LAUREL PARK PICKS AND PONDERINGS: JULY 16, 2022
In which we pick the races from Laurel Park each day…
Post time: 12:40 p.m.
Carryovers: Rainbow Jackpot Pick 6 — $2,996 Super High 5 — $24,421 Late Pick 5 — $11,911
Check out our other handicapping here!
RACE 1: CLAIMING $16,000 (N/W2L), 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, FILLIES AND MARES, 1 MILE (GRASS)
There’s 11 races on the Laurel card today, and it’s a stacked program. We’ve got Chub Wagon, Special Reserve, Wondrwherecraigis, plus a late pick 5 carryover! #6 Hot Choice (7-2) continues a drop down the class ladder after starting the grass season in allowance company. She tracked very slow paces in her last few tries and was visually unimpressive, but turned in some great late pace figures and consistently runs brisnet speed figures in the mid-70s. That should be good enough against these. #8 Princess Javonica (9-2) showed speed and stopped in her first start off the bench at Parx last out. She ran some good races over the winter at Tampa Bay Downs and might be able to get away on the lead here. #2 Bullets Lady (8-1) hung in well against these last out and has been getting better with every start.
RACE 2: MAIDEN SPECIAL WEIGHT, 3-YEAR-OLDS, 5 1/2 FURLONGS
This is a bit of a complicated maiden race. None of the horses with experience have run that well, but none of the first-timers look that appealing. I’ll lean towards #1 Mo Money Mo Honey (5-2), even though trainer Ben Feliciano is not great with debuters. This $14,000 son of Uncle Mo has had some sharp recent workouts, including a bullet workout on July 3. It looks like he’ll be a contender as long as he shows any ability at all. #2 He Rolls (2-1) has run his three best figures in his last three starts and will likely be the primary pacesetter. Of course, we don’t know what the debuters will do with the pace. This gelding has had nine tries to break his maiden, but it looks like he’s rounding into his best form. #6 Surprise Hello (8-1) has mostly horrid form but did show some signs of life two races ago, when he chased the pace and held on for second at Pimlico.
- From the Spa: August 14 Midlantic-breds in Saratoga stakes‘From the Spa’ keeps you up to speed with all the Midlantic-breds running in Saratoga stakes this summer.
RACE 3: MAIDEN CLAIMING $45,000, 3, 4, AND 5-YEAR-OLDS, 1 1/8 MILES (GRASS)
I was excited about #10 Amarillo (8-1) in his last start, as I thought he’d rebound from a dull Preakness day effort and went off at a great price. He improved off that race but showed little after getting into some traffic trouble. He ran a 73 in that race, which should be good enough to win this, and ran as high as an 85 over the winter at Gulfstream Park. #2 The Last Scip (9-2) closed sharply in his last two races, including a near-miss last out after a wide trip. Jorge Ruiz keeps the mount, finally giving this gelding some stability after a revolving door of riders in his last few starts. #6 General’s Duty (3-1) might’ve won his last start if he wasn’t forced to check multiple times late. As it were, he lost by less than a length. He looks primed for the longer distance and is a threat if he can stay out of traffic.
RACE 4: STARTER OPTIONAL CLAIMING $30,000, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 7 FURLONGS
#5 Picasso (8-5) was very impressive in his last start, running a career-best figure of 91 while drawing off against these types last out at Churchill Downs. Will Walden, the son of Belmont Stakes-winning trainer Elliott Walden, makes his Maryland debut in this race as the trainer. He also sends out #8 Soaring Bird (3-1), who sat a great trip and won easily at Churchill last out. He doesn’t have much early speed and will likely be rated in mid-pack by Jevian Toledo. #2 Honor the Fleet (7-2) was no match for the very impressive Silent Malice last out, and has been very consistent save for one effort two starts back when he uncharacteristically showed speed.
RACE 5: MAIDEN CLAIMING $20,000, 3, 4, AND 5-YEAR-OLDS, 1 1/16 MILES (GRASS)
#14 Frog Prince (8-1) ran a decent figure of 65 in his grass debut, rating on the rail and grinding along towards the inside. He’s stretching out around two turns for the first time and has room to improve at a decent price in a soft field. #9 Solomon’s Choice (9-5) got bumped around in his last grass start but recovered well and got up for fourth, with a figure of 72. As noted, it’s not a great field, and he’ll be tough if he can duplicate that race. #5 Oro Gris (4-1) made his last grass start in the same race as Solomon’s Choice, and closed well in the last eighth after being forced to steady. Gets a jockey switch to Horacio Karamanos and will try to avoid trouble again.
RACE 6: CLAIMING $10,000 (N/W2L), 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 6 FURLONGS
#2 Glorious Mahomes (6-1) has improved with every start, including a sharp maiden-breaking score at Charles Town last out. This’ll be his first start since late February, but he’s lightly-raced and will show speed from the inside. #10 Amicalola Falls (8-1) has been pretty consistent at this level, including three runner-up performances in his last three starts against these. He raced wide throughout but closed well in his last start, and will likely get a similar trip here. #1 No Money Down (6-1) gets back to dirt after a traffic-filled dirt try and also runs in the mid-70s consistently. He’ll rate towards the back early and try to make a big late move.
