Free Picks & Analysis — Who Do Ya Like?
Saturday, October 29, 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. We encourage you to give John a follow on Twitter – he’s one of the sharpest and hardest working young handicappers in racing.
There ain’t no rest for the wicked this Saturday at Laurel Park. We’ve got an eleven-race card today, featuring 138 entries over eleven races. There’s no shortage of big fields and great betting opportunities here.
Race 1: Claiming $5,000 (n/w3L), 3yo and up, Fillies and Mares, 1 Mile
Today’s opener is, as they say, an excellent betting race. Eleven fillies and mares are set to contest this one, without a standout in the bunch. The 9, Da’blues Dancer, spent most of the summer racing at Arlington Park, where she turned in a string of second and third-place finishes without a victory. Returning to the dirt at Delaware Park earlier this month, she finished a strong-closing third at this level, and most recently finished fourth at the same condition after trying to rally from mid-pack. She’s run brisnet figures in the mid-70s, with a strong 79 coming in that race two back. She figures to get a good spot stalking off the leaders, and looks to make a big move late. If she isn’t too overbet (she lost at 6/5 last out), she’ll be a good way to kick off the program.
The 5, Dance N Denae, had a good summer at Monmouth Park, with two figures of 77 from two dirt starts on the meet. She disappointed over the Charles Town bullring last out, but she fell far behind a slow pace there and was hung wide over the tight turns. Stretching back out to a mile and running over a more normal-sized track should be more to her liking. The 11, Silly Face, has won her last two races, both at Delaware Park, with a field-best last-out figure of 79. She will be on the lead, and will hope to slow down the pace to a slow tempo. She runs her best race when allowed to go slowly early on.
9- Da’blues Dancer
5- Dance N Denae
11- Silly Face
Race 2: Claiming $10,000 (n/w2L), 3yo and up, 7 Furlongs
For most his career, the 1, Sir Luca Richard, has tried running in routes. He’s been good at it, with figures in the 70s every time out, and a victory against $10,000 maiden claimers two races back. Notably, that victory was going one turn, at a mile. It was also his co-highest figure ever, at a 75. Now, he’s cutting back to seven furlongs, a distance he’s never tried before, against horses who have mostly tried and failed to win at sprints. Even better for Sir Luca Richard, he makes his second start for trainer Kieron Magee, who claimed him out of his victory two starts back. Even though Magee hasn’t really gotten going at the meet yet (with a 14% winning percentage), his overall stats have him at an excellent 28% off the claim.
The 5, Grecian Prince, has easily the best figures in the field, running as high as a 90 earlier in the year, and running a 77 in his most recent dirt start. However, alarm bells are rung when one looks at the company he’s been keeping. He was in for a $45,000 tag earlier in the year. When he made his return off an almost-five-month layoff on the grass earlier this month, he was in for $16,000. Now, he’s dropping in for $10,000. If he runs his race, he’ll win. However, I’m skeptical that he will. The 4, Raven Rush, was a solid fourth at this level last out, with a figure of 73. He’s working well for this race and figures to stalk early pace, maybe even be on it.
1- Sir Luca Richard
5- Grecian Prince
4- Raven Rush
Race 3: Maiden Claiming $25,000, 3yo and up, 1 1/16 Miles (Grass)
If you toss out his ill-advised try at 1 ½ miles, the 10, Irish Major hasn’t run a bad race in a long time. Last out, he almost wired a $16,000 field while going 1 mile and 70 yards at Delaware Park, finishing a good second with a sky-high figure of 88. That’s not just the best last-out figure in the field, that’s the best race anyone in the field has ever run by a mile. Tossing out his long-distance try two races ago, he’s run a 77, a 79, and a 77 in his three prior grass tries. He’s in excellent form, has lots of early speed, and has the same jockey—Victor Carrasco—who almost rode him to gate-to-wire glory last out.
The 7, Path Dependent, has run figures as high as 80 when going two turns in the past. He’s been running in sprints recently, and makes his first start off the claim for the ever-dangerous Kieron Magee. Blinkers are coming off for him. The 8, Immunity, ships down from Belmont Park, where he was beaten 3 ½ lengths against $40,000 horses in his last race. He’s been going against maiden special weight horses in New York for most of the year, so if nothing else, he’ll feel some class relief here.
10- Irish Major
7- Path Dependent
Race 4: Starter Optional Claiming $25,000, 3yo and up, Fillies and Mares, 6 Furlongs
The 7, Staff Sgt Reckless, comes in from Penn National, where, even though she hasn’t won, she’s been running some good races. Last out, she broke slowly and checked on the turn, but still ran a solid second, with a figure of 84. Two races ago at Delaware, she battled for the lead and tired, but still ran a good second, with a figure of 79. She can either be on or near the lead, and has the best late pace figures in the race. If she brings her Delaware and Pennsylvania form to Maryland, the rest of the field has a tough task ahead of them.
