Free Picks & Analysis — Who Do Ya Like?
Saturday, January 16, 2016
On Saturday, we’re headed back out to Laurel Park where we’ve got FREE PICKS & ANALYSIS from John Piassek (@theyreoff)!
We thank John for taking the time to put together these selections for us today. His picks and analysis at Laurel Park are featured on DanonymousRacing.com every Saturday this fall and winter. We encourage you to give John a follow on Twitter – he’s one of the sharpest and hardest working young handicappers in racing.
Take it away, John…
It’s another stakes Saturday at Laurel: there’s the Marshua Stakes and the Frank Whitley Stakes for newly turned three-year-olds, as well as the Fire Plug Stakes for older sprinters.
Race 1: Maiden Claiming $12,500, 4yo and up, 5 ½ Furlongs
Maiden claiming races like this one are usually populated by chronic losers, or first-time-starters who are destined for a life in these kind of races. As such, a lightly raced horse with reasonably decent form is a good bet in these types of fields.
The 4, It’s Bull Bat Time, fits that profile. He debuted for an $8,000 tag first time out, usually a disastrous sign: after all, if an owner thought his horse was any good, why would he put him in for only $8,000 in his first race? However, It’s Bull Bat Time ran respectably well in that race, finishing third while earning a brisnet figure of 69. The only other horse to run a race like that is the 6, Field Sense, who has run figures above 70 in two of his last three races. However, he’s also taking a sharp drop from the $25,000 level, wasn’t in for a tag at all two races back, and is 0-10 lifetime. The sharpness of It’s Bull Bat Time’s debut gives me hope that he has some ability, and any ability at all will be good enough to get you into the winner’s circle in a race like this.
4- It’s Bull Bat Time
6- Field Sense
8- Done With Talent
Race 2: Claiming $5,000, 4yo and up, 6 Furlongs
The 2, Peaceadaaction, is the photo-negative of the unfortunate horses in the opener. He’s a very hard-knocking type of horse, having come in first or second in 34 of his 64 career races. He’s also won four out of his last six races, most recently grinding out a determined victory at this level last time out. In that race, he rated off leader, made his move around the turn, then hung on to defeat the good older claimer Dixie Deputy, who challenged him all through the stretch. He ran an 81 in that race—third best in the field, behind the 4, Compulsive, and the 3, Prospector’s Heart, the latter of whom fluked in his last race. Peaceadaaction has shown more consistent form; every one of his last six races has been a figure over an 80. I am mildly concerned about a possible regression from that big effort, especially since he has not worked out since that race, but he’s classy enough that it is entirely possible he will overcome such obstacles and win anyway.
The 8, Risky Guy, had been running figures in the upper 80s at Parx, before declining sharply last out after a poor beginning With a better break, he should return to good form. The 7, Cry From the Heart, also had good form in routes at Parx, but was disappointing in his first race off a two-month layoff last out. He makes his first start off the claim for Gerald Brooks, runs for the first time in a month, and cuts back in distance to six furlongs. He had been running up to a 98 in route races last summer at Parx, and anything close to that will get him in the winner’s circle.
8- Risky Guy
7- Cry From the Heart
Race 3: Maiden Claiming $40,000, 3yo, 5 ½ Furlongs
I’m usually not a fan of betting horses in maiden races who have run nowhere but second, because they usually get overbet, and become huge underlays. However, the 6, Legal Precedent, has such a huge edge over the rest of the field, it is hard to ignore him. He’s run a 78 in both of his two career races. That’s better than anyone in here has even earned by eleven points. In addition, his most recent 78 was earned in his first start off a seven-week layoff. He’s coming in here off a 15-day layoff, so he’ll be a lot fresher, and may improve even more. There’s a slim chance that he’ll offer much value in the win pools; it’s best to just single him in any multi-race bets and move on.
As far as horizontal wagers are concerned, an interesting horse to consider underneath Legal Precedent is the 8, Biography. He was soundly defeated in his debut, against straight maidens at Aqueduct. However, he’s now getting major class relief, and trainer Michael Hushion is a remarkable 35% with horses making their second career start. The 2, Lay Down the Law, is another exotics contender. He improved by nine points in his first race off the layoff—from a 52 to a 61—and has been working well for this spot. He’s also dropping down into maiden claiming company from straight maidens.
6- Legal Precedent
2- Lay Down the Law
Race 4: Marshua Stakes, 3yo, Fillies, 6 Furlongs
If you toss out her unimpressive Demoiselle—which you probably should, since that race was at 1 1/8 miles—the 1, Lost Raven, is a standout. She defeated similar rivals in the Smart Halo Stakes two races back here at Laurel, winning by three lengths, while earning a figure of 83. Her best races by far have been in sprints, and she’ll get a much-needed cut-back in distance to six furlongs. She’s got the best early pace figures in the field, plus an inside post, so she can go out to the lead, control the pace, and easily dispatch of any challenger en route to victory.
The 5, Karen’s Silk, has improved in each of her three career races, most recently running an 84 while winning a n/w1x allowance at Aqueduct. Should Lost Raven not fire, for whatever reason, she’s the best alternate hope. The 6, Trace of Grace, won her most recent race at Penn National with a good trip, sitting off a tired leader, then just getting up in the stretch. However, her figure sharply improved to an 85, suggesting better things may be afoot for her.
