don’t know if you’ll get 8/1 because of the Brown factor, but she looks very interesting. #10 Fille d’Esprit (7/2) won the Conniver Stakes in explosive fashion last out. She loves Laurel Park and has a strong kick, but has never raced beyond seven furlongs. Then again, I doubt she would’ve lost last time if the race was an eighth of a mile longer. #2 Miss Leslie (4/1) won two stakes in a row here to wrap up her 2021 campaign and looks for a rebound off a disappointing third-place finish in the Nellie Morse Stakes last out.
RACE 9: FEDERICO TESIO STAKES, 3-YEAR-OLDS, 1 1/8 MILES
The local road to the Preakness Stakes wraps up here. Three horses in here are Triple Crown nominated, and as such would take advantage of a “win and you’re in” berth to the Preakness if they win this race. They’re my top three picks in this race. #2 Shake Em Loose (3/1) is a two-time stakes winner, having proven himself around two turns with a victory in the Private Terms Stakes last out from off the pace. He’s one of two in here to have run in the 90s in each of his last two starts. He shouldn’t have any problem with this distance and will make for a great story if he gets to the Preakness. #7 Smarten Up (9/2) is the other one in here with back-to-back figures in the 90s, having earned both of them at Parx. He made decent ground last out when closing into a very slow second quarter, and will look for a more honest setup here. #9 Secret Alliance (10/1) broke his maiden going six furlongs at Parx last out and now stretches out around two turns for the first time. He battled on the lead and pulled clear to win in an impressive performance. We’ll see if he can stretch out his speed.
RACE 10: CLAIMING $16,000 (N/W2L), 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, FILLIES AND MARES, 7 FURLONGS
#4 Startwithabang (2/1) got up to break her maiden at Charles Town last out, just missing her career-best mark with a 75. Anthony Farrior and Arnaldo Bocachica are always a dangerous trainer/jockey combo. #7 Kinky Frolic (5/1) has had some up-and-down form lately, but at her best, she has great closing speed and can rally for a piece. #3 Chica Rabiosa (5/2) crossed the wire first by open lengths last out, but was disqualified for bumping. She came from off the pace in that race, a change of pace from her usual front-running style. We’ll see which tactics are employed here.