LAUREL PARK PICKS AND PONDERINGS: january 8, 2023
In which we pick the races from Laurel Park each day…
Post time: 12:25 p.m.
Carryovers: Rainbow Jackpot Pick 6 — $2,081 Super High 5 — $547 Late Pick 5 — $0
Check out our other handicapping here!
RACE 1: MAIDEN CLAIMING $12,500, 3-YEAR-OLDS, 1 1/16 MILES
After showing little in his first two starts, #3 Whiskey Mischief (5-2) stepped it up in a big way last out. He showed speed, opened up a long lead, and held on for a clear-cut second. He’s stretching out again from a mile here, but he stretched out quite a bit in that race and handled it well, so I don’t think today’s distance will be a big problem. #2 Uncaptured Storm (8-5) has had some time off since a dismal effort on November 20, but hit the board twice against better at Delaware Park in his prior races. He’s had some good workouts at Fair Hill for Mark Shuman and will be tough if he rebounds to his best form. #1 Fowl Nation (6-1) keeps Jaime Rodriguez, who has been off to a hot start at the meet, and has run brisnet figures in the 50s each time out. A little improvement makes him a longshot contender.
RACE 2: CLAIMING $8,000, 4-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, FILLIES AND MARES, 1 1/16 MILES
#5 Viking Queen (3-1) stalked the pace and won going away against similar last out, and now goes first off the claim by Kieron Magee. She gets a rider switch to Jeiron Barbosa and should get a good trip on or near the pace. #1 Red Queen (8-5) declined to a 73 last out after a string of good figures, including some in the 80s, but it didn’t matter too much as she beat a conditioned field after rating off the pace. She should also sit a good trip. #4 World Party (5-2) has run in the 70s in her last four starts, and will try to improve off a flat performance against slightly better at Parx last out.
- 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 $12,500, 3-YEAR-OLDS, FILLIES, 6 FURLONGS
#7 Alas and Alack (7-2) was scratched out of a tougher spot a few days ago to race here. She made a strong move up the inside to win at this level last out. She has the best late pace figures in the field and should make her presence felt late. #2 Happy Clouds (7-2) gets class relief after showing little against much better at Turfway Park. She ran a big race two races back at Churchill Downs despite a wide trip. She ran a 74 that day; a duplication of that race likely wins this. #3 Baylis Street (5-1) was clear in the stretch last out but got reeled in by Alas and Alack. That day, she prompted the pace on the outside and may have pulled clear too soon. Her best figure, a 76 earned two starts back, came when she sat a little further off the lead.
RACE 4: CLAIMING $5,000, 4-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 1 1/16 MILES
#1 Hot N Spicy Love (9-5) ran season’s-best figures in each of his last two starts, including a going-away win at Penn National last out. Penn-based Tyler Conner comes in for the mount. #7 Muchacho Macho (7-2) fended off a challenge on the lead at Parx last out to win his second straight race. The draw isn’t ideal, but there isn’t much speed to his inside, so Jaime Rodriguez should be able to clear to the front with his mount. #4 Poco Charlie (5-1) races for the first time since October 22 and makes his first local appearance for Claudio Gonzalez. He won twice against better open claimers last summer but struggled in his last few starts, which may have necessitated that time off. He had a solid four-furlong workout at Pimlico last week and should be ready to run a big race here.
RACE 5: CLAIMING $10,000 (CONDITIONED), 4-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 1 MILE
#8 Stimulus Maker (2-1) cleared his n/w2L condition last out with a determined victory where he led most of the way and pulled clear late. He ran an 83 in that race, the best last-out figure by 12 points. #4 Blameitonthefun (6-1) pressed the pace and stopped badly in his most recent, but won back-to-back races prior to that, including a career-best 80 two races ago. He had to overcome a slow pace and battle in the stretch for the victory. #7 Branco Maria (9-2) closed well from off a slow pace two starts back at Delaware, but flattened out after a wide trip last out. Prior to that last race, he had run at least a 75 four times in his last five starts.
RACE 6: MAIDEN CLAIMING $45,000, 4 AND 5-YEAR-OLDS, 7 FURLONGS
#9 Union League (7-2) made his first start off a ten-week break last out and ran an 84, in what was also his dirt debut. He made an early move and held on till late. Cutting back from a mile might help. #4 Celtic Cousen (3-1) was crushed at the windows last out after running an 89 on debut, but lost by a head after a wide trip. Even though it’s a class drop on paper, this is probably a tougher field than what he saw last time. Nonetheless, you’ll get a much better price here if you still believe. #3 Your Analysis (5-2) exits the same race as Union League. He improved sharply to an 88 while stretching out to a mile from 5 1/2 furlongs. Jevian Toledo gets the mount for the first time, and he should work out another good stalking trip with this Brittany Russell trainee.
- 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 $20,000, 4-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 1 1/16 MILES
#2 Forloveofcountry (3-1) set the pace and faded late at 1 1/8 miles last out, but held sway at this distance two races back. With the rail draw and early speed, he could prove tough to catch. #5 Thorny Tale (5-2) has won three in a row, including an impressive win at this level last out for the Ness/Rodriguez combo. He got a fast pace to run into last time, so if Forloveofcountry gets pace pressure, it’ll play into this one’s favor. #6 Bobby G (8-1) drops in class after a strong third-place finish against second-level allowance foes last Saturday. He’d also take advantage of a fast early pace.
RACE 8: CLAIMING $12,500, 3-YEAR-OLDS, 6 FURLONGS
#7 Blame the Bourbon (5-2) improved sharply second off the layoff last out. He pressed the pace and held on for second, earning a 69, not far off his lifetime top of 74 earned on debut. #4 Dart (3-1) was outkicked by the victorious Read the Specs last out, but he made good ground late and got up for second in his first start at this level. #2 Minxhippsdontleye (4-1) broke his maiden in gate-to-wire fashion last out despite not changing leads. It was a big step forward from his first two starts, where he didn’t show much early speed.