Photo: Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club
Last weekend, Laurel Park was supposed to hold their annual Winter SprintFest. Unfortunately, Old Man Winter blew into the Mid-Atlantic dumping over a foot of snow along the I-95 corridor 48 hours prior to the Saturday 10-race card, which featured the $300,000 G2 Barbara Fritchie Handicap.
Thankfully, the Maryland Jockey Club management decided to reschedule the Fritchie for this Saturday (Feb. 22nd). In a perfect world, all ten (10) runners who were originally entered would have been re-entered. But we do not live in a perfect world. After four defections, but one addition, according to my third grade Math, that means seven (7) fillies and mares passed the entry box.
#1 - Centrique (2-1) V. Carrasco / M. Wolfson
#2 - Flattering Bea (15-1) S. Russell / C. Pickett
#3 - La Verdad (9-5) J. Ortiz / L. Rice
#4 - My Wandy’s Girl (3-1) R. Maragh / M. Hushion
#5 - Merry Meadow (6-1) F. Boyce / M. Hening
#6 - Baragah (15-1) A. Cintron / K. McLaughlin
#7 - Access to Charlie (20-1) J. Pimentel / L. Murray
The defectors were Parx Racing-based Winning Image and Villette who are not permitted to leave the Philadelphia track due to an ordered quarantine after an equine herpes outbreak. More Than a Cruise will be pointed to the Conniver Stakes at Laurel on March 22, a race where she finished second a year ago. Trainer Charlie Williams decided against running longshot Sunlit City.
The addition to the field is the Mark Hennig trained Merry Meadow (6-1). The speedy daughter of Henny Hughes has finished in the money in 17 of her 18 career starts, including an allowance victory at Aqueduct earlier this month.
“The quarantine at Parx made me look at the race since it isn’t as tough as it was a week ago,” Hennig said. “It took her awhile to break her maiden (11th career race) but she always ran hard. She turned the corner mentally last summer when she won that first race. She has also filled out and has changed a lot physically since last year at this time. She is a blue-collar kind of filly. She gives 100 percent every time, which is kind of unique.”
Edgard Zayas was originally listed to pilot Centirque last weekend, but is replaced by Eclipse Award winning apprentice Victor Carrasco. Zayas elected to remain in south Florida where he has 4 mounts, one being on C. Zee in the G2 Fountain Of Youth.
HOW I SEE IT: There’s no shortage of speed here. M/L favorite La Verdad will certainly get the jump on her competition, as Centrique, Merry Meadow and Baragah will pressure her through the early fractions while My Wandy’s Girl and Access to Charlie take up the chase in mid-pack leaving Flattering Bea the best view of her six rivals.
The problem for La Verdad is the Laurel Park surface. It has not been playing to speed as does the Aqueduct inner track or the Gulfstream Park speedway. In the 3 racing days this week, only 9 of 28 races were won in gate to wire fashion. Look for the extra furlong to take its toll late on the favorite, has she’ll concede her lead late to My Wandy’s Girl and Centrique. Both put in sharp works on Tuesday and were the only ones in here to work this past week.
THE PLAY: $10 WP #4 and $2 Ex Box 1-3-4
Laurel Park recently expanded their live racing to four days a week (Wed. – Sat.). The Saturday ten-race card also includes the $100,000 John B. Campbell Handicap.
Recapping my previous blog posted selections at Laurel Park selections from Saturday, February 8th, as races last Saturday (Feb. 15th) were cancelled, had 6 winners from 9 races (2 Top Selections; payoffs in BOLD) having $2 WIN pay-offs of $6.80 (1st race), $11.20 (2nd), $4.60 (4th), $13.80 (5th), $4.40 (6th) and $22.40 (8th).
The BEST BET of the Day (5: 1-0-2) Brew Blessing (1st race: 3-1 M/L; 2-1 PT) four wide on the turn, angled out in upper stretch, remained on her left lead, closed determinedly, took the lead inside the sixteenth pole and drew out to win by 2¼ lengths, returning $6.80 to WIN, $4.20 to PLACE and $3.00 to SHOW.
The LONGSHOT PICK (5: 2-2-0) Onegreatstep (5th race: 8-1 M/L; 5-1 PT) patiently rated well off the lead, eased out to the six path turning for home, advanced outside horses to take command near the eighth pole and pulled away under some encouragement to win by 7¾ lengths (aka Won for fun!) returning $13.80 to WIN, $6.60 to PLACE and $4.00 to SHOW.
FYI – the BEST BET of the Day selection will never be a M/L favorite and the LONGSHOT PICK will simply be the runner having the highest M/L odds among my top picks for an entire card.
PLEASE NOTE: Statistics provided for the BEST BET and LONGSHOT PICK in parentheses represent the Number of Picks: Wins-Places-Shows. For example, the BEST BET (10: 1-2-3) was picked 10 times resulting in 1 winner, 2 places and 3 shows. In the past, I would reset these numbers at the start of each meet. For 2014, I reset these numbers on Jan. 1st in order to chart results on a yearly basis.
Selections for Saturday, Feb. 22nd at Laurel Park posted below are based on a FAST dirt track as the forecast calls for sunny skies with temps in the mid-50’s. Selections 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 – $5,000 Claiming for 4 y.o. and up – 1 1/8 miles
#7 – Aridus (3-1)
#5 – Bet the Cat (10-1)
#6 – Silent Shot (8-1)
2nd race – $5,000 Claiming for 4 y.o. and up – 5½ furlongs
#3 – Charmed by Danger (6-1) $$$ LONGSHOT PLAY $$$
#5 – Deb’s Trip (9-5)
#7 – Hope and Mercy (5-1)
3rd race – $5,000 Claiming for 4 y.o. and up – 6 furlongs
#5 – Pot of Gold (3-1)
#6 – Tripplite (12-1)
#8 – One Roll (5-1)
4th race – $15,000 Claiming N3L for F&M 4 y.o. and up – 7 furlongs
#1 – Thepowersthatbe (8-5)
#7 – Flashy Eyed Pearl (5-1)
#4 – Sandbag (5-2)
5th race – $42,000 Allowance N1X for 4 y.o. and up – 6 furlongs
#6 – Toni With An I (6-1)
#3 – D D Renegade (7-2)
#2 – Dear to All (5-2)
6th race – $100,000 John B. Campbell Handicap for 4 y.o. and up – 1 1/8 miles
#1 – Managed Account (3-5)
#3 – Mercenary (6-1)
#4 – Behemoth (6-1)
7th race – $42,000 Allowance N1X for 4 y.o. and up – 7 furlongs
#8 – Ithastobegeorge (2-1)
#3 – Volastic (7-2)
#5 – Coach (20-1)
8th race – $42,000 Allowance N1X for 4 y.o. and up – 1 1/16 miles
#2 – Springcourt (7-2)
#5 – Greek Thunder (5-1)
#3 – Respectful Ed (15-1)
9th race – $300,000 G2 Barbara Fritchie Handicap for F&M 4 y.o. and up – 7 furlongs
#4 – My Wandy’s Girl (3-1) *** BEST BET ***
#1 – Centrique (2-1)
#3 – La Verdad (9-5)
10th race – $12,500 Maiden Claiming for 3 y.o. fillies – 5½ furlongs
#1 – Artic Bird (7-2)
#3 – Josie’s Devil (4-1)
#2 – Halos and Angels (10-1)