- Trevor McCarthy hoping for progress at racing “Super Bowl”Trevor and Katie (Davis) McCarthy, longtime Mid-Atlantic stalwarts, are focused on growing new roots, in New York, as Trevor rides his first Saratoga meet.
RACE 7: PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY STAKES, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 1 1/8 MILES (GRASS)
The first of four stakes races on the card, and the start of the big late pick 5, is named for the county in which the city of Laurel resides in. The track itself straddles Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties. This race is a rematch between the top two finishers of the June 14 Bensalem Match Stakes. #5 Beacon Hill (9-5) was the overwhelming odds-on choice in that race, but lost an exciting photo finish to #2 Eons (3-1), thanks to a fabulous ride from Trevor McCarthy. Trevor’s not here on Eons, however, so it’ll be tougher to hold off Beacon Hill. Eons has great late pace figures, but Beacon Hill has the better speed figures and should get the jump on him. #3 English Tavern (12-1) made a huge rally up the rail to win a second-level allowance optional claiming race on Black-Eyed Susan day and could close for a piece at big odds.
RACE 8: ALMA NORTH STAKES, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, FILLIES AND MARES, 6 FURLONGS
A field of five female sprinters will square off in this race, which is named for the top Maryland-bred mare of the early 1970s. #2 Fille d’Esprit (5-2) is a two-time stakes winner this year, having most recently won the Susquehanna Stakes at Penn National in impressive fashion. The runner-up in that race, Cinnabunny, came back to win the Dashing Beauty Stakes at Delaware Park last Saturday. This mare’s got great tactical speed and will sit the trip just off the pace. One of the likely early leaders is also the likely favorite, in #3 Chub Wagon (7-5). After a very impressive campaign last year, she didn’t return to the races this year until June 27, when she had to work hard to get up and win the Power by Far Stakes at Parx. Granted, it was her first start in nine months, but she probably shouldn’t have beaten that field a lot more easily than she did. She has a high ceiling and should improve second off the layoff, but Fille d’Esprit is a much more formidable opponent than she’s seen in a while. I think Fille d’Esprit will prove the better value. #5 Kaylasaurus (3-1) has won two stakes races on this track but her figures are generally a few lengths slower than those of Fille d’Esprit or Chub Wagon. She was third behind the former rival last out.
RACE 9: BIG DREYFUS STAKES, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, FILLIES AND MARES, 1 1/8 MILES (GRASS)
A very wide-open field of ten fillies and mares will go here. #8 Petricor (5-2) won her American debut in April at Keeneland, then improved to a 90 in a sharp fourth-place effort at Churchill Downs next out. She looks like she’s only getting better and could be on the cusp of a big race. #1 Alms (7-2) ran in the 90s very consistently earlier in the year but showed little off a slow pace in the Eatontown Stakes at Monmouth Park last out. She tends to run better when closer to the pace; we’ll see if Jevian Toledo takes that strategy to heart. #2 Deciding Vote (8-1) came from off the pace to win the Dahlia Stakes on this track in her last start on this track, defeating a few of these rivals in the process. She improved a few points in the Neshaminy Match Stakes next out at Parx but was no better than fourth. She has a great late kick and could get up at a good price.
RACE 10: DEFRANCIS DASH, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 6 FURLONGS
The two favorites in this race are both coming off long layoffs, which makes them lousy bets in my book. Special Reserve was a three-time stakes winner last year, including a victory in the Maryland Sprint, but hasn’t raced since a fourth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Wondrwherecraigis was on a hot streak at the end of last year and the start of this year, with four straight stakes wins. He might’ve been in a bit over his head in Dubai, as he was well-beaten in the Golden Shaheen, but now returns to a track where he’s won three times from four starts. They’re the two most talented horses in the race, but I’ll take a shot against them both. I can’t say #1 Royal Urn (20-1) is the most likely winner, but he’s a very interesting horse at a decent price. He won first off a long layoff in the John J. Reilly Handicap two starts back, upsetting fellow Jersey-bred stalwarts such as No Cents and Pickin’ Time. He ran a solid figure of 91 in that race, then tried to stretch out in the Sunny Ridge Handicap next out, without much success after a wide trip. Now, he’s going third off the layoff and cuts back to his preferred distance. He’s a great alternative if you don’t want to eat chalk. #5 Threes Over Deuces (10-1) also looms as an interesting value play. He’s hit the superfecta in his last three starts against stakes company, including a strong-closing fourth in the Chocolatetown Stakes at Penn National last out. #7 Beren (9-2) was second in that race. He has lots of speed and has finished second in his last three starts, including a game near-miss to the very tough Pennsylvania-bred Fortheluvofbourbon in his second debut. He’ll get pressed but should be able to get to the rail.
RACE 11: CLAIMING $10,000 (CONDITIONED), 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, FILLIES AND MARES, 5 1/2 FURLONGS
#7 Sommer Velvet (2-1) has run an 81 in back-to-back dirt starts, including a great stalking trip and a win last time on this surface. If she can clear from the outside post, she’ll be tough to reel in. #1 No More Mask (3-1) ran far and away a career-best figure last time on dirt, running an 82 in a gate-to-wire effort. I don’t know if she’ll be able to get the easy lead she did last time, but she’ll nonetheless be a factor on the pace. #3 Some Is Nine (8-1) fended off challenges on the lead to win at Delaware last out and could slide through the cracks in the betting.