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Will "Lightning" Strike at Laurel Park in the Miracle Wood?

Joint Custody MDJC
Photo: Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club

On Saturday (Jan. 25th), top billing as far as Derby preps go to the $400k Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream. More on that one later, but at Laurel Park, eight (8) three-year-olds will battle in the $100k Miracle Wood Stakes run at a distance of one mile, is Race 6 on the nine race card.

Todd Pletcher ships in Master Lightning (#6; 8-1 M/L) who has proven in three G2 events that he’s not up to that level of competition, finishing no better than 5th while losing by a combined 26¾ lengths in those races.

Laurel Park Morning Line oddsmaker Keith Fuestle gave the slight nod to #2 – Extrasexyhippzter (5-2), winner of the Don Rickles at The Big A who previously got beat (4th) in the Marylander by #1 - Joint Custody (3-1) and #7 - Jessethemarine (7-2), who ran 1-2 respectively.

HOW I SEE IT: With temperatures in the teens all week, but forecast for near freezing on Saturday, the track will be hard as a rock which favors early speed, and there is plenty of it in here. Expect the trio of Joint Custody, Extrasexyzhippster and #8 - Germaniac (6-1) to be gunning on the front end, with Master Lightning, Jessethemarine #3- Mr. Rover (8-1) and with blinkers added #5 - Fleet Gold Digger (20-1) to be tucked in behind, leaving #4 - Undertaker (10-1) to have the best view from the rear. I’ll bank on the speed bias to disappear by Post Time and Jessethemarine turning the tables on Joint Custody, benefiting from the extra furlong.

THE PLAY: $10 WPS #7 and $2 Exacta Box 1-6-7

Onto the Miller Lite Holy Bull Stakes, contested at a distance of 1 1/16th miles, scheduled Post Time for this Derby point system event is 5:03pm (EST). Based on the Morning Line odds, this is a wide open affair.

Last year, Starlight Racing had the 4-5 Morning Line (M/L) favorite and two-year-old champion Shanghai Bobby. Remember him?! This year Starlight has entered program 4th choice #11 - Intense Holiday (6-1) whose daddy, Harlan’s Holiday, placed in this race in 2002.

The 3-1 Morning Line (M/L) favorite is #7 – Cairo Prince. The Kiaran McLaughlin trainee lost a headbob decision to Honor Code in the G2 Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct on Nov. 30th, the only blemish on his 3 race career. Ironically, his dam (Holy Bubbette) sire was Holy Bull.

This event will certainly be a reality check for connections who believe they have a top contender for the 140th Kentucky Derby. Here’s how they’ll break in hopes of taking down Cairo Prince…

#1 - Coup de Grace (4-1) 2 for 2; Johnny V. will try to coax him from gate-to-wire.

#2 – Financial Mogul (10-1) gets no respect after runner-up to Cairo Prince in G2 Nashua.

#3 – Best Plan Yet (20-1) throw out GP Derby?!

#4 - Almost Famous (8-1) a win will guarantee fame.

#5 – Our Caravan (15-1) won debut as 35-1 longshot; over his head in here?

#6 – Mr Speaker (5-1) initial dirt try after 4 turf outings; has worked well on dirt.

#8 - Wicked Strong (8-1) Did JC pick this one or get bumped off #1 by Johnny V.?

#9 – Conquest Titan (12-1) seems to be the “Wise Guy” pick on social media. 

#10 – Big Bazinga (20-1) nice work tab after disastrous G3 Delta Jackpot effort.

#11 – Intense Holiday (6-1) outside post is a killer here.

HOW I SEE IT: This race shapes up to be the most competitive of the early 2014 Kentucky Derby preps so far. Seven of the eleven starters have already competed in a graded stakes, nine runners have gone 8½ furlongs or further previously, while only five are still eligible for a N1X race.

Look for Coup de Grace, Almost Famous and two of the three far outside contestants rushing to the lead as the first turn comes up quickly. Best Plan Yet, Mr Speaker, Cairo Prince and Wicked Strong will be bunched in the second flight while Financial Mogul and Our Caravan settle in the rear.

The stretch run might resemble a backyard brawl as the leg weary and late runners (figuratively) collide. The winner may prove not to be the best moving forward, but more of a survivor on this day, collecting 10 Derby points and roughly $240k for his connections. Appropriately, Financial Mogul will pull the upset, while Mr Speaker and Cairo Prince settle for the minor awards and points.

THE PLAY: $10 WPS #2 and $2 Exacta Box 2-6-7

For the entire list of Derby “point system” races, click HERE.

Recapping my previous blog posted selections at Laurel Park selections from Saturday, January 18th had 4 winners from 9 races (2 Top Selections; payoffs in BOLD) having $2 WIN pay-offs of $37.20 (1st race), $3.00(2nd), $18.00 (3rd) and $4.80 (8th).

