LAUREL PARK PICKS AND PONDERINGS: SEPTEMBER 30, 2023
In which we pick the races from Laurel Park each day…
Post time: 12:25 p.m.
Carryovers: Rainbow Jackpot Pick 6 —$1,747
Jackpot Super High 5 — $0
Late Pick 5 — $0
Check out our other handicapping here!
RACE 1: MAIDEN SPECIAL WEIGHT, 3, 4, AND 5-YEAR-OLDS, FILLIES AND MARES, 6 FURLONGS
The 11-race extravaganza will kick off with some maidens on the dirt. #4 Party Is Over (2-1) ran huge in her dirt debut at Monmouth Park last out. She battled in a three-ply duel for the lead, and while her two partners finished well behind, she fought on in the stretch and ended up second. While she might’ve lost by more had the winner found room sooner, it was nonetheless a strong effort, and she looks like much the best of the speed horses here. #8 Flitter (6-1) has run similar races in her two starts, stalking the pace and holding on for a share both times. Perhaps the addition of blinkers will help her stay focused late. #2 Cushee (6-1) makes her first start off a long layoff for Mike Stidham. She showed some promise on debut at Fair Grounds last December, but was eased next out, and hasn’t been seen since. It’s hard to know what to make of her, but if this $775,000 yearling purchase is on, she might be tough to beat.
RACE 2: CLAIMING $16,000 (CONDITIONED), 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, FILLIES AND MARES, 1 1/16 MILES (GRASS)
#9 Pounding Music (4-1) won the Maryland Million Turf Distaff Starter Handicap next year, and could well be prepping for a title defense here (we’ll find out tomorrow when pre-entries come out). Though she showed little in her season debut two starts ago, she closed well late for third last out after running last most of the way. She’s run brisnet figures in the 80s twice in her last three grass starts, a range everyone else here struggles to reach. #5 Please Marry Me (15-1) held second after setting the pace last out. The winner, Hope Over Fear, returned to beat starter optional claiming foes at Pimlico for her third win in a row. This one looks like the main speed of the race. #14 Hot Choice (10-1) closed well against these types earlier this season, and has run consistently solid figures over the past year.
- 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: STARTER OPTIONAL CLAIMING $30,000, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 1 1/16 MILES
When this race was carded for last Saturday, #6 Passage of Lines (5-2) looked like tons the best on paper. He’s won three of his last five races, with figures in the 90s three times in that stretch, and has good tactical speed. He should be tough if he gets the right trip, especially with the speedy Bob Marco setting the pace, but he now has a more formidable opponent to deal with. The only bad figure #7 Midnight Act (8-1) has run as of late came at Timonium. Take that race out, and he’s in improving form, including a strong 95 earned in victory last out at Penn National. He’ll have to run his best to beat Passage of Lines, but if you want an alternative to the favorite, he’s your best bet. #3 Dolice Vita (5-1) closed well for second last out, on Memorial Day Saturday, and has faced salty rivals all year while in improving form.
RACE 4: MAIDEN CLAIMING $30,000, 3, 4, AND 5-YEAR-OLDS, FILLIES AND MARES, 1 1/16 MILES (GRASS)
#9 Apple Shake Shake (2-1) drops in for a tag on grass for the first time. She was visually unimpressive in both of her starts on this surface, but her figures fit in with these. #8 Queen Rocket (7-2) got caught late after opening up a clear lead on the turn in her most recent race. It was a bit of a change of pace from her other recent grass races. Usually, she sets the pace, but last out, she came from off a pace that, for the most part, melted down. Without a lot of speed in here, she could find herself back on the early lead. You don’t see too many Tennessee-breds anywhere, but #14 Vana Bright (15-1) fits the bill. She improved sharply to a 76 two starts back in her two-turn debut and made mild ground on the Presque Isle Downs synthetic last out.
RACE 5: ALLOWANCE (N/W1X), 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, FILLIES AND MARES, MD-BRED/SIRED, 7 FURLONGS
#6 Liquidator (5-2) returns to dirt after a dull grass try last out, and has the best early pace figures in the race. Unlike her prior races, where she’s gotten into dogfights for the lead, I don’t see anyone being able to keep up with her. #9 Northern Glow (2-1) is the only one in the field who has run in the 80s in her last three starts, which happen to be her only three starts. She declined a bit last out when third behind next-out winner Mama G’s Wish, but ran huge in her prior two starts, and has some good recent workouts since that August 12 race. #1 Little Josie Wales (8-1) broke awkwardly last out, and in a five-furlong race, that means you’re in trouble. She rallied for third in a game effort, and is the best bet to challenge Liquidator early, if anyone can.