The 1, Security Check, makes her first start since early September, without a workout since then. She’s been first or second in each of her last three, with figures ranging between 77 and 82, all very respectable figures. She figures to press the pace from the inside. The 5, Holiday Blues, made her first dirt start in almost a year last out, and it was a strong one, with an easy maiden victory. She earned a career-high 80, the best figure that she’s ever earned by thirteen points. That’s a very sharp improvement between ages two and three, and she’ll seek to keep up the good form here.
7- Staff Sgt Reckless
1- Security Check
5- Holiday Blues
Race 5: Claiming $15,000, 3yo and up, 5 ½ Furlongs (Grass)
An overflow field of grass sprinter claimers will take their crack at this one. The 5, Billy the Bull, has been a big favorite in his last few races, and there’s no reason to believe he won’t be favored once again here. He ran an eye-poppingly good 97 last out at Parx, taking a field of starter-allowance horses gate-to-wire. Earlier in the year, he ran spectacular figures of 98 and 99, but had since declined a bit from that good early-season form, running in the 80s. That last race, though, showed that he’s back, and if he’s back, he’s going to leave this field in the dust. He’ll pop out of the gate, go to the front, and not look back.
The 4, Respighi, takes a drop down from the n/w2x allowance level. He steadily runs in the 80s, which would at least get him a placing here. He won at the n/w1x level at Monmouth back in the fall of 2014, and since then has been losing consistently against n/w2x horses. Look for a better showing here. The 8, Golden Emperor, won against starter allowance foes last fall at Laurel, but, like Golden Emperor, has been over his head in his last few races. He drops from an off-the-board finish in a n/w3x allowance race. Earlier in the year, he ran a 90 while finishing seventh in a Pennsylvania-bred stakes race.
5- Billy the Bull
8- Golden Emperor
Race 6: Maiden Claiming $16,000, 2yo, 6 Furlongs
In his first race, the 1, Gadsby Tavern, was not well-supported, going off at 14/1 against $20,000 maiden claimers. Despite the lack of hoopla, he ran a decent race, finishing fourth while earning a strong 62. Since then, he turned in a four-furlong drill in 50.2 seconds, slightly faster than he worked when training up for his debut. That figure is already the best last-out mark in the field, and if he can improve off of it, it’s all the better.
The 2, Twist of Lime, is the most experienced member of the field, with four races to his name. He ran a very good 67 second-time-out at Timonium, which boded very well for his future. He declined very sharply when competing in a West Virginia-bred stakes race at Charles Town, a race where he broke slowly and never got into the running. He improved up to a 60 last out when hung wide over this Laurel track, so it looks like he’s regaining his form. The 7, Spring Ahead, debuted at Charles Town against West Virginia-bred maidens, where he earned a respectable 54 on debut. He gets first-time Lasix here.
1- Gadsby Tavern
2- Twist of Lime
7- Spring Ahead
Race 7: Allowance (n/w1x), 3yo and up, Fillies and Mares, 5 ½ Furlongs (Grass)
Last year, the 8, Lady Allegra, broke her maiden sprinting on the grass in Ireland. Shipping to the United States early in the year, she ran very well going 5 ½ furlongs at Laurel, leading late in the stretch before finishing second, with a strong 87. For a three-year-old in April, that’s a very promising figure. Unfortunately, she was laid up for most of the spring and summer, and did not return to the races until October 7. She disappointed, running a mere 73 while finishing up the track at this level. Now, though, she makes her second race off the layoff, a time where horses usually improve. Trainer Arnaud Delacour, always an astute grass trainer, is very sharp with horses making their second start off a layoff, winning at a 23% rate with such horses. She’ll have to find the promise that she displayed earlier in the year, but if she can do that, she’s going to be very tough.
The 7, My Sister Caro, missed by just a neck last out, rallying four-wide after sitting off the pace. She’s run figures as high as 84 this year, but sank to a 79 in that near-miss. The 9, Chloe’s White Soxs, has only raced once on the grass, but it was a promising race, burying a field of $8,000 claimers at Penn National over the summer. She’ll rate off the leaders today and hope to re-capture the magic against better horses.
