Free Picks & Analysis — Who Do Ya Like?
Saturday, September 10, 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.
At long last, we’ve arrived at one of the highlights of my racing season: the first Saturday of the Laurel Park fall season! A spectacular eleven-race card will comprise the action on this late-summer day, with six stakes races scheduled.
For anyone in the area, check out the “Hops & Horses” Fest going on that day. There’ll be craft beer, beer pong, and cornhole, among other fun activities, from 1:00-6:00. Tickets start at $15, with a $40 bonus package including unlimited beer samples and special early admission.
WEATHER FORECAST: 91*F, Partly Cloudy
WAGERING NOTES: Pick 4s on races 2-5, races 4-7, races 8-11, pick 5s on races 1-5, races 7-11
Race 1: Maiden Claiming $10,000, 3yo and up, 6 Furlongs
Anyone familiar with the Maryland circuit has probably encountered the 9, Drive At Nite, plenty of times. This gelding is coming off two straight second-place finishes, both of them coming at this $10,000 level. Last out, he was far off the early pace, but rallied late to get second at 5 ½ furlongs. Two races ago, he was fanned four-wide in the stretch after breaking from near the outside in a fourteen-horse field, and lost by just a half-length. Despite those obstacles, his brisnet figures in both of those races were very strong; he earned two 69s. No one else in the race has run better than a 65 in their last two. While he may be at a pace disadvantage here, Drive At Nite will be closing well, and as long as he’s able to get a good trip, he looks pretty good here.
The 3, Fight for Freedom, ran a very strong 74 when losing by a neck two races ago at Pimlico. His two races outside of Maryland weren’t as good, but now he’s dropping to a career-low class level. The 5, Creepy the Crab, ran a 65 in his last race while finishing third at Timonium. He was last and wide early in that race, an impossible position to win a race from at the big T. The sweeping Laurel track should play to his favor more.
9- Drive at Nite
3- Fight for Freedom
5- Creepy the Crab
Race 2: Allowance Optional Claiming (n/w1x), 2yo, 6 Furlongs
In a two-year-old race like this, the competition can be very tough to judge. Except for the overmatched Gerald Brooks coupled entry, all of the runners in here have competed only once, when they all broke their maiden at first asking. Most of them have similar form lines, with figures in the upper-70s. The 3, No Dozing, is a noteworthy exception. He certainly didn’t doze in his debut, blowing away the competition at Delaware Park to earn a dazzling figure of 87. That’s eight points better than the next-best last-out figure in the field. Now, it’s true that most of these horses have only run one time, and as such as susceptible to sharp increases or decreases in ability. However, the facts remain that no one has been able to run a figure that high, except for No Dozing. He’ll be the play.
The 4, Thurman Merman, had a very interesting debut. He opened up a huge lead going five furlongs at Delaware, setting blazing fractions, before almost getting run down late in the stretch when he stopped to a walk. He proved that he has a lot of early speed, but running off like that will not work well against the classier rivals that he’ll see today. This will be his first start in three months, so hopefully he’s learned to relax a bit more since that debut, and can control his early speed. The 5, Deco Czar, broke his maiden easily at Charles Town, winning by almost seven lengths at 1/5 odds. Like Thurman Merman, he opened up a big early lead and never looked back, but he didn’t slow down nearly as dramatically as Thurman Merman did. He’ll hope to stretch out his speed over more than 4 ½ furlongs. J.D. Acosta, who rode him in his debut, comes from West Virginia for the mount.
3- No Dozing
4- Thurman Merman
5- Deco Czar
Race 3: Maiden Claiming $16,000, 3yo and up, 1 1/16 Miles (Grass)
You may wonder, when handicapping this race, why all the jockeys are unrecognizable, and why all their weights are so high. This is because this is an amateur riders race.
Anyway, my pick will be the 10, Dixie Knight. He struggled earlier in the year, and was dismissed at 39/1 at this level two races ago. He ran well there, finishing a solid fourth and earning a 73. Last out, he ran second at 15/1, running a very strong 74. Trainer Hamilton Smith had a very good summer meet, hitting at 17%, with a positive ROI on his grass runners. I don’t expect him to go off at 15/1 or greater again; I’d like to think that by this point, the public has caught on to this horse’s quality. If you can get a price on him, however, take advantage. He may wind up being a great value.
The 2, Mojo’s Golden Hawk, has run in the 70s in all three of his races since being stretched out to a route. Two races ago, he had a post position near the inside, stalked the pace from the rail, and wound up a good second. Something similar can definitely happen here. The 12, Patriot Saint, was third last out after checking in the stretch. Two starts back, he clipped heels in the stretch when interfered with. He’s run up to a 78 in the past, so if he can avoid traffic, he’ll make noise in this one.
