LAUREL PARK PICKS AND PONDERINGS: january 14, 2023
In which we pick the races from Laurel Park each day…
Post time: 12:25 p.m.
Carryovers: Rainbow Jackpot Pick 6 — $3,556 Super High 5 — $0 Late Pick 5 — $0
Check out our other handicapping here!
RACE 1: CLAIMING $40,000 (N/W3L), 4-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 1 1/16 MILES
One thing is for certain: barring something completely unexpected, #1 Auspicious Lad (6-1) will be on the early lead. He’s gone gate-to-wire to win two of his last three starts, and held second in the race in between after setting the early pace. He’ll have every opportunity to work out a similar trip for himself once again. #2 Down Cold (5-2) chased the pace and got up for second against similar in his last start, running a career-best brisnet figure of 90. I don’t think he’ll be able to catch Auspicious Lad, but at least he can outkick the others and secure a slice. #7 Trash Talkin Larry (7-2) raced wide throughout at this condition in his most recent, but held second behind Rustys Gfivefifty, a four-time winner last year who is entered later on the program and is better than anyone in here. Based on that last race, the outside draw shouldn’t slow this one down too much.
RACE 2: MAIDEN CLAIMING $12,500, 3-YEAR-OLDS, 6 FURLONGS
#4 Duke of Dooly (5-2) led most of the way going seven furlongs last out, but tired in the final eighth. Cutting back should help, as long as he can make the early lead. #2 Love Talk (9-2) ran a respectable 60 going six furlongs on debut, but declined in each of his next two starts when he stretched out in distance. The shorter distance could wake him up again. #1A Run Rocky Run (4-1) has had some solid six-furlong workouts in preparation for his debut, and is a half-brother of five winners, including six-figure earner Kadie’shorseplay.
- 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: STARTER OPTIONAL CLAIMING $30,000, 4-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 6 FURLONGS
My top three picks exit the same race on December 17. #4 Free Dancer (5-2) sat the trip off the pace and battled on in the stretch to get third in his most recent, his first start here in a while after spending most of the fall at Charles Town. With lots of speed in this one, he should get a similar trip. #5 Sevier (9-5) won that day, and lasted through fast fractions to hold on for the victory. He’s going third off the layoff for Jamie Ness and will need to show similar tenacity to win this. #6 Charge to Victory (3-1) finished fourth in that spot after rating off the pace. He’s going second off the layoff here and looks to improve.
RACE 4: CLAIMING $20,000, 3-YEAR-OLDS, 1 1/16 MILES
#3 Blown Save (5-2) ran a 76 and a 75 in his first two dirt starts, and drops in class after showing little against allowance foes last out. A similar performance to his prior two races wins this easily. #6 Stardust Ziggy (5-1) improved dramatically to break his maiden last out, running a 72 after sitting off the pace and drawing away. He looks to keep moving forward in his two-turn debut. #4 Noble Prendergast (12-1) came from way out of it to break his maiden in impressive fashion last out, albeit against a soft maiden claiming field. This will be his class test, and he may have to show more early speed to seriously contend.
RACE 5: MAIDEN CLAIMING $12,500, 4 AND 5-YEAR-OLDS, 1 MILE
#4 Coatandtierequired (4-1) has run respectable figures in his last two starts, earning a 69 and a 71. He tried to close off a slow pace last out and made a visually unimpressive rally, although it was against a better field. He’ll be especially potent with a pace to run into. #3 Maybe It’s Time (8-1) stopped badly after battling for the lead in a 1 1/8-mile contest last out, but held well after being pressed on the pace in the start prior. This distance should be more in his wheelhouse. #6 Wired In (7-2) has slowly improved in his last few starts, including a 68 when he closed for third in his most recent starts. However, his best races have come at six furlongs. We’ll see how he handles the extra distance; perhaps he’s matured enough that it won’t be a problem.
RACE 6: ALLOWANCE (N/W1X), 4-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, MD-BRED/SIRED, 1 1/16 MILES
#1 Rustys Gfivefifty (9-2), as noted above, capped off a busy season last year with a win against conditioned claiming company, with a career-best figure of 91. That day, he showed speed from the inside and withstood challenges to draw off late. He’ll have to do it against tougher rivals here, but he’ll have every chance to get a similar trip and he’s held his own at this level many times in the past. #3 Mose Perfect (5-2) has improved dramatically since stretching out to two turns, running an 87 and a 91 in his last two dirt starts while winning both from off the pace. He had to work a bit to get to the front in his most recent win, but once he struck the lead he pulled clear. #4 Rhumjar (6-1) ships up from Tampa Bay Downs for Jesse Cruz off a going-away win in his first start off a brief break. He’s run no worse than an 85 in his last three dirt races and should sit near the early pace.
- 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, 4-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 1 1/16 MILES
#7 Boss Logic (8-5) won by 8 1/2 lengths at this level in his most recent start, with a career-best figure of 97. He’s stretching back out around two turns, and while he lost in his most recent try at this distance, which came on this track in September, he did go gate-to-wire to win at a mile and 70 yards at Delaware Park in the start prior. #3 Benandjoe (5-2) has backed up after vying for the lead against better in his last two starts. There aren’t a lot of horses who can challenge him for the early lead, and he should at least be able to get to the rail while racing near the pace. #1 Torch of Truth (12-1) has been well-beaten in his three starts since coming back from a long layoff in early October, but has plenty of back-class and some good recent workouts. I’m willing to give him a look in a field like this.
RACE 8: ALLOWANCE OPTIONAL CLAIMING (N/W3X), 4-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 1 1/16 MILES
My top three picks exit the same race at this condition on December 17. #6 Iywaan (9-2) chased the pace, and although he couldn’t outkick Zabracadabra, who was well in front by the time they hit the top of the stretch. However, Iywaan held clear of the others, handling the class jump with ease to get second. He ran well despite a wide trip that day and could slide through the cracks in the betting. #3 Southern District (6-1) went on a three-race tear last spring, running no worse than a 96 in three straight wins, but struggled a bit in the summer and fall. He showed signs of life last out, in his first start off the claim by Norman Cash, when he rallied for third and earned a 93. He should be heard from late, and at the least can rally for a share at a decent price. #1 Vance Scholars (9-2) showed promise last summer and early fall when he won the Bald Eagle Derby and was stakes-placed three other times. However, he’s been disappointing in his last two starts, well-beaten in a pair of starts at this level. He’s shown a lot of heart in the past, but I can’t endorse him for much outside of an underneath spot.
RACE 9: CLAIMING $5,000, 4-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, FILLIES AND MARES, 6 FURLONGS
#3 Shackleford County (5-2) led late at this level last out, in her third race off the layoff, but lost a photo. Her figure of 84 was her best number in eight months. #6 Domineer (7-2) has tired after showing speed in her last two races. She’s cutting back from six furlongs and is the only one in the field to run at least a 75 in each of her two most recent starts. #2 Ever So d’Wild (6-1) was claimed out of her last start at Woodbine by Justin Nixon, and ran in the 70s consistently up there last year. She had a very wide trip last out but was still involved until late.