LAUREL PARK PICKS AND PONDERINGS: October 22, 2022
In which we pick the races from Laurel Park each day…
Post time: 11:30 a.m.
Carryovers: Rainbow Jackpot Pick 6 — $1,780 Super High 5 — $680 Late Pick 5 — $0
Check out our other handicapping here!
RACE 1: MARYLAND MILLION TURF STARTER HANDICAP, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, MD-BRED/SIRED, 1 1/16 MILES (GRASS)
Today’s the big day! 12 races, immaculate weather, huge fields, and great racing are on tap as we celebrate Maryland at the 37th Jim McKay Maryland Million! Note that the starter races are open to both Maryland-bred and Maryland-sired horses, unlike the stakes, which are only for Maryland-sired horses unless there are a sufficient number of scratches. #6 Pretty Good Year (4-1) has run brisnet figures in the 80s consistently all year long, He’s going first off the claim by Michael Pino, who will saddle Fortheluvofbourbon later today. He won impressively on dirt at Parx last out, and was a fast-closing third against these types two races back. He’s a son of Northview stallion Great Notion. #3 Beach Traffic (15-1) is not Maryland-sired, but is Maryland-bred. His best figures are a tad below those of Pretty Good Year, but he’s been slowly improving all year long and should at least close for the exotics. He also has some early speed in a race that doesn’t have much of it, which also plays to his favor. #12 Samui Sunset (7-2) has much better figures than Beach Traffic, but doesn’t have as much early speed and was flat after a wide trip at Pimlico in his last grass start. Granted, he broke from post 12 at Colonial Downs three starts back and worked out a trip for second. If he can work out another one here, he’s a contender, but it’s a big if. He’s by the late Seville.
RACE 2: MARYLAND MILLION STARTER HANDICAP, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, MD-BRED/SIRED, 7 FURLONGS
Right after he won his last start, I thought that #6 The Wolfman (7-2) would likely be one of the favorites here, and it looks like I’ll be proven correct. This son of the late Bandbox won five times this year, including a dominant gate-to-wire win last out in which he matched his career-best figure of 92. There’s a lot of speed in here, but he’s shown that he can rate and still win. That came in handy two back at Pimlico, when he overcame a wide trip on a rail-favoring track to win in a dead heat. #7 Tauber (8-1) hasn’t missed the board in four starts on grass this year and wouldn’t have been out of place in the Turf Sprint if he had gotten in (being a son of Bodemeister, he’d have gotten stuck on the also-eligible list). However, he’s shown aptitude on dirt as well. having won going away with a figure of 83 in his most recent dirt start last November. He fits well with these and could go off at a decent price. #12 Laddie Liam (4-1), who is by Northview stallion Golden Lad, cuts back around one turn and has run no worse than an 81 in his last four starts. He was defeated by Assembly Point last out, who is in white-hot form; prior to that, he crushed a conditioned claiming field at Penn National. This one should be forwardly placed.
- Armando R over the top to win Small StakesOnetime claimer Armando R rallied outside to prevail in Saturday’s Richard W. Small Stakes at Laurel Park for his second straight stakes win.
RACE 3: MARYLAND MILLION TURF SPRINT, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, MD-SIRED, 5 1/2 FURLONGS (GRASS)
With eight horses in the main body, this race has the best chance of a Maryland-bred getting in. Regardless of who draws in or not, #5 Grateful Bred (3-5) will be tough to beat. He won this race as the 1-2 favorite and hasn’t run a bad race this year, although he hasn’t won. This son of Great Notion lost the Ben’s Cat Stakes by a neck three starts back, and was narrowly beaten in three other stakes races between here and Colonial. Last out, he was fourth after a rough break. He’s taking a drop in class and will be tough to beat if he runs his race. #9 Can the Queen (5-2), the first also-eligible, is a two-time stakes winner this year, with both of her victories coming at Pimlico. She’s won three times on this track and ra n a game second in the All Brandy Stakes around two turns three races back. She’ll be on or near the pace. #10 Justwaveandsmile (3-1) just got up over Grateful Bred to win the Ben’s Cat and now gets some class relief after two flat starts against better. He adores this track, having won six times on it from seven races.