10- Dixie Knight
2- Mojo’s Golden Hawk
12- Patriot Saint
11- Runaway Dude
14- Renegade River
9- I Got Class
Race 4: Maiden Claiming $16,000, 2yo, 5 ½ Furlongs
The 6, Hosway, gets my nod. He debuted at Timonium last out, where, despite two good workouts coming into the race, he was sent off at a long price of 21/1. He fell far off the pace, which, as previously noted, is a death sentence at Timonium. Given the circumstances, he ran about at well as he could, rallying to lose by only 1 ½ lengths, while earning a strong 65. With that race under his belt, he’s shown some promise, and figures to improve even more when racing over a fairer track.
The 7, Game Winning Shot, is by far the most experienced horse in the race; this will be his fifth race. He’s coming off a third-place finish at Delaware, where he checked repeatedly while earning a career-best 64. From four starts, he’s had one second and three thirds, so he’s always in the mix, but hasn’t been able to get the job done yet. We’ll see if today’s the day. The 5, Maryland’s Best, has been working well since his rocky debut, and his pace figures put him in contention to get the early lead.
7- Game Winning Shot
5- Maryland’s Best
Race 5: Laurel Futurity, 2yo, 5 ½ Furlongs (Grass)
Once one of the premier two-year-old races in the country, the Laurel Futurity has been won by greats such as Secretariat, Affirmed, Riva Ridge, Devil’s Bag, Tapit, and Barbaro. While I doubt there is anyone of that quality in this year’s field, it’s nonetheless an entertaining bunch of eight. The 7, Greatbullsoffire, will be, in my opinion, the one to put his name next to those greats on the list of winners. He broke his maiden over the lawn at Laurel over the summer, battling down the stretch to win by a neck and run a very solid 78. He validated that form by winning the Strike Your Colors Stakes on the dirt at Delaware, earning a sparkling 91. The second-place finisher in that race, Brahms Secret, returned to win a maiden race at Monmouth Park going away. He’s got class, grass ability, and he hasn’t made a mistake in his career so far.
The 8, Hembree, broke his maiden when rallying from the back of the pack at Saratoga, running a field-best 79. Interestingly, he has not worked since that August 24 victory. He will also have to show some more early foot, to contend with his classier rivals. The 6, Undulated, also rallied from far behind to break his maiden at Laurel. He’s been working steadily since then, including a workout on grass. Trainer Cathal Lynch is a strong 3-for-9 with horses making their second grass start.
4- White Tights
Race 6: Selima Stakes, 2yo, Fillies, 5 ½ Furlongs (Grass)
The fillies take their turn in the Selima Stakes. The 8, Fly, is coming off a maiden win here at Laurel, sitting off a clear early leader, then rolling by to win by ½ a length, earning a strong 85. In that race, she ran down Consulting, another one of her big rivals here. There’s a lot of horses, including Consulting, who figure to go for the early lead, so Fly should be able to rate off the speed once again and go on by. If she can duplicate her debut, that may be good enough to win it. If she can improve off of that debut—and of course, young horses are bound for improvement at this point in their careers—she’s going to be tough to topple.
The 1, Zero Zee, had a rough trip in her debut at Saratoga, but regrouped enough to win by ¾ of a length and earn an 83. She’s another one working strongly coming in here. The 9, Consulting, as previously noted, set a speedy early pace last out, before tiring and being caught by Fly. That was Consulting’s second career start, and it represented a 21-point improvement over her debut. She’ll hope to temper her speed a bit more.
1- Zero Zee
4- Harlands Thunder
6- Happy Mesa
Race 7: Lady Baltimore Stakes, 3yo, Fillies and Mares, 1 1/16 Miles (Grass)
Were it not for two lengths or so in either of her last two races, the 4, Onus, would be a very heavy favorite in this race. She’s coming off a fourth-place finish in the Ballston Spa Stakes at Saratoga, where she was in the hunt late before finishing behind Lady Eli and Strike Charmer. She did finish ahead of grade 1 winner Miss Temple City, while earning an excellent 100. Two races ago, she led late in the Diana Stakes, before tiring to finish sixth, earning a 98. Both of those figures are superior to anything earned by most of her competition. She also has the best early and middle pace figures by a longshot, so she’s going to be coming with a big middle move. If her rivals can’t keep up, she’s got this race in her back pocket.
The 5, Tuttipaesi, is also getting a lot of class relief. She was most recently seen finishing fourth in the Beverly D. Stakes at Arlington Park, where she earned a 97. Three races ago, she won the Santa Ana Stakes at Santa Anita Park, earning an excellent 92. She figures to be rating off of the leaders. The 2, Vielsalm, cuts back in distance after a disappointing eighth-place finish in the 1 ½ mile Waya Stakes at Saratoga. She’s an impressive 4-for-9 lifetime over the Laurel grass.