8- Lady Allegra
7- My Sister Caro
9- Chloe’s White Soxs
Race 8: Allowance Optional Claiming (n/w2x), 3yo and up, 5 ½ Furlongs (Grass)
The 2, Good Feng Shui, has been running at this level all year long, and has been doing a good job at it. Last out, he defeated these types of horses by ¾ of a length, setting a clear early pace and battling for the victory late. He’s never been worse than third in five tries at the n/w2x level this year, peaking at a 92 three races ago, and earning an 87 last out. He generally stalks the pace and tries to make a middle move, but last out he was put right on the early lead, and it paid off, as he won. He gets a jockey switch to the usually astute Trevor McCarthy, so hopefully his early speed will be utilized.
The 7, MC Squared, led briefly last out, before being passed late and holding on for second, earning an 86. That was his first start cutting back to a sprint after a series of route tries, and it wound up being one of the best races he’s run all year. He’s another one who has bountiful early speed, so the 5 ½ furlong distance should suit him well. The 4, Not a Chance, was fourth last out, finishing behind a few of the rivals that he will encounter here. He makes his third start off the layoff, an angle that trainer Alan Goldberg hits at 27% with.
2- Good Feng Shui
7- MC Squared
4- Not a Chance
Race 9: Maiden Special Weight, 2yo, Fillies, 6 Furlongs
We’re back to the dirt and back to two-year-olds. The 7, Aiden’s Rag Doll, improved sharply in her second race last out, finishing a good second after breaking slowly and being forced wide. She ran an 84 there, an improvement of eleven points from her debut. I doubt any of the six first-time-starters in here are going to run that well in their debuts, and I’d be surprised if any of the others jumped up to run that high of a figure. If Aiden’s Rag Doll can keep up her good form, the third time should be the charm.
The 8, Lady Lindsey, has been working steadily at Fair Hill for months getting ready for her first race. The Motion-McCarthy trainer-jockey combo at Laurel is always a formidable one, and Motion is 15% with first-timers. The 3, Discreet Deceit, jumps to the dirt after two second-place finishes on the grass. She’s had good workouts since her last race, recently going four furlongs in a snappy 48.2 seconds.
7- Aiden’s Rag Doll
8- Lady Lindsey
3- Discreet Deceit
Race 10: Allowance Optional Claiming (n/w3x), 3yo and up, 1 1/16 Miles (Grass)
Today’s feature race is a very tough allowance field, in which all of the nine entered have recently run a race that could win. I wound up settling on the 4, Top of Mind, who’s taking a big drop in class. Last out, he was second in the Commonwealth Turf Cup at 29/1, running a figure of 91. He finished ahead of local hero Phlash Phelps, who finished fifth, and then came back to win the Maryland Million Turf last Saturday. Top of Mind’s race is made more impressive considering it was his first race in almost three months. Before going on a brief vacation, he won a n/w2x allowance by a nose, with a figure of 90. He didn’t skip a beat off the layoff, and shouldn’t skip any more today.
The 8, Schoolofhardrocks, made his last grass start in August, running a 91 when winning from off the pace at Monmouth. His return to the grass was delayed when his last race at Parx was washed away to the main track. He’s run other figures in the 90s earlier in the year, and trainer Willard Thompson is 21% with horses second off the layoff. That off-the-grass race might have been the perfect prep for today’s race. The 6, No Wunder, won twice over the Delaware grass at that meet. Last out, he closed from the back to take a n/w2x allowance at that track, with a near-career-high figure of 90. He’s going to sit off the pace and make one big move late.
4- Top of Mind
6- No Wunder
Race 11: Maiden Claiming $16,000, 3yo and up, Fillies and Mares, 1 1/16 Miles (Grass)
With this long card, the last race today will be run while fighting darkness. If the card is delayed for a little bit, it may serve the jockeys well to bring flashlights with them as they ride.
Anyway, I’ll take a shot with the 8, Strayana, in the finale. She was last seen at Gulfstream Park in late July, finishing third against $20,000 horses while running a 72. That almost mimics her start two back, where she ran a 76 while running a slightly closer third. She’s light on experience, which is not a bad thing. Unlike some of the others here, she hasn’t established that she’s a chronic loser. She’s had a five-furlong workout since the layoff, so she’s rounding back into racing form. If she can’t get it done today, but she runs well, back her for next out. I’ll keep a note of that myself.
The 2, Secondhand Angel, has been running well at sprints, and will stretch to a grass route for the first time. Last time on the grass, she closed from the back of the pack to finish a strong third, with a figure of 71. She’s had good late pace figures, so a route could suit her well. The 5, Lady Arielle’s Key, drops to the maiden claiming level on the grass for the first time, after being overwhelmed by maiden special weight company. She ran a 75 on debut back in the spring, but hasn’t been seen on the grass since Preakness day.
2- Secondhand Angel
5- Lady Arielle’s Key
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