RACE 4: MARYLAND MILLION NURSERY, 2-YEAR-OLDS, MD-SIRED, 6 FURLONGS
#9 Lost Weekend (3-1) is another son of Great Notion trained by Dale Capuano, who is the all-time leading trainer in Maryland history and a man who could have a big day. This gelding crushed the field by 5 1/2 lengths on debut at Timonium, then ran a game second while improving his figure five points in the First State Dash Stakes at Delaware Park. He’ll be tough if he keeps improving. #2 Bo’s Bourbon (10-1), by Country Life stallion Divining Rod, was flat behind Lost Weekend in his first start, but improved sharply to an 84 in a splashtastic maiden win last out. He was claimed out of that race by Kieron Magee, who puts leading rider Jeiron Barbosa in the saddle. Look for this one to show speed from the inside. #11 Wildhunch (4-1) went gate-to-wire to break his maiden third time out at Delaware last out. In the race prior, he lost by a nose to Midnight Trouble, who came back to win next out and is stakes-placed twice. Another son of Great Notion, this one is a homebred for David Bloom.
RACE 5: MARYLAND MILLION DISTAFF STARTER HANDICAP, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, FILLIES AND MARES, MD-BRED/SIRED, 7 FURLONGS
#3 Mavilus (4-1) has been very consistent this year, with figures between 81 and 86 in each of her last five starts. She likes to stalk the pace and grind in the lane, a strategy that has earned her plenty of checks and will earn her another one if she runs her race. She’s a daughter of Orientate. #1 Targe (9-2) pulled a 27-1 upset in a n/w2x allowance optional claiming race last out, for her second straight win. She struggled earlier in the year but has found her best self as of late. #6 Betcha by Golly (6-1) did nothing last out while racing wide but won impressively on the lead two back and has run no worse than a 77 in her last five races. Will Humphrey gets the call for the first time since July and will have her perched on the pace.
RACE 6: MARYLAND MILLION LADIES, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, FILLIES AND MARES, MD-SIRED, 1 1/8 MILES (GRASS)
#1 My Thoughts (6-1), a daughter of Editorial, has improved with every start this year. She sat the trip and won the Fort Indiantown Gap Stakes at Penn National in a stirring stretch duel. She ran an 87 that day, a career-best figure and the fourth straight race in which she’s improved her figure. She should get a great trip just off the lead under Ricardo Chiappe. #2 Maldives Model (5-2), who is by Petionville, won the Lyphard Stakes at Penn National in June with a giant figure of 104. That’s a pretty big outlier from the rest of her form, but she’s usually good for a mark in the 80s, not to mention she should eb forwardly placed. #7 Coconut Cake (2-1) makes her first start since July 16, when she outran her odds in the Big Dreyfus Stakes and got fourth at 27-1. This daughter of Bandbox closed well in her two route tries this year and will be right there at the end.
- Nick Sanna’s long journey to the winner’s circleLong before he owned horses, Nick Sanna had a job sweeping up after the races at Delaware Park. It’s been quite a journey.
RACE 7: MARYLAND MILLION DISTAFF, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, FILLIES AND MARES, MD-SIRED, 7 FURLONGS
The late pick 5 starts here. You can throw #6 Wicked Hot (5-1)’s last race right out. The daughter of Mosler broke from post seven in a one-mile dirt race at Saratoga, which is a recipe for disaster. She raced wide throughout on a wet track and was well-beaten. Prior to that, she was in quickly improving form since returning from a playoff in June, including a game race a the Spa two races back where she lost after a duel and ran a big figure of 94. #2 Malibu Beauty (5-2) was pre-entered in three spots and ultimately settled on this one. A daughter of the late Buffum, she won two stakes races at Delaware Park going away and nearly missed in two other recent races. She does her best running on the lead, so Jaime Rodriguez will likely be aggressive with her from the gate. She was second in this race last year. #1 Fille d’Esprit (8-5), a daughter of Great Notion, won the MATCH Series championship in the FIlly & Mare Sprint division. She’s won three stakes races this year, and was second behind Frank’s Rockette two starts back in the Misty Bennett Pink Ribbon Stakes. She was flat at Parx last out, but should improve with a fast track and a return to Laurel, where she’s 8-for-15.
RACE 8: MARYLAND MILLION LASSIE, 2-YEAR-OLDS, FILLIES, MD-SIRED, 6 FURLONGS
#10 Malibu Moonshine (5-2) came from off the pace to break her maiden going away on debut at Pimlico last out, with an impressive figure of 82. Based in New York, this daughter of Anchor & Hope stallion Bourbon Courage shipped down here for her debut, and lured Dylan Davis to come down for the ride. He’s not here today, but Daniel Centeno, a very good rider in his own right, has the mount, and looks to guide this filly to another swooping win. #11 Blome (12-1), who’s by Murmur Farm stallion Blofeld, was sharp in victory two starts back at Delaware and was a decent fourth after a wide trip against stakes company last out. She’s run the 70s twice and looms as an interesting longshot possibility with Jevian Toledo aboard. #6 Chickieness (2-1), also a Blofeld offspring, is stakes-placed twice for Jamie Ness and ran back-to-back figures of 81 in two stakes tries at Delaware. She’s been working well for this race and should be ready to roll.
