LAUREL PARK PICKS AND PONDERINGS: May 6, 2023
In which we pick the races from Laurel Park each day…
Post time: 12:00 p.m.
Carryovers: Rainbow Jackpot Pick 6 — $723 Jackpot Super High 5 — $0 Late Pick 5 — $0
Check out our other handicapping here!
RACE 1: CLAIMING $25,000 (CONDITIONED), 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, FILLIES AND MARES, 1 1/8 MILES (GRASS)
We’ve got 11 races on the Derby day card, and unlike last year, the weather around here looks great, with fast and firm conditions on tap. Note the earlier-than-usual post time. #8 Eau Claire (2-1) won back-to-back starts on grass at Tampa Bay Downs impressively this winter, and now gets some class relief after facing better in her last two races. She’s worked very sharply each of the last two Saturdays at Fair Hill. #1 Evangeline Allons (4-1) has a very even-paced closing style that gets her plenty of checks; she’s hit the board in six of eight lifetime on the Laurel grass with just one win. Downtown Katie, who she was second to in her last grass try in November, came back to win on Thursday as the favorite. #6 Color Crush (7-2) rallied for third at giant odds last November against better, including stakes-placed Lisheen. This’ll be her first start of the season. She didn’t do much in her 2022 bow under similar circumstances, but also got stuck behind an impossible pace circumstance that seems unlikely here.
RACE 2: CLAIMING $40,000 (N/W2L), 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, FILLIES AND MARES, 6 FURLONGS
#6 That’s Some Kiss (7-5) turned in two solid second-place finishes earlier in the meet, with brisnet figures in the 80s both times. However, she regressed quite a bit last out while being outrun, albeit against better rivals than the one she’ll see here. If she runs back to her old form, and she could do it against softer rivals, the rest of these are in trouble. #5 Ice Cube Baby (3-1) recovered from a bad break last out and just missed behind an odds-on choice who sat a perfect trip. She finished second in each of her last three one-turn starts with figures in the 70s. That’s a tad below the best of That’s Some Kiss, but good enough to outrun the rest. #2 Golden Angel (6-1) broke her maiden in gate-to-wire fashion on debut last out. She looks fast enough to get to the front; from there, it’s just a matter of how long she can hold on.
- Circle P rallies to win Maryland JuvenileCircle P benefited from a spirited speed duel and a patient Ricardo Chiappe ride to win the Maryland Juvenile Stakes Saturday at Laurel.
RACE 3: MAIDEN CLAIMING $45,000, 3, 4, AND 5-YEAR-OLDS, 1 1/16 MILES (GRASS)
Arnaud Delacour and Daniel Centeno team up with Eau Claire in the opener, and they’re back for more with #4 Tulchan (2-1). He made his debut at Turfway Park last out, and was the only first-time starter in the race. He ran credibly, battling for the early lead and fighting hard in the stretch for third. If he transfers his form from synthetic to grass, and there’s no indication he can’t, he’ll be tough to beat. #8 Maryland Moon (9-2) has slowly improved since returning from a long break in late February. He made a move for the front and backed up in his two-turn debut after a wide trip, but it was still a positive step forward compared to his recent starts. #10 Curteis (8-1) ran no worse than a 66 in five grass starts last year, and goes second off a ten-week layoff. He’s probably been waiting for a spot like this.
RACE 4: CLAIMING $5,000, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 6 FURLONGS
#3 Bernie’s on Fire (5-2) ran a bit differently than usual last out, stalking the pace and getting up to win at Charles Town. Here, he looks fast enough to wire the field. All three of his wins last year came on the pace. #2 Nashvegas (2-1) will hope for a hot pace. He closed off very fast fractions last out and lost by two lengths. He’s dropping in class after several tries against starter allowance foes. #6 Tom Terrific (9-2) has inconsistent form, but at his best, he has a strong late punch and could be dangerous in the stretch.
RACE 5: MAIDEN CLAIMING $12,500, 3, 4, AND 5-YEAR-OLDS, 6 FURLONGS
After two dull tries following an eight-month layoff, #6 A Thousand Idols (8-1) closed well for a clear-cut third in his most recent start at Charles Town. He has the best last-out figure in the field, with a 65, and will likely go off at higher odds than deserved. #9 Bubba Chrome (5-2) has run into some heavy favorites and impressive winners in his last few starts, but now he’s the one who’ll be the likely favorite. He’s run in the 60s three times in his last four starts, and will contend here if he doesn’t regress. #1 Surf City Gold (5-1) made a solid move up the inside to just miss third in his debut. This’ll be his first start since January 20.
