LAUREL PARK PICKS AND PONDERINGS: January 27, 2023
In which we pick the races from Laurel Park each day…
Post time: 12:25 p.m.
Carryovers: Rainbow Jackpot Pick 6 — $3,891 Super High 5 — $0 Late Pick 5 — $0
Check out our other handicapping here!
RACE 1: MAIDEN SPECIAL WEIGHT, 4 AND 5-YEAR-OLDS, 7 FURLONGS
Two money-burners will take the bulk of the action in the Friday opener. #1 Rapper Zapper (2-1) has hit the board in his last three starts but hasn’t crossed the line first, going off at 13-10 in each of his last two starts. This is also his first start since November 18. #5 Celtic Cousen (7-5) has hit the board in each of his three races, and has also lost as the favorite in his most recent pair of performances. Rather than take one of them, I’ll go a bit outside the box and pick #2 Classic Legend (9-2). He made his first start off a 4 1/2-month layoff last out, and turned in a solid performance, rating near the pace while wide and holding fourth with a respectable brisnet figure of 76. He hasn’t raced since that November 20 performance, but has had some decent workouts since then and will certainly be the value play of this field.
RACE 2: CLAIMING $5,000 (CONDITIONED), 4-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, FILLIES AND MARES, 5 1/2 FURLONGS
No point in trying to beat the chalk here. #2 Miss Casey (1-2) was an impressive gate-to-wire winner in her most recent, and consistently runs figures 10-15 points better than the best of anyone else in here. If she went off at her morning-line price, that might be an overlay! #4 Calypso Ghost (20-1) tailed off towards the end of last year, but has enjoyed success over this track, with nine wins from 27 starts, and will be one of the main early speed threats. She’s had some time off since a disappointing effort against better, and if Miss Casey doesn’t fire for whatever reason, she could wire them at a price. #5 Shiny Penny (4-1) has been close in her last few starts at Charles Town, and made a nice move and held second in her last start on this track in late October.
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RACE 3: MAIDEN CLAIMING $20,000, 3-YEAR-OLDS, 6 FURLONGS
#5 Best Choice Baby (3-1) has slowly improved in his last few starts, running a career-best 64 when third last out. The winner, Stardust Ziggy came back to win a two-turn claiming race next out, while runner-up Duke of Dooly was third at the $12,500 level in his most recent. This one adds blinkers for new trainer John Walters. #7 Boruff (7-2) was well-beaten against much better in his first two starts, but ran a strong 68 in his debut last September. His workouts have been getting better and he should be ready to fire first off the three-month layoff. #8 Moon Sign (5-1) stepped up to this level first off the claim last out and made mild ground late for a solid fourth-place finish.
RACE 4: ALLOWANCE (N/W1X), 4-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 1 1/16 MILES
#1 Jardani (10-1) looks like the better half of the Jamie Ness-trained entry. He was fourth at this level in his most recent start, coming from behind with a solid late rally at a one-turn mile. He won around two turns three times last year, running three of his four best figures. This is a tough first-level field but he should nonetheless be heard from in the end. #5 Doppelganger (1-1) was graded stakes-placed twice last year on the west coast, but hasn’t officially raced since a fourth-place effort in the Los Alamitos Derby last July. He joined the Brittany Russell barn in mid-December and has worked well around here since in preparation for his return. He ran figures as high as 95 last winter, and has the back-class needed to crush this field, but it has been a long time since he was last at the races. I’ll tread lightly at low odds. #7 Nostalgic Run (4-1) has lots of early speed, but a tough draw. He was challenged on the front end last out and was well-beaten. If he’s fast enough out of the gate, he could work out the trip he wants, but he’ll have to hustle.
RACE 5: STARTER ALLOWANCE $5,000, 4-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 6 FURLONGS
#4 Mojac Kat (6-1) improved to an 83 in his second start off a brief layoff last out. He was no match for Boondoggle, who ran them off their feet and won gate-to-wire, but Mojac Kat fended off the others and secured second. The pace should be a lot more honest here. #1 The Cairo Kid (5-2) rated off an extremely fast early pace last out and won at this level going away with a career-best 91. The second, third, and ninth-place finishers all came back to win their next starts. He’s also hoping for a fast pace in front of him. #2 Pit Stop Man (7-2) was one of those next-out winners, handily defeating an open claiming group gate-to-wire. He was claimed out of that race by Lynn Cash. He’s drawn closest to the rail of any of the main speed hoses but he should get plenty of pressure.
RACE 6: CLAIMING $10,000 (N/W3L), 4-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 1 1/16 MILES
#7 Badger Tooth (3-1) turned in middling performances for most of last year, but improved in his first start of 2023 when he battled for second at this level and ran an 85. He had an identical late pace figure that day as he did two starts ago, but the main difference was he was closer to the pace last out. #2 Only Child (5-1) has won two of his last four races, including a determined win a the n/w2L level last out. He has abundant early speed and a good post from which to show it. #9 Branco Maria (9-2) was fourth behind Badger Tooth in his most recent. While he hasn’t won in a while, he’s run on well late in some recent outings and could close for a slice of the exotics.
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RACE 7: MAIDEN SPECIAL WEIGHT, 3-YEAR-OLDS, 7 FURLONGS
#5 Seven’s Eleven (5-2) had the misfortune to run into Landon Jack on the day that speedy rival finally forgot to stop. Nonetheless, this one closed for second with a career-best figure of 79. He’s getting lasix for the first time here. #6 Goodafternoonoscar (9-2) was scratched from his 3-year-old debut two weeks ago but is set to return here. He missed by less than a length at first asking and was the only one near the early pace who hung around late. #3 Dover Bluff (4-1) has worked well since late October for Brittany Russell and is out of a half-sister to Grade 1 winner and $1.6 million earner Dunbar Road.
RACE 8: ALLOWANCE OPTIONAL CLAIMING (N/W2X), 4-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, FILLIES AND MARES, 7 FURLONGS
#6 Hashtag Lucky (6-1) is one of the few in here who has competed this year. She chased loose leader Mit Mazel, who won that day and was second in Maryland-bred allowance company next out, but chased admirably and held second. Her recent races give her the edge over her main rivals, many of whom haven’t raced in a while. #4 Acadian Girl (2-1) has won four in a row in front-running fashion and races for the first time since October 6. She’s won off breaks before, but in her 2022 debut, in which she was coming off a shorter rest, she set an overly aggressive pace going two turns and backpedaled. #2 Hope Has a Name (7-2) has hit the board in her last two starts at this condition, with figures of 84 both times. The horse who beat her last out, Response Time, went off as the even-money choice next out and finished second behind Prodigy Doll, a stakes winner making her second start off a six-month layoff.
RACE 9: MAIDEN CLAIMING $12,500, 3-YEAR-OLDS, 1 1/16 MILES
#2 Fowl Nation (9-5) didn’t have much of a problem going two turns in his debut. He made a nice move to the front and pulled clear, but faded late and was second. Jamie Ness adds blinkers after he lugged in in that race. #3 I Am the Mike (5-1) has run his two best figures in his two-turn starts, finishing third both times. He made up ground on the rail and got up in a photo while well behind Fowl Nation. #5 California Ghost (2-1) continues a slow class descent and has run at least a 59 in three of his last four races.
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