1- Lost Raven
5- Karen’s Silk
6- Trace of Grace
Race 5: Claiming $15,000, 4yo and up, 6 Furlongs
A handicapper taking a casual glance at this race may be dissuaded by the dull effort of the 6, Street Swagg, in his last race. After running figures in the 90s consistently at Finger Lakes, he disappointed at Aqueduct, earning a figure of 80. However, he was bumped badly at the start, thereby losing his advantageous early speed. With a clean start in this race, he’ll be a lot more dangerous. In the last five races in which he got the early lead, he won. In addition, Jeremiah Englehart hits at 34% with shipping horses, with a positive ROI. Street Swagg looks like a great rebound candidate in this spot.
The 2, Hurler, also has early speed, and a post position close to the inside. If he breaks well, he’ll possess a tactical advantage over Street Swagg. However, his overall speed figures are not as good as Street Swagg’s. The 7, King Henry, had great form before his last race, when he laid an egg in his first race in seven weeks at Penn National. This race will be his first one in another seven weeks, and I don’t know if I trust him to run back to his form from the summer. However, he turned in a great workout last week in preparation, so I will allow the possibility of a reversal in form.
6- Street Swagg
7- King Henry
Race 6: Frank Whiteley Stakes, 3yo, 7 Furlongs
Seven three-year-olds have lined up to honor the great Maryland-based trainer, who trained legends such as Damascus, Ruffian, and Forego. The 6, Marengo Road, is definitely not in their class yet, but is the most likely winner of the race. Going one turn here at Laurel two starts back, he demolished a field of n/w1x allowance horses by nine lengths, earning a figure of 92. He was disappointing in the Remsen in his last race, but may have been in over his head in that spot. Now, he’s returning to a track that he enjoys, at a shorter distance, and has been working brilliantly for this spot.
The 3, Never Gone South, has the best figures in the race, running above a 90 in each of his last two races. He’s come in second each time, though, the last time at 1-2 odds. I can’t play him again if he’ll be that low again, or even the favorite again. The 5, Huntin’theholidays, easily won a n/w1x allowance at Parx last time out, running an impressive 93. He ran a 91 three races back here at Laurel, and a repeat of that performance will earn him at least an in-the-money placing.
6- Marengo Road
3- Never Gone South
Race 7: Claiming $5,000, 4yo and up, Fillies and Mares, 1 1/16 Miles
On paper, this appears to be a two-horse race, between the 8, Dream Brew, and the 9, Muttak Baby. Both of them have shown great ability while running a route, something that none of their other eight rivals have shown. Despite her dull last effort, I gave the edge to Muttak Baby. Prior to her non-effort in her last race, where she was a lackadaisical sixth, she had run either a 77 or a 78 in each of her last four races. Two of those were in route races, and both of them included strong late pace figures. In a race where most of the runners have no late stamina, that’s a huge asset. She hasn’t run since late November, but since that last race, she’s turned in a solid worktab, including back-to-back three-furlong workouts in :37.0. It appears as if she’s rounding back into form, and looks ready to turn in a maximum effort.
Dream Brew cannot be disregarded either; she’s won three out of her last four races. She won her last two at route distances, by a combined total of fifteen lengths. Her figures have also been improving sharply: she ran a 76 and a 77 in her last two starts.
9- Muttak Baby
8- Dream Baby
3- Breaking the City
Race 8: Fire Plug Stakes, 4yo and up, 6 Furlongs
Ten sprinters have signed up to honor the good sprinter Fire Plug, who won numerous sprint stakes all over the east coast in the late 1980s.
My selection to win this one is the 2, Snow Leopard. I liked his last race, where he battled a bunch of decent starter allowance horses for the lead, yet shrugged them all off to win by 2 ½ lengths, earning a figure of 95. He’s had a maintenance workout since then, going five furlongs in 1:02.2. He’s got great early speed, the inside post, and enough determination to hold off his rivals.
The 6, Jake N Elwood, was fourth in the Gravesend last out, after being blown away by the blazing speed of Green Gratto. In the race prior to that, he won an allowance at Parx, earning a figure of 100. There’s no Green Grattos in here, so there’s a good chance of him duplicating that figure. He just has to get to the lead first. The 9, Beach Hut, finished third after setting the pace in the Dave’s Friend Stakes last out. He won two races back after being kept off the pace, so hopefully new jockey Trevor McCarthy will employ that strategy.
2- Snow Leopard
6- Jake N Elwood
9- Beach Hut
Race 9: Maiden Claiming $16,000, 3yo, 1 Mile
My pick to close the show will be the 7, Bama Sam. He ran a career-best 70 last time, and even though he was nine lengths behind the winner, he was only ¼ length behind the second-place finisher. Trainer Claudio Gonzalez is also a respectable 2-8 with horses going a route for the first time, and Bama Sam ran respectable figures in the 60s when going seven furlongs late last year.
The 3, Cute as a Button, improved to a 64 in his second dirt race last time out. That’s the second-best last-out figure in the race by five points. The 5, Popcastle, makes his dirt debut, and gets Lasix for the first time.
7- Bama Sam
3- Cute as a Button
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