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HRN Original Blog:
Maryland's Own GQ

Mid-Atlantic 3-year-olds in $125k Frank Whiteley, Jr. Stakes

Wear Orange and get in FREE! That’s how Laurel Park. is celebrating Florida’s Sunshine Millions Day being held at Gulfstream Park. Huh?! Both Laurel Park and Gulfstream Park are owned by The Stronach Group. Therefore, in an effort to boost attendance and handle at all Stronach Group owned tracks, the marketing department comes up with these type of promotions. 


Even though the Saturday card at Gulfstream Park offers the most stakes races of any track on this day, Laurel Park's feature is the $125k Frank Whiteley, Jr. Stakes for 3-year-olds and a Derby prep race takes place at Fair Grounds in New Orleans. A Kentucky Derby prep race? In January? Oh yeah! Much like the NFL season is a 4 month (i.e. 17 week) marathon to decide what 12 of the 32 teams make it to the post-season, the road to the Kentucky Derby is eerily similar. Ironically, the last game (aka Super Bowl) of the NFL season will be played in New Orleans. Whereas the first Derby prep of the 3-year-old season (having Derby points at stake) is also held in "The Big Easy". 


Four months prior to the Kentucky Derby (May 4th), the thousands of colts and fillies foaled in 2011 enter their 3-year-old “season”. In January, somewhere around 300-400 of them will be nominated to the Triple Crown series (Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes). Shortly thereafter, they begin their journey by running in the various prep races to see which ones are the best 20 who can gain a spot in the starting gate of the 139th Kentucky Derby.


On Saturday (Jan. 19th), nine potential Triple Crown nominees will run in the $200k Grade 3 LeComte Stakes at Fair Grounds. Run at a distance of 1 mile and 70 yards, scheduled Post Time for this Derby point system event is 5:55pm (EST). The 5-2 Morning Line (M/L) favorite is #6 – Avie’s Quality (Josie Carroll trained; ridden by Rosie Napravnik). This group of 9 appears to be a notch below the early top Derby contenders, as only 4 have run in a graded stakes race. They are... #3 –  Fear the Kitten (8-1; 5th in G2 KY Jockey Cup), #4 – Oxbow (8-1; 4th in G1 Cash Call Futurity), #8 – Circle Unbroken (7-2; won G3 Bashford Manor) and #9 – Ive Struck a Nerve (12-1; 9th in G1 Del Mar Futurity).


HOW I SEE IT: There’s a good mix of early speed, tactical speed (i.e. Stalkers) and Closers. That is, no one will steal this race on the front end, which should step it up nicely for one of the off-the-pace runners. Expect (#3) Fear the Kitten to vastly improve in his first start for trainer Michael Maker, being able to take advantage of the Fairgrounds long stretch with his late kick. #1 – Malibu High (5-1) is a perfect 2-for-2 while sprinting but the stretch out should be no problem for this son of Malibu Moon. If any of the early speed has the ability to go gate-to-wire, it’s (#8) Circle Unbroken, making his first start since August in order recuperate from an injury.


THE PLAY: $10 WPS #3 and $2 Exacta 1-3-8             




Recapping the previously posted selections at Laurel Park from Saturday, Jan. 12th had 7 winners from 9 races (but just 1 Top Selection; pay-offs shown in BOLD type) in part to a very “chalky” day, having $2 WIN pay-offs of $4.20 (2nd), $6.40 (3rd), $8.00 (4th), $4.20 (6th), $4.60 (7th) $3.40 (8th) and $7.20 (9th).


The BEST BET of the Day (3 0-0-0) Greek Thunder (5-2 PT; 9-2 M/L) was bet down to the 2nd choice, but did not deliver the goods. Saved ground in the early stages, but when asked for his best entering the stretch, failed to make a serious bid, and settled for 4th a half of a length behind the SHOW horse. 


The LONGSHOT PICK (3 0-0-0) Summer Court (12-1 PT; 8-1 M/L) outrun early, circled the field in 3 path and was outrun, missing a distant SHOW purse money by a length. Only the Superfecta bettors profited from her 4th place finish.


