The Conniver and Harrison E. Johnson Memorial Stakes are featured on the nine-race card at Laurel Park on Saturday, the former for Maryland-bred fillies and mares and the latter for three year olds and upward.
Photo: Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club
Tell a Great Story is the 7-5 morning line favorite in the 7-furlong Conniver. The Bluegrass Cat filly won her debut race at Laurel, later scored in the Go For Wand at Delaware and last raced in the Delaware Oaks (G2) on July 13. She has eight official works at Payson Park in Florida this year in anticipation of her 4-year-old debut. Forest Boyce has the mount for trainer Ignacio Correas.
“We shipped her to Saratoga but she broke out with hives which took us two months to get rid of,” Correas said. “So we decided to give her some time off and mature. We ended up being very lucky when we decided to come to Florida for the winter with all the weather issues in Maryland. She has been training well. I don’t like the inside post or think the distance is her game but we have her where we want and she should have a good effort.”
”It is a small field but very competitive,” added Correas. “There a couple of fillies who can really run. This race is a starting point for us. We are looking forward to this year. We think she should be even better.”
For the Harrison E Johnson Memorial Stakes, a total of five shippers from New York, Pennsylvania and Louisiana are among the eight entered in the 1 1/8 mile contest.
Mr Palmer is the 5-2 program choice. The son of Pulpit won his only start at Laurel, the Private Terms Stakes last March at Saturday’s distance. The Bill Mott trainee enters off a strong 1-3/4 length victory at Aqueduct. Julian Pimentel has the mount.
Bandbox, hero of the General George Handicap (G3) on February 17 in his second start off a 17-month layoff, is the 7-2 third choice. The son of Tapit has a world of stakes experience with added money victories during his two and three-year-old campaigns. Xavier Perez rides for Rodney Jenkins.
“He has good numbers,” Perez said. “Looking at the race, if he runs like he did last time we will be tough to beat. He is one of the horses to beat. There are some horses in here with early speed. Hopefully we will sit off the pace and make one move at the end. He showed so much potential to start his career then had problems on two different occasions. Rodney Jenkins has done an amazing job with him and the sky is the limit if he can keep him healthy.”
Selections for these two stakes races are included with the entire Saturday 9-race card at Laurel Park below.
On Sunday, Sunland Park in New Mexico host the $800,000 Sunland Derby (G3). A field of nine (9) will head postward to travel 1 1/8 miles over the dirt oval vying for precious Derby points. Fifty (50) points to the winner with twenty (20) points to the runner-up, third is worth ten (10) points and five (5) points awarded to the fourth place finisher.
Here’s how these 3-year-olds will break from the gate for Sunland Park’s 11th race on Sunday. Approximate Post Time is 7:40pm EDT...
#1 - Bourbonize (6-1) J. Vasquez / K. Gorder
#2 - Garen (10-1) V. Espinoza / P. Miller
#3 - Commissioner (7-2) J. Velasquez / T. Pletcher
#4 - Global Strike (8-1) J. Castellano / T. Pletcher
#5 - Tanzanite Cat (6-1) N. Arroyo, Jr. / C. Autrey
#6 - Lawley’s Goal (20-1) I. Rosendo / K. Eikleberry
#7 - Midnight Hawk (5-2) M. Smith / B. Baffert
#8 - Rebranded (12-1) R. Eikleberry / J. Evans
#9 - Chitu (4-1) M. Garcia / B. Baffert
HOW I SEE IT: Last year on Sunland Derby day, three (3) track records were established. As I recall the dirt strip was speed favoring as well and Bob Baffert entered two runners… Shakin It Up who was the M/L favorite and lightly raced Governor Charlie, who was the heavy betting favorite and won.
It might be Ground Hog Day (all over again) as Baffert starts two with Midnight Hawk the probable betting favorite, but Chitu might get to the Winners Circle. There’s no shortage of early speed which should benefit Commissioner, as long as the track does not have a speed bias. Bourbonize was a bit unlucky in the FOY, so he could be a factor in the exotics.
THE PLAY: $10 WP #9 and $2 Ex Box 1-3-9
Recapping previous blog posted selections at Laurel Park from Saturday, March 15th, was a perfect, but chalky 10 winners from 10 races (4 Top Selection; payoffs in BOLD) having $2 WIN pay-offs of $10.60 (1st race), $3.20 (2nd), $12.60 (3rd), $6.20 (4th), $3.20 (5th), $2.60 (6th), $14.00 (7th), $3.40 (8th), $3.40 (9th) and $3.40 (10th).
The BEST BET of the Day (8: 2-2-2) Jump Two (8th race: 5-2 M/L; Did Not Start) was scratched after selections were posted.
The LONGSHOT PICK (9: 3-4-0) Road Boss (4th race: 5-1 M/L; 8-5 PT) this first time starter got bet early and often as he was sent off the 8-5 Post Time favorite, was hustled up soon after the break and gained a short lead between rivals, took outside pressure while being pushed along, shook clear when put to a strong drive in upper stretch, wandered outward a bit near the sixteenth maker, corrected with the right stick, battled gamely but just could not turn away the winner, missing by a head to return $3.60 to PLACE and $3.00 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, Mar. 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 – $8,000 Maiden Claiming N2L for 4 y.o. and up – 1 mile
#2 – Busterrama (6-5)
#5 – Second Round (6-1)
#4 – Wildly Leaks (8-1)
2nd race – $15,000 Claiming N3L for 4 y.o. and up – 5½ furlongs
#1 – Cheops (7-2) *** BEST BET ***
#3 – Trippi’s Secret (3-5)
#5 – Hard Play (8-1)
3rd race – $16,000 Claiming for 4 y.o. and up – 1 1/16 miles
#1/1A – Romp City / Banjammer (6-5)
#6 – Stand Proud (3-1)
#4 – Lunar Rock (10-1)
4th race – $25,000 Claiming N2L for F&M 4 y.o. and up – 5½ furlongs
#5 – Read All About It (8-1) $$$ LONGSHOT PLAY $$$
#3 – Simmadownnow (4-5)
#4 – Nospeightintended (7-5)
5th race – $5,000 Claiming for 4 y.o. and up – 5½ furlongs
#3 – Peaceadaaction (7-2)
#8 – Don’s Honour (5-1)
#4 – Pot of Gold (3-1)
6th race – $100,000 Conniver Stakes for MD-bred F&M 3 y.o. and up – 7 furlongs
#2 – More Than a Cruise (8-5)
#1 – Tell a Great Story (7-5)
#4 – Brenda’s Way (4-1)
7th race – $5,000 Claiming N3L for F&M 4 y.o. and up – 7 furlongs
#8 – Exhilarate (2-1)
#6 – Glimpse (8-5)
#2 – Tribal Rights (5-1)
8th race – $100,000 Harrison E. Johnson Memorial Stakes for 3 y.o. and up – 1 1/8 miles
#6 – Mr. Palmer (5-2)
#3 – Indian Jones (4-1)
#4 – Bandbox (7-2)
9th race – $8,000 Maiden Claiming for F&M 4 y.o. and up – 5½ furlongs
#3 – Doubleblackdiamond (7-5)
#4 – Latasense (12-1)
#1 – Yellow Sky (15-1)