LAUREL PARK PICKS AND PONDERINGS: december 16, 2022
In which we pick the races from Laurel Park each day…
Post time: 12:25 p.m.
Carryovers: Rainbow Jackpot Pick 6 — $966 Super High 5 — $0 Late Pick 5 — $0
Check out our other handicapping here!
RACE 1: MAIDEN CLAIMING $45,000, 2-YEAR-OLDS, FILLIES, 6 FURLONGS
There’s nine races to begin the racing week. #4 Grace and Charm (8-5) ran a big race last out, battling with the very determined Fast Tracked in the lane and losing to her by 1 3/4 lengths. That rival came back to finish second in the Maryland Juvenile Filly Stakes two weeks ago. #7 Donna’s Courage (6-1) led most of the way last out and got nailed on the wire. It was a marked improvement from her debut, where she showed little after racing wide. She was tiring late in that race and doesn’t get the benefit of a cutback in distance, but if she takes another step forward third time out she should still be in good shape. #5 Mama’s Eyes (4-1), a full sister to Maryland-bred champion Street Lute, made decent ground to get third on debut at Timonium. The winner, Bosserati, was third in the Maryland Million Lassie, while runner-up Lady Serenity and sixth-place finisher Mo Co Gold came back to break their maidens next out.
RACE 2: CLAIMING $20,000, 2-YEAR-OLDS, FILLIES, 6 FURLONGS
More 2-year-olds round out the early double. My top two picks both have a victory against winners. #8 Dont Tell Deren (7-2) won at this level last out, rating wide off the pace and kicking clear late. She ran three dull races earlier in the year when she couldn’t get to the early lead, but both times she’s been forwardly-placed, she’s won. #1 Cocktail Dreaming (4-1) was full out to win against slightly lesser gems last out after rating off the pace. She ran a brisnet figure of 82 that day, the second time in her career that she’s run in the 80s. She’s racing first off the claim by David Howard. #5 Never Done (8-1) has gotten better with each start this year and showed heart in a stretch duel last out, getting the win after the original victress was disqualified.
- Trainer Michael Pino reaches 2,000 winsTrainer Michael Pino went 2-for-2 today at Parx Racing to reach 2,000 wins in a career which has seen his runners earn over $43 million.
RACE 3: STARTER OPTIONAL CLAIMING $30,000, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 1 MILE
As is common in these parts, Jamie Ness has a formidable coupled entry. #1 Guillaume (5-2) gets the nod as the better stablemate for me. He just missed his career-best figure last out, running a 93 after winning a prolonged early duel at Parx. That was the first time he’s been on the lead in a while, but usually he’s forwardly-placed, sitting just off the early leaders. He’s run in the 90s three times in his last five races. #5 Forloveofcountry (4-1) lasted on the front end two starts back going 1 1/16 miles despite a wide trip, but faded when stretched out a bit last out. This distance should be perfect for him. #3 Golden Gulley (8-1) has been in rapidly improving form this year, with career-best figures in three of his last four starts. He overcame a wide trip to beat a similar field last out, and keeps Jeiron Barbosa in the saddle after a winning ride.
RACE 4: STARTER OPTIONAL CLAIMING $12,500, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, FILLIES AND MARES, 6 FURLONGS
#2 Funnybet (5-2) is one of two in the race trained by Norman Cash; this one is racing first off the claim by him. Last out at Churchill Downs, she wasn’t able to chase down a leader who raced on the pace, but she managed to outkick the rest and got second. She’s shown flashes of brilliance, with several figures in the mid/upper-80s, but has a hard time putting a string of good races together. We’ll see which version of her shows up. #1 Stay Out (3-1) coasted to a gate-to-wire win last out and should show speed from the rail. #6 Devilish Affair (6-1), the other Cash trainee, has chased similar types in her last few starts but has been picking up checks in the process. She ran some great figures earlier in the meet and will try to rebound off her last race, where she sat the trip off the pace but came up empty.