The BEST BET of the Day (2: 0-0-2) Speightful Kiss (6th race: 4-1 M/L; 4-1 PT) was outrun early, made a strong move on the turn, challenging the eventual winner from the head of the stretch to the wire, losing by ¾ of a length, yet only good enough for 3rd paying $3.60 to SHOW.

The LONGSHOT PICK (1: 1-1-0) Spicy Salsa (1st race: 5-1 M/L; 4-1 PT) was quick from the gate, poised to steal the race on the front end was caught in the final furlong, having to settle for second, returning $4.60 to PLACE and $3.20 to SHOW.

Selections for Saturday, Jan. 25th at Laurel Park posted below are based on a FAST dirt track as the forecast calls for sunny skies with no chance of precipitation. 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 Claiming for 4 y.o. and up – 5½ furlongs
#1 – Diski Dance (6-5)
#4 – Bellagio (9-2)
#2 – Forest Justice (5-1)

2nd race – $7,500 Claiming N2L for 4 y.o. & up – One mile
#5 – Torchrunner (2-1)
#2 – Greek Thunder (7-5)
#6 – Sleep Like a Rock (15-1)

3rd race – $15,000 Claiming N2L for 4 y.o. and up – 7 furlongs
#4 – Cheops (9-2)
#2 – Pushin’ On (5-2)
#3 – It’s My Perogative (8-1)

4th race – $100,000 Wide Country Stakes for 3 y.o. fillies – 7 furlongs
#5 – Taris (4-5)
#4 – Steady N Love (15-1)
#2 – New Zone (5-1)

5th race – $40,000 Maidens for 3 y.o. – 7 furlongs
#5 – Shaka Sign (5-1)
#6 – Prospector’s Heart (6-1)
#9 – Center On the Moon (7-2)

6th race – $100,000 Miracle Wood Stakes for 3 y.o. – One mile
#7 – Jessethemarine (7-2) *** BEST BET ***
#1 – Joint Custody (3-1)
#6 – Master Lightning (8-1)

7th race – $100,000 Native Dancer Stakes for 4 y.o. and up – 1 1/16 miles
#5 – Javerre (6-1) $$$ LONGSHOT PLAY $$$
#4 – Mail (8-5)
#2 – Indian Jones (7-2)

8th race – $100,000 What a Summer Stakes for F&M 4 y.o. and up – 6 furlongs
#2 – She’s Ordained (5-2)
#3 – More Than a Cruise (15-1)
#6 – Vicki’s Dancer (12-1)

9th race – $12,500 Maiden Claiming for 3 y.o. fillies – 7 furlongs
#4 – Lady Terp (5-2)
#9 – Bond of Love (6-1)
#3 – Midian (2-1)

Good Luck!


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Older Comments about Will "Lightning" Strike at Laurel Park in the Miracle Wood?...

Brian,in the long run,todays 3rd at Gulfstream will prove to have more stars than the 4th.
The Holy Bull deserves top billing today on the Kentucky Derby watch, but don't sleep on the Miracle Wood at Laurel or the 4th at Gulfstream ... two nice races.
wrong race contenders here are (before scratches): 2 Extrasexyhippzster 1 Joint Custody 7 Jessethemarine 8 Germaniac
8th at Laurel today contenders are: 2 She's Ordained 5 Red's Round Table Winning Image 4 Baragah
You make a good point about Castellano. I had presumed it was his choice to ride Wicked Strong, but he may not have had the option of riding the 1, even though he had two wins in two rides on him
If GP is playing to speed, watch out for Bo-rails only mount of the day with an E8 Brisnet early speed rating. I am on Conquest Titan. Love the bullet work at Pmm on 1-4 then 2 maintenance works.
If GP is playing to speed, watch out for Bo-rails only mount of the day with an E8 Brisnet early speed rating. I am on Conquest Titan. Love the bullet work at Pmm on 1-4 then 2 maintenance works.
Gary, not worried about a son of Street Boss getting the mile and sixteenth? I agree that Cairo and Mr Speaker will run well. I really feel that Wicked Strong is the play in here. JC always rides first call for Brown, so the fact that he jumps on Jerkens horse means a lot to me. Wicked Strong was closing in on the top two in the Remsen. If he matured at all I expect him to win this.
  • marylandgq · No concerns about Financial Mogul getting 8 1/2f because I like the fact he has a 6f and 1 mile work leading up to this race for his 3-yr-old debut. My concern is whether the GP main oval will play to speed all day. Both Wicked Strong & Conquest Titan will go off below their M/L while Intense Holiday will flaot up due to outside post. · 1392 days ago
All the wise guys will be lining up to play Wicked Strong.

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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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