RACE 6: SELIMA STAKES, 2-YEAR-OLDS, FILLIES, 1 1/16 MILES (GRASS)
The first stakes of the day is named for one of the foundation mares of the Thoroughbred breed. Chad Brown is potent in every grass stakes he runs in, and it’s no different here, as he sends out #9 Positive Carry (3-1). She went off at 6-1 as the “other Chad” on debut at Saratoga, but closed well late and finished second. She showed good tactical speed that day, and if she moves forward off that race, she’ll be very tough. #4 Hekate (12-1) closed well off moderate fractions first time out at Colonial Downs. She crossed the wire second, but was placed first after a rival was disqualified for ducking in late. With a more honest tempo to close into, she could surprise these. #3 Low Mileage (12-1) is the lone stakes winner in the field, having taken the Jamestown Stakes going away last out. The distance is a question mark, as she’s never been beyond 5 1/2 furlongs, but she’s already shown plenty of aptitude on the lawn and has run on well late in each of her four starts. #4
- 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: ALLOWANCE OPTIONAL CLAIMING (N/W3X), 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 7 FURLONGS
#8 Business Model (2-1) put the swoop to the group and won in a very impressive performance at Saratoga last out, running a figure in the 90s for the third time in his last five starts. He should wolf these down in the lane once again. #7 Sir Alfred James (6-1) tends to sit nice trips and fall just short. Most recently, he finished second to upset winner Dollarization in the Lite the Fuse Stakes. He’s started to round back into his best form following a mid-summer break, and while I’m not sure if he’ll pack a winning punch, he’ll be a better price than Business Model with a similar running style. #4 No Cents (15-1) ran in the 90s consistently last year, and looks to take a step forward second off the layoff.
RACE 8: JAPAN TURF CUP, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 1 1/2 MILES (GRASS)
What’s better than a full field going long on the lawn? #6 Yamoto (2-1) came from way downtown to get second in a solid second-level race at Churchill Downs. Mike Maker is always dangerous with high-priced claimers in smaller grass stakes races, and this one fits the bill, as he was taken for $50,000 at Gulfstream Park in March. #1 Bear Oak (3-1) ran huge last out in his return to grass, converting a stalking trip to win at Saratoga with a very strong 99. He has to stretch out from 1 3/16 miles here, but he should at least get another great setup on the inside. #14 Ajourneytofreedom (30-1) has some early speed and has run some big figures in his recent grass start, with at least a 95 in two of his last four tries on the lawn. He could prove dangerous on the lead at a big number.
RACE 9: TWIXT STAKES, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, FILLIES AND MARES 1 1/16 MILES
The Maryland-bred star of the mid-1970s is honored with this race. #9 Interstatedaydream (4-5) oozes class compared to these. She won the Allaire DuPont Stakes on Black-Eyed Susan day, and has since placed against better stakes fields in her last two, running in the mid-90s both times. She’s burned a lot of money in her last few starts, and the post isn’t ideal, but she should still be able to beat these without much trouble. Otherwise, her case of seconditis can be confirmed as severe. #8 Battle Bling (8-1) has had some time off since stopping badly in the Delaware Handicap last out. She won this race last year as part of a three-race winning streak, but has had in-and-out form since then. She has good tactical speed, and should at least by able to get a good trip. #1 Malibu Beauty (10-1) scratched out of the Tax Free Shopping Distaff on Thursday to run here. She ran a nice bounce-back second in the Timonium Distaff last out, and will try to wire this field from the inside.
RACE 10: LAUREL FUTURITY, 2-YEAR-OLDS, 1 1/16 MILES (GRASS)
Some of the all-time greats of the sport have won this race. Are any of these future all-time greats? Probably not! Still, it’s a full, wide-open field, and looks like a very fun race. #1 Tropandhagen (3-1) had to work for his maiden win at Monmouth, battling on the lead all the way to win going away. He’ll almost certainly get easier fractions than the 22.61 opening quarter he had to set last time. #6 Edgartown (8-1) also raced on the lead throughout on debut at Kentucky Downs, and while he couldn’t finish the deal, he ran an identical figure to Tropandhagen, with a 73. He should once again be on the early pace, and is eligible to take a step forward for Joe Sharp. #8 Blame the Tux (20-1) has the best last-out figure in the race, having run an 81 in his game maiden-breaking score at Colonial Downs. He’s unproven at two turns, but is worth a shot at that price if you believe in his debut.
RACE 11: MAIDEN CLAIMING $45,000, 3, 4, AND 5-YEAR-OLDS, 7 FURLONGS
#5 Margie’s Fun Son (6-1) was probably best in his last start. He got knocked around at the break and was once again forced to make up tons of ground late. He almost completed his mission, as he was beaten less than two lengths for the second straight race. He goes first off the claim by Kenny Cox. #3 Catching Stars (3-1) flattened out in the stretch last out at Pimlico, but still managed to run an 83. It’s the second straight race where he ran by far a career-best figure. #9 John Jay (7-2) ran a solid fourth at Delaware Park last out in his first start in ten months. He earned figures in the 70s consistently last year.
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