LAUREL PARK PICKS AND PONDERINGS: june 23, 2023
In which we pick the races from Laurel Park each day…
Post time: 12:25 p.m.
Carryovers: Rainbow Jackpot Pick 6 — $4,734 Jackpot Super High 5 — $4,268 Late Pick 5 — $0
Check out our other handicapping here!
RACE 1: MAIDEN CLAIMING $30,000, 3, 4, AND 5-YEAR-OLDS, 1 MILE (GRASS)
14-5-16-3 (DIRT: 6-14-12-2)
#14 Lunar Mission (8-1) was visually unimpressive in his first two grass starts, but ran brisnet figures competitive with these, earning a 70 and a 69. He closed well for second first off the long layoff at Charles Town, and faces a soft field in which to make his grass return. #5 Rector (4-1) was caught wide around both turns at Pimlico last out, but ran a strong 80 two back in his grass debut. He’s taking a sharp drop in class, in this case from the $45,000 level, and will be a serious threat with a better trip. #16 Master Oogway (6-1) has abundant early speed and could prove tough to catch if he can get clear.
RACE 2: CLAIMING $16,000 (CONDITIONED), 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 1 MILE
#7 Down Cold (8-5) had some near-misses against better earlier this year, while running figures vastly superior to those of the rest of his rivals today. He’s run in the 80s in each of his last six starts, something that most of his rivals rarely do. As long as he runs his usual race, he’s going to be very tough to beat. #3 Mailman’s a Flyer (5-2) makes his first start since March 31, but has worked well as of late for Lynn Cash. He has a grinding closing style that isn’t always compatible with victory. Of his two wins, one came against maidens at Charles Town, and the other was a desperate nose victory on this track earlier this year. I think he’s likely to rally into the exacta with Down Cold, but no more. #4 Hellman (5-1) goes first off the claim by Anthony Farrior, who also trains Down Cold, and swooped the field to win against n/w2L foes going away in his last dirt start.
- Direct the Cat is all that in Rachel’s TurnDirect the Cat blew her opponents away in a dominant performance in Friday’s Rachel’s Turn Stakes at Charles Town Races.
RACE 3: MAIDEN CLAIMING $30,000, 3, 4, AND 5-YEAR-OLDS, FILLIES AND MARES, 1 MILE (GRASS)
13-1-7-8 (DIRT: 12-6-14-2)
This is an Amateur Riders Club of America race, featuring all amateur jockeys. #13 Kobe’s Smile (8-1) did less than nothing in her first two starts on dirt, but showed some life in her grass debut at Delaware Park last out. She flew in the last eighth to miss by 1 1/2 lengths at 36-1, and has a strong grass workout since then, going four furlongs in 50 1/5. #1 Hazelmoor Beach (7-2) improved sharply in her season debut last out to a career-best 72. She’s shown good closing speed in the past and should be a factor late. #7 Tanka Tough (5-2) made a strong, but premature, move to the front last out and got caught in the last sixteenth. She’s taken big steps forward in her two flat starts this year compared to her form last season.
RACE 4: STARTER OPTIONAL CLAIMING $30,000, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 7 FURLONGS
#1A Boss Logic (8-5) is my preferred half of the Jamie Ness entry. He went to the sidelines after a dull race against second-level allowance foes at Parx last out, but won four of six prior to that, running no worse than an 88 each time. He won at this level twice with huge figures, and has worked well twice at Delaware Park in preparation for his return. #5 Air Token (2-1) has won at least an 89 in each of his last four starts, and impressively won at this level last out after showing speed, albeit over just three rivals. Much Better, Boss Logic’s entrymate, is the only other serious speed threat, so it’s possible Air Token once again finds himself in an advantageous pace scenario. Hard-knocking #4 Clubman (7-2), making his 70th career start, was outkicked by the impressive Berks last out, but has been in consistent form against similar and cuts back from 1 1/8 miles.
