LAUREL PARK PICKS AND PONDERINGS: december 17, 2022
In which we pick the races from Laurel Park each day…
Post time: 12:25 p.m.
Carryovers: Rainbow Jackpot Pick 6 — $1,932 Super High 5 — $3,273 Late Pick 5 — $0
Check out our other handicapping here!
RACE 1: STARTER OPTIONAL CLAIMING $12,500, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, FILLIES AND MARES, 1 1/16 MILES
Another nine-race card today, and I have a feeling it will start with some chalk. #3 R Tenderoni (8-5) has run a brisnet figure no worse than 78 in each of her last three starts, a mark that her rivals have trouble hitting at all. She could find herself on the lead in a race without much early speed, and she can coast along from there. #1 Misty Taste (7-2) won against similar over the summer at Monmouth Park impressively, but has struggled in her last two starts, though her mid-70s figures are comparable with these. She’s faded after getting caught wide in those last two and should improve with a better trip. #5 Gold Time Vixen (8-1) goes first off the claim for Mario Serey. She was second at this level at Delaware Park recently and will try to rebound off a dull race going short last out.
RACE 2: CLAIMING $40,000 (CONDITIONED), 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 1 MILE
#1 Rustys Gfivefifty (9-5) led most of the way last out against these types before losing a stretch battle by a head. He ran an 85 that day, right in his usual range. He was pressured most of the way in that race but held on; we’ll see if he has to duel again or if he can shake free of his rivals. Most of #3 Never Change’s (4-1) case is built on his race two starts back. He crushed the field on the lead at Keeneland that day, running a 95, far and away a career-best number. He was flat at Churchill Downs last out, and now goes first off the claim by Jamie Ness. With Rustys Gifivefifty to his, there’s no guarantee he’ll get another front-running trip like he did at Keeneland that day, but that flash of brilliance and Ness first off the claim makes him intriguing. #5 Ghostlighter (8-1) was third in his last two starts at this level and has the best late pace figures in the race. He looks like the value play of the field.
- Several local runners among Barbara Fritchie nomsThe nominations for the Barbara Fritchie Stakes upcoming at Laurel Park include several local runners, among them last year’s show horse Fille d’Esprit.
RACE 3: CLAIMING $40,000, 2-YEAR-OLDS, 6 FURLONGS
#1 The Colora Kid (3-1) has slowly improved his figure in his last few starts, running back-to-back 73s against better winners. He’s drawn a good post here and should be able to get to the lead. #4 Thtwasthenthisisnw (4-1) shipped up to New York for the Sleepy Hollow Stakes last out and was well-beaten. He ran some improved figures in his prior starts at Delaware. #7 Noah Chance (5-1) broke his maiden in impressive gate-to-wire style at Pimlico two starts back. Last out, he tried to chase Post Time and flattened out badly. That maiden win was the only time he didn’t stop on the lead, and it was on a track that was favorable to speed. Still, if he gets to the front without too man challenges he could just keep going.
RACE 4: ALLOWANCE OPTIONAL CLAIMING (N/W1X), 2-YEAR-OLDS, 1 MILE
#2 Johnnyfrenchfri (5-1) has won his last two races in impressive gate-to-wire style. He’s getting a class test here, but he’s imrpvoed drastically recently and is proven at this distance. He’s going first off the claim by Mario Serey. #3 B West (3-1) towered over the field on paper last out and ran like it, crushing the field by 12 lengths. He got away with a slow pace that day, and he might not get such an easy setup here. Still, he’s run at least a 79 in his last two starts and has to be respected. #1 Quincy Cafe (6-1) has yet to cross the wire first, but was put up as the winner in July when he was disqualified out of a maiden special weight victory. Since that late July race, he’s competed just once, finishing up the track in the Laurel Futurity. He’s found easier waters here, and though he’s raced just once in recent months, he can surprise if he improves off that July race.
RACE 5: CLAIMING $5,000 (CONDITIONED), 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 6 FURLONGS
#2 Top Boss (5-1) benefited from getting the summer off, improving with each start since coming off a layoff in early October. He couldn’t get past the leader last out, but he hung on gamely in the stretch and finished second while much more forwardly placed than in recent starts. #10 Nomo Ron (5-2) has run in the 80s in his last three starts but disappointed at 1-2 in his last start at this level. I don’t know if you’ll have to take that low a price here, but he’ll likely have to race wide on the pace and will be have to run his best race to take this one. #7 Fort Fortitude (6-1) closed well for third last out. He’s run at least a 72 in his last two starts, representing improvement from dull starts earlier in the year, and will try to keep it going third off the layoff.
RACE 6: STARTER OPTIONAL CLAIMING $30,000, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 5 1/2 FURLONGS
#5 Sevier (7-2) went off favored at this level last out, and made mild ground late to lose a photo for second. The winner, Savoy, came back to win a second-level allowance optional claiming race two Saturdays ago. Usually, Sevier is near the lead early on, but rated off the pace in that last start. With so much speed in here, he might be better off doing that again. #4 Tommy the Torch (8-1) came from just off the pace last out at Penn National and was defeated by Heir Port, who’s won three of his last four starts. This one should also sit a good stalking trip. #3 Rad Paisley (5-1) goes first off the claim by Anthony Farrior. He has the best early pace figures in the race, so if anyone can sneak away to the early lead, it’ll be him.
- 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: ALLOWANCE OPTIONAL CLAIMING (N/W1X), 2-YEAR-OLDS, FILLIES, 5 1/2 FURLONGS
#4 Mo Co Gold’s (15-1) lines are obscured somewhat by her last start. She caused a ruckus in the gate last out, and when the running started she was left behind and lost all chance. If you take that line out, she’s in drastically improving form and has sat the trip to win two straight races on this track. With a lot of speed in this race, she could once again get a good setup and spring the surprise. #3 Chickieness (9-5) set a hot pace in the Maryland Juvenile Filly Stakes last out, but held well to finish fourth. She’s been on the pace in her last few starts but won the Maryland Million Lassie coming from off of it. #2 Dissolute (2-1) stopped on the lead in the Smart Halo Stakes after an impressive maiden win at Delaware Park and will try for a rebound here.
RACE 8: ALLOWANCE OPTIONAL CLAIMING (N/W3X), 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 1 MILE
#8 Monday Morning Qb (2-1) shipped up to Aqueduct last out and ran a big race. He was pressed on the lead throughout but held on in well, only overtaken by Milton the Monster, a three-time winner this year who’s run some big figures. He’s been in improved form in his last few starts and should be tough on the lead once again. #2 Zabracadabra (3-1) and #1 Vance Scholars (5-2) both exit the same race at this level on November 24. The former battled on the pace throughout and held second, outfinishing his sparring partner by nine lengths. Vance Scholars, meanwhile, is usually forwardly placed, but was lethargic early on that day and closed for third. I’ve chased Vance Scholars enough times this year, so I’ll give Zabracadabra the nod at (hopefully) a better price.
RACE 9: CLAIMING $25,000 (CONDITIONED), 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 6 FURLONGS
#3 Kozy’s WIldcat (2-1) won at this level two starts back, then came back to win for a lower tag next out in similar determined front-running fashion. His main speed threat, Center Mid Maddie, has inferior pace figures and is drawn further to the outside. #2 Bombolini (9-2) has run a lifetime-top of 92 in back-to-back races and should sit the trip off the pace on the rail. #1A Berks (9-5) won three of five earlier in the year, but has struggled against better in his last few. We’ll see how he takes to this condition.