RACE 9: MARYLAND MILLION TURF, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, MD-SIRED, 1 1/8 MILES (GRASS)
#7 Midnight Hauler (7-2), a Pennsylvania-bred son of Seville, hasn’t run worse than a 91 in three grass races this year. He won the Lebanon Valley Stakes in powerful fashion, then chased next-out stakes winner Buy Land and See and finished second in the Alphabet Soup Handicap last out. There isn’t much speed in this race, but he should be somewhat close to the pace so he’ll at least get first jump on the deep closers. #1 Street Copper (6-1), one of those aforementioned closers, lost last year’s Turf in an exciting blanket finish. He hasn’t won in four starts this year, but the son of Legacy stallion Street Magician has run competitive figures and should close late for a slice. #11 Wicked Prankster (8-1) has dangerous early speed, having won a n/w1x race in gate-to-wire fashion on Sunday. He could find himself very loose on the lead.
RACE 10: MARYLAND MILLION SPRINT, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, MD-SIRED, 6 FURLONGS
All eyes will be on #11 Fortheluvofbourbon (8-5) in this one, and justifiably so. The Pennsylvania-bred son of Bourbon Courage has been on a tear this year, with five consecutive wins, three of them in stakes. He’s defeated Beren twice this year, who has won multiple stakes races in his own right. He didn’t do much in this race last year after a bad start, but he’s in much better form this year and with a clean break should get a great trip. Speaking of last year, #12 Air Token (8-1), by Golden Lad, won this race last year with a strong late move and is looking to become the first repeat winner of the Sprint. He won impressively here to start his 2022 season but has yet to find the winner’s circle since. Nonetheless, he has a strong closing kick and will take advantage of a fast pace. The same is true of #13 Elusive Agent (15-1), who closed from the clouds to win a Maryland-bred allowance race last out, matching his career-best figure of 88. The son of Blofeld is lightly-raced and has lots of potential to shake things up at a price.
RACE 11: MARYLAND MILLION CLASSIC, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, MD-SIRED, 1 1/8 MILES
It’s time for the big one! #7 Vance Scholars (9-2) has done nothing but good things on dirt this year. He won the Bald Eagle Derby on this track in his 3-year-old debut in August, and was most recently third in the Japan Turf Cup in a gigantic effort. He raced on a very destructive fast pace, but held on gamely and was beaten just a length. The son of Holy Boss will encounter pace pressure once again here, but he’s shown the resilience needed to withstand it. #9 Ournationonparade (5-2), by Cal Nation, goes first off the claim by Jamie Ness. He’s won three in a row at Churchill Downs and Indianapolis, and handled two turns with ease at the latter track with a smashing 9 3/4-length win. He’s should rate just off the leaders and pounce on the turn. #3 Double Crown (9-2), one of two in here for Lynn Cash, is a son of Bourbon Courage. The highlights of his resume have come in sprints, but he was an impressive winner at 1 1/16 miles a few starts back at Colonial and was a solid second under impossible circumstances in the Polynesian Stakes last out. He should get a pace to run into, one that will likely be set in part by his stablemate, 2020 Classic champion Monday Morning Qb.
RACE 12: MARYLAND MILLION TURF DISTAFF STARTER HANDICAP, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, FILLIES AND MARES, 1 1/16 MILES (GRASS)
Time to wrap up another Jim McKay Maryland Million. #3 Downtown Katie (7-2), by Seville, has spent her summer at Delaware, largely with success. Although she’s won just once at the meet, she’s hit the board four times and has slowly improved over the course of the season. Jaime Rodriguez won with her two starts back and now gets back aboard. #7 Brushing (6-1), a progeny of Hunters Bay, made her first start off a nearly year-long layoff last out at Parx. Bernard Dunham entered her for a $16,000 tag and rolled the dice that no one would claim her. The strategy paid off, as she won going away at five furlongs and now gets in easier. That race set her up well for this spot. #8 Foxtrot Seville (15-1), also a daughter of Seville, came from the clouds to win a n/w2L race last out. She has no early speed at all but should be rolling late at a price.
- Laurel Park picks and ponderings: November 27, 2022
- Laurel Park picks and ponderings: November 26, 2022
- Charles Town picks and horses to watch: November 25
- Laurel Park picks and ponderings: November 25, 2022
- Laurel Park picks and ponderings: November 24, 2022
- Laurel Park picks and ponderings: November 21, 2022