RACE 5: MAIDEN CLAIMING $12,500, 3, 4, AND 5-YEAR-OLDS, 6 FURLONGS
#7 Wired In (5-1) dropped to this level for the first time second off the layoff last out, and ran on well late to get fourth with a career-best figure of 65. In a race with a lot of speed-and-fade types, he should be able to hang around and make some noise late. #4 Notimelikepresent (6-1) raced wide on the pace last out and stopped badly, but ran solid figures against better in his prior races. Three races ago, he held on for third with a career-best 74 after rating off the pace, but tends to run worse when he sits on the lead. #10 Robbedinthebahamas (6-1) has been consistent all year and will also take advantage of a fast early pace. Look for him to rate near the pace on the outside. The post isn’t great for a horse with his style, but he could be tough if he can work out a more ground-saving trip.
RACE 6: ALLOWANCE (N/W1X), 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 1 1/16 MILES
Three horses in here exit the same $40,000 n/w2L claiming race on November 24, including #6 Mose Perfect (9-2). In his two-turn dirt debut, he overcame a wide trip to win with a career-best 87. Runner-up Baton came back to win an allowance optional claiming race on Tuesday at Parx. This one gets has already beaten some of today’s rivals and looks as if he has room to improve. #5 Nostalgic Run (9-2) improved sharply second off the layoff last out, although he wasn’t able to hold on late, he still ran a career-best figure of 90. He’s almost certainly going to set the early pace, and with further improvement he could prove tough to catch. #3 Our Lucky Man (9-2) has hit the board in his last three starts at this condition. He has a bit of seconditis in him, with five runner-up finishes to contrast with just one victory. He looks like a better candidate to grab a slice of the exotics.
- Which horses had the best post-CT Classic careers?Art Collector’s win in Saturday’s Grade 1 Pegasus got us wondering: which winners of the Charles Town Classic had the best careers after their Classic win?
RACE 7: STARTER OPTIONAL CLAIMING $30,000, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, FILLIES AND MARES, 5 1/2 FURLONGS
#2 Hydra (5-2) has had very in-and-out form since returning from a long layoff in late October. Sandwiched in between two poor races was an impressive allowance optional claiming victory at Finger Lakes where she ran a 93. However, it’s not a very consistent field in general, and her ceiling is higher than those of the others. #8 Behind the Couch (7-2) is the most consistent member of the group, having run between a 75 and a 78 in her last four dirt races. In her last start at this level, she rated off the pace while wide and held on for third. If she works out a similar trip here, which is more likely than not, it’s a safe bet she can hang on for the exotics. #5 My Lovely Girl (8-1) has run some of her best races lately, with an 80 and a 77 within her last three outings. She has decent late pace figures and will likely slide through the cracks in the bettings. Charles Town-based Alisson Nunez comes in to ride this West Virginia invader.
RACE 8: ALLOWANCE (N/W1X), 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, FILLIES AND MARES, MD-BRED/SIRED, 7 FURLONGS
Mike Trombetta has them surrounded in here; my top two picks are both trained by him. #8 Who Knows What (5-1) ran a big race in an open first-level allowance last out. She dueled with favored R B’s Star on the lead, dispatched that rival on the turn, and held clear late to win by 1 1/2 lengths, with a career-top figure of 86. That race represents drastic improvement from earlier in the fall, when she was rounding into form after a three-month layoff. #3 Combat Queen (3-1) outfinished Who Knows What in her most recent start, a gate-to-wire win where she ran an 86 for the second straight race. She runs her best figures on this track and can go to the lead or rate just off it. #9 My Flicker (5-2) hasn’t missed the exacta in her last five starts and gets her class test here for Anthony Farrior after facing softer.
RACE 9: CLAIMING $25,000, (CONDITIONED), 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 1 MILE
#2 Union Fleet (3-1) broke slowly last out and was taken out of his element. Usually, he sits near the pace, but he was forced to come well off the pace. He managed to get second in an impressive effort, running at least an 86 for the second consecutive race. #1 Speak Unity (5-2) got caught wide last out and flattened out, but still ran an 85, his best figure in months. He should get a more ground-saving trip here. #3 Shoot Themessenger (9-2) drops in class after facing a tough second-level allowance field two races back and beat several similar fields at Delaware Park earlier this year.