LAUREL PARK PICKS AND PONDERINGS: november 16, 2023
In which we pick the races from Laurel Park each day…
Post time: 12:25 p.m.
Carryovers: Rainbow Jackpot Pick 6 — $5,209
Jackpot Super High 5 — $5,104
Late Pick 5 — $0
Check out our other handicapping here!
RACE 1: MAIDEN SPECIAL WEIGHT, 2-YEAR-OLDS, FILLIES, 6 FURLONGS
The weather may be getting colder, but Brittany Russell’s been on a heater. She’s 3-for-5 with her starters in 2-year-old straight maiden races at the fall meet, and she’s sending out a first-time starter here, in Sycamore Hall homebred #3 Independence Way (2-1). She’s worked consistently since late August, and finds herself in a fairly soft field on debut (in fact, the 9th race, where 2-year-olds are in for a tag, might be tougher). If she gets early action at the windows, that’s a sign she’ll be especially tough. #6 Hateful (30-1) looks like the best of the ones with experience in here. She showed little in her first two starts, but led almost all the way around last out and settled for second behind the late-flying Russell trainee Binnie. Even if Russell’s horse gobbles them up once again, this one looks fast enough to outrun the others. #7 Public Defender (9-2) has two recent bullet drills for Jane Cibelli and should be well-primed for this spot.
RACE 2: CLAIMING $25,000 (CONDITIONED), 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 1 1/16 MILES (GRASS)
#6 Willow Wood (2-1) showed promise on grass earlier this year, including a sharp win on the lawn at Pimlico in late May, but hasn’t been seen since mid-June. He’s worked well over the past few months at Fair Hill, including two recent bullet drills, and I don’t think Arnaud Delacour would bring him back towards the tail end of the Maryland grass season if he wasn’t ready to rumble. #5 Good Knight Nile (6-1) faced much better in a Maryland-bred allowance last out, losing to solid local runners Hardspun Reason and Mission Man that day, along with next-out winner Great Idea. He has some of the best late pace figures in the field, and should make a serious impact late as long as the pace isn’t too slow. #1 Imagine It All (5-1) should be prominent on the early pace, and will enjoy class relief after fading against better last out.
- Laurel: Rugged field set for Friday allowanceThe Friday Laurel allowance feature is a third-level allowance featuring a pair of Maryland Million Classic winners in Monday Morning Qb and Ournationonparade.
RACE 3: STARTER ALLOWANCE $5,000, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 5 1/2 FURLONGS
#8 Nottoway (2-1) has won three of his last four starts, including a victory last out where he stalked the pace and converted a great trip. Runner-up Dr. Doyle came back to beat an open claiming field last Saturday. He should get a pace to run into first off the claim by Kieron Magee. #4 Justinspeightofit (4-1) also has good tactical speed, but his brisnet figure ceiling isn’t quite as high as that of Nottoway. He’s run his career-top of 86 twice this year, while Nottoway has run beyond that twice. Still, this one is in top form and will also get his trip. #1 Savoy (12-1) made decent ground behind Nottoway last out, and continues to round back into his best form.
RACE 4: CLAIMING $40,000 (CONDITIONED), 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 1 MILE (GRASS)
#3 Riccio (6-1) consistently ran in the low/mid-80s all summer long, and returns to the races after a brief freshening following two flat efforts. He faded going 1 3/16 miles at Colonial Downs in his last grass start, and while this might be a tad shorter than he’d prefer, he should at least have a better chance. #8 Ghostlyprince (9-5) ships for the Rudy Rodriguez/Maddie Rowland trainer/jockey combo, which has already teamed up for a pair of victories this meet. This one ran a career-best 85 going three turns last out, but it wasn’t a visually impressive effort. He looks better off going two turns, as evidenced by some improving, game efforts against these types in New York over the summer. #7 Happy Cat (8-1) has gone gate-to-wire to win his last two starts, and should set the pace again in this spot.
RACE 5: MAIDEN CLAIMING $12,500, 2-YEAR-OLDS, 7 FURLONGS
#2 Seeker (8-1) ran by far a career-best race at Delaware Park last out. He set the pace going a mile and shrugged off two potential challengers, but couldn’t hold off Hittheroadjak, who sat a great trip and returned to win here this past Saturday. This one is getting good at the right time and will be tough to deal with late. #1A Minny Speightster (9-5), my preferred half of the Jamie Ness entry, has run back-to-back 60s in his last two starts. He was outkicked on the pace by an odds-on favorite last out, but managed to hold second. #9 Tortola (10-1) just missed second in his first start at this level last out, and is prime to take another step forward at possibly a good price.
RACE 6: STARTER OPTIONAL CLAIMING $20,000, 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 5 1/2 FURLONGS (GRASS)
The top two finishers at this condition on Oct. 27 are back for another go-around. After a few near-misses against similar, #6 Rebel Posse (7-2) made a sharp, wide move and got up to win over #2 Lucci (5-1), who sat off a very fast early pace, but was outkicked. Their form was validated when Nichiren, who finished third in that race, returned to beat slightly better rivals on Nov. 5 in gate-to-wire style. With faster horses drawn to his outside, Lucci should work out another nice trip stalking their flanks, and once again Rebel Posse will have every chance to mow them down. #13 Brazillionaire (6-1) has faced better in his last few starts and should work out a similar trip as Lucci, albeit a few paths further off the rail.
- 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 (N/W1X), 3-YEAR-OLDS AND UP, 6 FURLONGS
#6 Berlone (5-1) broke his maiden in dominant fashion two starts back at Aqueduct in his first start off a nine-month layoff, but struggled going a mile last out. Cutting back to six panels should help the cause. #11 Street Hustle (10-1) has great closing speed, and has run at least an 87 four times in his last six starts. One of the races where he didn’t was at Timonium, where figures can be lower than at other tracks, the other came when he stumbled badly at the start and lost early position. #9 Amity Road (7-2) always holds his own at this level, and won twice on this track earlier this year. Although this isn’t a class drop on paper, it’s an easier field than the one he saw last time, where he finished behind a pair of next-out winners in Brother Conway and Childers.
RACE 8: ALLOWANCE OPTIONAL CLAIMING (N/W1X), 2-YEAR-OLDS, 1 MILE (GRASS)
#3 Derbyness (4-1) was a game winner in his maiden-breaking score two starts back, but faded after racing wide throughout in his first start at this level. He should work out a much better trip in his first start at this condition. #6 Massif (9-5) was a hard-charging third in that race, but has so little early speed, he’ll be up against it pretty much all the time. He’s a strong candidate for the underneath spots, but he’ll have to really fly late to win. #8 Chat Blanc (9-2) closed well to win going short on the lawn at first asking, and switches back here after two dull dirt tries.
RACE 9: MAIDEN CLAIMING $30,000, 2-YEAR-OLDS, 6 FURLONGS
If Tocayo wins the preceding race, it would validate the form of #1 Mister Agent (3-1). This one lost to Tocayo at first asking after battling with him the whole way, ultimately holding on to third. Tocayo returned to finish a game second at big odds on the lead last out. This one cuts back in distance and returns to dirt following a grass effort where he showed little. #8 Buckin’ Dreamer (7-5) improved sharply at second asking, running a 68 after dueling on a contentious pace. Runner-up One Way Farrior, who sat the trip but ended up second, broke his maiden at Charles Town last Thursday. #5 Whiskeyinthejaro (7-2) adds blinkers first off the claim by Joanne Shankle. He just missed second behind a runaway winner last out after showing brief speed.
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