For Saturday races the weather forecast calls for Sunny skies with no chance of precipitation, meaning the track will be FAST at Laurel Park on Saturday Jan. 19th. Selections for all races posted were handicapped based on making multi-race wagers such as DOUBLE’s, Pick-3’s and Pick-4’s using all three (3) listed for each race in each leg.


1st race – $10,000 Claiming for 3 y.o. – about 1 1/16 miles

#2 – Forever Gallant  (4-1)

#4 – Cobbler’s Mark  (6-5)

#5 – Dreaming of Jazz (7-2)    


2nd race – $25,000 Maiden Claiming for 4 y.o. & up – 6 furlongs

#7 – Espiritu Libre (1-1)

#3 – Final Vinication  (8-5)

#8 – Turini  (10-1)


3rd race – $5,000 Claiming for 4 y.o. & up – 5½ furlongs

#2 – Peter’s Creek (5-2)

#6 – Speeding Spike  (8-5)   

#4 – Ready for Duty (6-1) 


4th race – $10,000 Maiden Claiming for fillies 3 y.o. – about 1 1/16 miles

#9 – Being Frugal (9-2)  

#1 – Fib  (6-5)   note: No longer entry as #1A - Purr and Prowl - scratched 

#4 – Bullette  (8-5)      


5th race – $25,000 Claiming N2L for 4 y.o. & up – 1 mile

#1 – In God’s Country (8-1)  $$$ LONGSHOT $$$

#2 – South in Dixie (4-1)

#3 – Kay One (20-1)    


6th race – $14,000 Claiming for 4 y.o. & up – 5½ furlongs     

#2 – Classic Wildcat (9-2)  *** BEST BET ***

#7 – It’s Never Too Late (3-1)

#8 – Lemon Juice (15-1)     


7th race – $50,000 Opt. Claiming N1X for fillies 3 y.o. – about 1 1/16 miles

#5 – Marcellina d’Oro (5-2)  

#4 – Hollywood Redhead (7-2)

#3 – Firenze Feeling (2-1)


8th race – $125k Frank Whiteley, Jr. Stakes for 3 y.o. – 7 furlongs

#9 – In the Fairway  (10-1)      $$$ LONGSHOT $$$ --- SCRATCHED

#4 – Keep the Canoli (8-1)

#1 – Patrick S (5-1)   

#10 – Hanky Doodle (15-1)  --- SCRATCHED

#7 – Saint Arbor (12-1) 


9th race – $8,000 Maiden Claiming for 4 y.o. & up – 5 furlongs

#7 – Go for Two  (5-2)

#3 – Storm Catlilly (1-1) 

#8 – Connor the Conch (6-1) 




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                Meet Gary Quill

  I am the most passionate person on the planet when it comes to thoroughbred horse racing! One sunny summer day in 1964 at Timonium Race Track is where my Dad and mentor introduced me to “The Sport of Kings”. Since that day, I have had the pleasure to visit over 40 different tracks across North America. Though an IT professional by trade, I’ve had a part-time gig with the Maryland Jockey Club since 1988.

here are thousands of rail-birds who claim to be great handicappers. Well, I don’t claim to be the best… just the most passionate and one that won’t tout “chalk”. Like a savvy stock broker, I look for value and often find it. Unlike the talking heads on horse racing television networks and the dozens of websites featuring handicapper’s opinions, I’m ACCOUNTABLE. That is, good or bad, you’ll always know how my previously posted picks performed along with a running record of my BEST BET and LONGSHOT Play of the Day selections for Maryland tracks (Laurel and Pimlico) at TheRacingBiz, see "The GQ Approach".

   In addition to focusing on the Maryland thoroughbred racing circuit, each year I follow the Derby Trail and post “GQ’s Derby Double Dozen” in early February. 

   My personal mission is to rejuvenate interest in thoroughbred horse racing. Being able to share my energy, thoughts and opinions on this sport via HRN will certainly help the cause.


"I lost $2 at Santa Anita and I've spent $3 million trying to get it back." - Mickey Rooney

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