6- Catcha Rising Star
7- McArthur Parkway
Race 8: Shine Again Stakes, 3yo and up, Fillies and Mares, 7 Furlongs
The only dirt stakes race of the day features an oddity: the 3, Theophilia, is exiting a race also called the Shine Again Stakes, run at Saratoga. Who knew that the fine sprinting star of the early 2000s had two races named for her?
Anyway, the 8, Four Inch Heels, will be my play here. She was last seen winning a three-horse allowance race at Parx, a race washed off the grass. Going beyond that, she was fourth in the Dashing Beauty Stakes at Delaware, earning a 92. Prior to that, she just missed in an open allowance going seven furlongs at Parx, running an excellent 98. She’s been coming close at sprints all year, and is one of the few in the race to be able to consistently pull off figures in the 90s. She also has great late pace figures: the best in the field, in fact. Expect her to rate off the pace and roll by everyone in the stretch.
The 5, Boheme de Lavi, ran a 92 last out while finishing third over an off-track here at Laurel, a point off of her best figure of the year. She combines both good early and late pace figures, and has been working bullets since her last race, which was about a month ago. The 4, La Madrina, beat up a n/w3x allowance field at Pimlico two races ago, earning a strong 96. She disappointed in the Honorable Miss Stakes last out, but should enjoy some class relief today.
8- Four Inch Heels
5- Boheme de Lavi
Race 9: Laurel Turf Cup, 3yo and up, 1 ½ Miles (Grass)
At a niche distance like 1 ½ miles, it helps to find a horse that you know will run well at the distance. The 1, Renown, won a stakes race at 12 furlongs two races ago, winning the Cape Henlopen Stakes at Delaware with a strong 94. Last out, he finished third while going 1 5/8 miles in the John’s Call Stakes at Saratoga, running an even better 100. Last year, his two victories came at 1 ¼ miles and 1 ½ miles, respectively, while he broke his maiden in Ireland going 1 7/16 miles two years ago. This is a horse with proven form over long distances, and will relish the long going today. He’s also shown early speed in the past, something severely lacking in this race, and has the inside post, ensuring a ground-saving trip. He should win easily.
The 4, Generous Kitten, takes a drop in class after running off the board in the American St. Leger Stakes at Arlington and the Singspiel Stakes at Woodbine. He ran figures in the 90s in both races. Four races ago, he earned a 93 while winning at 1 7/16 miles at Gulfstream. He figures to be coming from far off the pace. The 5, Moss Code, ran a career-high 96 when stretching out to a three-turn race for the first time in the John’s Call Stakes last out. He was a career maiden before scoring in two out of his last four races.
4- Generous Kitten
5- Moss Code
4- Generous Kitten
Race 10: Laurel Dash, 3yo and up, 6 Furlongs (Grass)
A big field of eleven, including the top four finishers in the Mister Diz Stakes a few weeks ago, will assemble here for the final stakes of the day. The 2, Mosler, went off as the heavy favorite in a n/w3x race at Saratoga last out. He finished fifth, but still ran a very good figure of 93. In fact, that’s only one point off the best last-out figure in the race. He’s been spending a good amount of the year in stakes company, earning a 97 when finishing fifth in the Jaipur Stakes at Belmont Park. He figures to sit off of the early leaders, then pounce on them on the turn. With his strong middle and late pace figures, that should be enough for a winning move.
The 3, Sallal, made a big four-wide move to win his American debut at Laurel, earning a strong 93. He’s also going to stalking the pace, and will hope to outkick Mosler to get the job done. The 10, Spring to the Sky, is the defending champion, winning this race last year with a figure of 87. He’s run better than that in his last five races, most recently earning a 94 when missing by less than two lengths in the Troy Stakes. He’s figures to be one of the pacesetters.
10- Spring to the Sky
13- Weekend Hideaway
6- Triple Burner
Race 11: Claiming $7,500, 3yo and up, Fillies and Mares, 5 ½ Furlongs (Grass)
We’ll wrap things up with some bottom claimers sprinting on the grass. The 6, Chesapeake Spring, takes a big drop from the n/w1x level, where she most recently finished third while earning a 79. Prior to that, she had run figures of 83, 79, and 80, all of which would probably be good enough to win this race, considering no one else in the race can consistently run a 79 or above. Anywhere near her 9/5 morning line would be good end-of-the-day gift.
The 11, Lovely Elle, was third at this level last out after being on the pace. She’s run a 78 and a 79 in her last two, both of which put in the mix. The 4, Sprinklemiddle Ez, was the leader in that duel, and led almost all the way around before losing by two lengths, half a length ahead of Lovely Elle. That was easily her best race within her last few, but if she can get a relatively comfortable lead, she’ll have a good shot to duplicate that race.
6- Chesapeake Spring
11- Lovely Elle
4- Sprinklemiddle Ez
10- Heavenly Perfect
14- Chloe’s White Soxs
9- I O Ines
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