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HRN Original Blog:
Maryland's Own GQ

Which Dash For Ben's Cat at Laurel?

Ben's Cat wins 2013 Jim McKay Turf Sprint.
Photo: Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club


The 11-race card on Saturday at Laurel Park is billed as “The Fall Festival of Racing”. There will be seven (7) stakes races, five (5) of which will be contested on the turf.

Ironically Ben’s Cat, considered one of (if not) the best turf sprinter in the country may run on the natural dirt surface in the 22nd running of the $350,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel Park.

Owner-trainer King T. Leatherbury cross-entered Ben’s Cat into the De Francis Dash and the $100,000 Laurel Dash, a race he won two years ago. The 7-year-old is 8-of-12 on the dirt, including three stakes scores, though 13 of his last 14 starts have been on the grass. The son of Parker’s Storm Cat has 14 turf stakes wins on his resume.

Besides saddling over 6,400 winners, Leatherbury is quite the handicapper. He’ll assess the field in both races before deciding on which race Ben’s Cat will actually run. Food for thought: the runner-up purse in the De Francis is more than the winners share in the Laurel Dash.

If Ben’s Cat (9-2 M/L) runs in the De Francis on dirt, the 7-year-old gelding will break from the #5 post and face eight (8) foes. The 9-5 morning line favorite is #6 – Sage Valley who exits 3 consecutive graded stakes efforts. The Rudy Rodriguez runner was 5th beaten 6½ lengths in the G1 Forego at Saratoga just 3 weeks ago. Cornelio Velasquez will be in the irons.

Two other top contenders, #1 – Saturday’s Charm (5-1) and #2 – Brigand (6-1) will ship in from the Empire State. The Steve Asmussen trainee “Charm” will need an honest pace to be a factor late under Rosie Napravnik. Brigand, conditioned by Bob Baffert will be part of that pace along with #8 – Immortal Eyes (8-1) looking for his first win on the Laurel Park oval in his sixth try and #7 – Il Vilano (6-1), who has a win and placed twice in 3 efforts locally.

#3 – Service for Ten (10-1) has the best shot at pulling an upset. Starting his career in a $10,000 maiden claimer, then claimed next outing for $25,000 by (owner) Mark Lapidus. The potential he and conditioner Damon Dilodovico saw in this 4-year-old gelding has come to fruition as he’s answered every bell while climbing the class ladder. Two who round out the field and will need to bring their “A” game just to get a piece of the purse are #4 – Royal Currier (30-1), ninth in this event last year and #8 – Broad Rule (20-1), most recently 3rd of six in the $50,000 Damitrius Stakes at Delaware Park on Sept. 4th.

Throughout the Laurel Park Fall Meet, I’ll post full card selections only for Saturday race days, but could not resist capping the Opening Day (Thursday) card.

Recapping Laurel Park’s Opening Day (Thursday) 9-race card had 7 winners (5 Top Selections in BOLD type) having $2 WIN pay-offs of $3.80 (1st race), $11.60 (2nd), $4.40 (3rd), $4.60 (4th), $3.80 (6th), $6.00 (7th) and $10.20 (9th).

BEST BET (1 1-0-0): Key to a Cure (4th race 3-1 M/L; 2-1 PT) under a snug hold prompting the pace outside GREENTREE ROAD into the first turn, allowed that one to go on down the backstretch, edged back closer while remaining within himself nearing the quarter pole, responded when set down inside three sixteenths marker, forged to command nearing the eighth pole then steadily drew clear under a drive to victory returning $4.60 to WIN, $3.60 to PLACE and $3.20 to SHOW.

Longshot Play (1 0-0-0): Bet the Cat (1st race 6-1 M/L; 9-1 PT) saved ground, swung wide in upper stretch and failed to menace to finish 4th nearly 7 lengths behind the winner.

Selections for Saturday, September 21st are below. If need be, an update will be posted after early scratches are announced on race day morning. Selections for all races posted were handicapped based on making multi-race wagers such as DOUBLE’s, Pick-3’s and Pick-4’s.

1st race – $42,000 Allowance N1X for 3 y.o. and up – 1 1/16 miles
#5 – Greek Default (12-1) $$$ LONGSHOT PLAY $$$
#4 – Gully (2-1)
#3 – Q’s Jack (8-1)

2nd race – $100,000 Laurel Futurity for 2 y.o. – 5½ furlongs on TURF
#6 – Yes I’m Lucky (2-1)
#1 – Tiger Bourbon (9-5)
#8 – Gallivanting (6-1)

3rd race – $5,000 Claiming for 3 y.o. and up – 7 furlongs
#3 – Tonight At Noon (5-2)
#9 – Premium Justice (8-1)
#6 – Cherokee Colours (8-1)

4th race – $100,000 Jameela Stakes for F&M 3 y.o. and up – 6 furlongs on TURF
#2 – Colony Club (8-1)
#4 – Madame Giry (9-5)
#9 – Irish Exchange (12-1)

5th race – $20,000 Claiming for 3 y.o. and up – 1 mile on TURF
#7 – Last Empire (15-1)
#11 – Brand New Moves (20-1)
#5 – Royal Hill (15-1)

6th race – $100,000 Selima Stakes for 2 y.o. fillies – 5½ furlongs on TURF
#4 – Chase My Tail (5-1)
#5 – Fancy Boss (3-1)
#2 – Inspired Say Eye (20-1)

7th race – $100,000 Lady Baltimore Stakes for F&M 3 y.o. and up – 1 1/16 miles on TURF
#10 – Idle Talk (20-1)
#11 – Namaskara (5-1)
#7 – Malibu Yankee (8-1)

8th race – $100,000 Laurel Dash for 3 y.o. and up – 6 furlongs on TURF
#6 – Night Officer (5-1)
#10 – Ben's Cat (4-5)
#5 – Super Chunky (8-1)

9th race – $100,000 Laurel Turf Cup for 3 y.o. and up – 1½ miles on TURF
#13 – Eagle Poise (6-1)   ***  BEST BET  ***
  #5 - School House --- SCRATCHED --- 
#1 – Atigun (5-2)
#10 – Lake Drop (7-2)

10th race – $350,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash – 6 furlongs
#3 – Service for Ten (10-1)
#6 – Sage Valley (9-5)
#2 – Brigand (6-1)

11th race – $8,000 Maiden Claiming for F&M 3 y.o. and up – 7 furlongs
#5 – Saratoga Sunrise (4-1)
#3 – Who Dat Dini (6-1)
#4 – Last Patch of Sun (6-1)

Good Luck!

 

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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.

 T
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.

   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.

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