RACE 6: STARTER OPTIONAL CLAIMING $12,500, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, FILLIES AND MARES, 5 1/2 FURLONGS (GRASS)
#4 Shasta Star (4-1) kicked away to win against better at Belmont Park last May on grass, running an impressive 88 in the process. She must have been injured in that race, as a claim on her was voided and she did not return to the races for ten months. She ran middling races on dirt in her first two tries off the layoff, but now goes third off the break and gets on her preferred surface. #11 Klayton’s Kandy (5-1) showed speed and faded around two turns last out, but cuts back around one turn for her 2023 debut and looks like the main speed of this group. #3 Raise Your Game (10-1) already has a grass win at the meet, coming from off the pace to win at this condition in her grass debut. It was a promising race on which to build from.
- Martina Rojas: “Nothing like loving your job”Preternaturally driven apprentice rider Martina Rojas has opened some eyes of late with solid meets at Presque Isle, Timonium, Pimlico and now Laurel.
RACE 7: CLAIMING $10,000 (CONDITIONED), 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 7 FURLONGS
The late pick 5 begins here. With it being Derby day, the pools in both pick 5 sequences should be nice. #5 Gilligan (4-1) closed stoutly for second behind an odds-on rival who got the jump on him in his most recent start, his third one off the bench. Over the fall and early winter at Gulfstream Park, he had potent early speed, but in his most recent starts, he came from off the pace. Now that he’s rounded back into form, he could be more forwardly-placed in this spot. #6 Never Change (7-2) was visually unimpressive against better in his last start and now gets some class relief. Outside of a freakish effort at Keeneland last fall, his ceiling appears to be in the upper-70s/low-80s, right in the range of what’s needed to win this. #4 Young Turk (5-2) set the pace and faded to third behind Gilligan last out. He’s almost certainly going for the lead this time; can he hold it?
RACE 8: STARTER OPTIONAL CLAIMING $30,000, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, FILLIES AND MARES, 6 FURLONGS
#1 Proper Attire (5-2) won three in a row between the tail end of last year and the start of this one. She stepped up in class last out and though she fought hard in the stretch, she could not wear down Golden Effect and finished second. She should find these easier to deal with, but if she has trouble getting by anyone, it’ll be #7 Brzina (3-1). This one has run career bests in three of her last four starts, including a dominant gate-to-wire win against Maryland-bred allowance company last out. She should make the front under Luis Rivera Jr, who rode her to victory last time, and from there she should prove tough to catch. #6 Respectfully (6-1) ships from New York for David Jacobson, who has won three times from six races in which he’s had at least one starter. This one was a solid third behind odds-on Kant Hurry Love and free-wheeling early leader Lady Milagro in her most recent dirt start at Aqueduct. She’s looking for a rebound off a dull grass try last out.
RACE 9: ALLOWANCE OPTIONAL CLAIMING (N/W3X), 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 1 MILE (GRASS)
#3 Wicked Prankster (12-1) went gate-to-wire to win the Maryland Million Turf last year, and has shown aptitude for this surface, hitting the board six times from seven starts on it. He made his return to the races a few weeks back in a tough allowance field on dirt, and showed speed before fading. That race was likely designed as a prep for today’s race, and now he’s back at his preferred surface and back around two turns. If he wins here, don’t be surprised to see him in the Dinner Party Stakes in two weeks’ time. #2 Eons (3-1) is the classiest member of the field, having won back-to-back stakes on this track, including a victory in the Prince George’s County Stakes on this track. He made his seasonal bow in a tough allowance race on Keeneland opening day, and raced wide throughout. He should improve second off the layoff and get a more ground-saving trip. #7 Bode’s Maker (4-1) won four in a row on grass last year, but has not been seen since August. Look for him to challenge Wicked Prankster for the early lead.
RACE 10: ALLOWANCE OPTIONAL CLAIMING (N/W3X), 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 1MILE
You don’t see too many horses get claimed for $80,000, but Mike Trombetta took the chance with #3 Spa City (5-2) at Keeneland. The 6-year-old gelding ran a big race that day, pressing the pace and hanging on until late. He ran a 96 that day, his best figure in months, and it’s likely that Trombetta claimed him because he thinks he’ll do very well in races like this. #7 Galerio (2-1) returned first off a ten-week break last out and finished a game second to multiple stakes winner Armando R. Outside of a race in early January where he checked out of contention and flattened out, he’s run at least a 90 in every race for a while. #1 Bobby G (12-1) has a strong late kick and will try to stay close to the pace, like he did in victory last out against softer.
RACE 11: MAIDEN CLAIMING $45,000, 3, 4, AND 5-YEAR-OLDS, 1 1/16 MILES (GRASS)
Runner-up finishes in three straight starts is usually not great for a maiden bet at low odds, but #5 Bunker Hill (8-5) has the best grass form in here by a large margin. He matched his career-best effort last out at Gulfstream Park with a game runner-up finish despite a wide trip. Someone else will have to really step up to have a hope of beating him. #2 Inspired Irish (6-1) has rapidly improved in his last few starts. He chased an odds-on leader in his last start who took them coast-to-coast, but she held second with a career-best 77. #10 Long Rap Sheet (6-1) made his grass debut last out and just missed third at 36-1 after chasing the pace. He’s liable to improve third off the layoff.
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