RACE 5: STARTER OPTIONAL CLAIMING $12,500, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 5 1/2 FURLONGS (GRASS)
7-2-3-6 (DIRT: 6-11-12-14)
#7 Threatlevelmidnite (5-2) has run two big races on the lead since joining the Lynn Cash barn in February. Last out, she improved to an 81, her best figure in months, after shrugging off early pace pressure and holding on for second. She should once again be a serious pace factor. #2 Lily Simone (8-1) took advantage of a great trip and won going away last out, improving sharply second off the claim to a 76. She’ll be right there if the pace melts down. #3 Gennie Highway (5-1) hasn’t raced since she bled at Monmouth Park last August. Take that race out (as you should), and you’ll see a mare with great late pace figures time after time. I’m looking for her to rally for a share once again.
RACE 6: ALLOWANCE OPTIONAL CLAIMING (N/W2X), 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, FILLIES AND MARES, 7 FURLONGS
The only thing that could slow down #12 Respectfuily (9-2) in here is the extreme outside post position. She made a strong four-wide move to win her last dirt start going away, against a field that isn’t much softer than the one she’ll see today. Jamie Ness tried her on grass next out, and it didn’t quite work out, so she’s now returning to her preferred surface. She should rate off the pace on the outside and pounce. #8 I’m Gittin There (6-1) started tailing off a bit towards the start of the spring meet, and was given some time off by Hammy Smith. She was flat in her return to the races at Pimlico last out, but she now returns to the track she prefers and has had a good workout since then, going four furlongs in 48 4/5. She ran in the mid/upper-80s with regularity over the winter, and that type of race at least contends in here. #5 Combat Queen (8-1) exits the same race as I’m Gittin There and has an almost identical pattern. She got caught wide throughout in that race, but should have a slightly more ground-saving journey here.
- Catching up with… Jessica PaquetteWe caught up with Parx Racing track announcer Jessica Paquette on the eve of her becoming the first woman to call a US Grade 1 race.
RACE 7: ALLOWANCE (N/W1X), 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, FILLIES AND MARES, 1 MILE (GRASS)
9-1-10-14 (DIRT: 8-6-5-11)
#9 Thegirlfromireland (3-1) broke her maiden going away on this track two starts back, then improved to a career-best 88 when third at this level on Preakness day. She ran a big race, rating off the pace and making a strong move to the lead off a loose leader, but was run down by better horses. She’s facing an easier first-level field here. #1 Downtown Katie (2-1) outfinished Thegirlfromireland that day, closing for second on the heels of a dominant victory against Maryland-breds. It remains to be seen how high her ceiling is, but she should once again make a huge late rally, albeit at low odds. #10 Youens (8-1) goes third off the layoff and gets a rider upgrade to Sheldon Russell. She could spice up the exotics at a good number.
RACE 8: ALLOWANCE OPTIONAL CLAIMING (N/W1X), 3-YEAR-OLDS, FILLIES, 1 1/16 MILES
#2 Major Houlihan (2-1) has improved with each start since joining the Hugh McMahon barn, and most recently rallied for second with a career-best 84 behind front-running winner Fast Tracked. This one has run into some tough rivals lately, but now she’s finally found a spot where she’s clearly the one to beat. #3 Ruthanne (5-2) hasn’t run worse than a 78 in her three career starts, and peaked with an 84 in an impressive maiden score at Parx two races back. She hasn’t run beyond six furlongs, making her a question mark compared to Major Houlihan, Cal Lynch worked her a mile at Fair Hill twelve days ago, which is an encouraging sign. #7 Just North (3-1) raced wide throughout but got up to break her maiden two starts ago, running a respectable 78, then earned a career-best 82 against better on grass on Preakness day. It looks like it’s all coming together at the right time for her.
RACE 9: CLAIMING $16,000 (N/W2L), 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, FILLIES AND MARES, 5 1/2 FURLONGS (GRASS)
6-7-9-13 (DIRT: 5-4-13-6)
#6 Watch Me Disappear (9-2) broke her maiden in gate-to-wire style last out and was claimed out of that race by Jerry Robb. She ran some promising races on grass last year, rating near the pace and earning a solid 71. #7 Gogo Chanel (2-1) has run in the 70s in her last three grass starts, but hasn’t raced since last November. If she runs like her old self first off the bench, she likely wins this. #9 Ballyhooly (8-1) goes third off a 19-month break and closed gamely for third last out in a much-improved effort.