Laurel Park, Race 8: The City of Laurel Stakes at seven furlongs
It’s pretty rare that you’ll see me handicapping a race from Laurel, but there’s a horse running in their featured stakes race down there that I’m very excited about. Hardened Wildcat (#3) has been on my “Horse to Watch” list since the inner-track season at Aqueduct earlier this year, but he solidified his position as a horse that I was keenly keeping my eye on with his runner-up performance in the Bay Shore. This is what I wrote about it at the time:
“Trinniberg essentially won the race by the time the field hit the far turn and he had gotten away with a half in a ridiculous 47 2/5 seconds. Undeterred, Hardened Wildcat still ran an excellent race in defeat as he came with a nice late run to get within 3 lengths of Trinniberg at the wire. Most notable is the fact that Hardened Wildcat ran his last three furlongs in about :35 1/5 seconds, which is blazingly fast for a dirt race. This horse reminds me so much of Caleb’s Posse and I firmly believe he should be a major player later on in races like the Woody Stephens and King’s Bishop.”
Hardened Wildcat did eventually get to the Woody Stephens, but was derailed once again by a pace that held together and a questionable ride. After that, he was put away and I’ve been waiting eagerly for his return. I truly believe that this horse can develop into one of the top sprinters in the country and I’m looking forward to seeing him easily dismantle a decent allowance horse like Brigand today.
$20 Win 3
The rest of the races I’ll be looking at today are from Aqueduct, where we are apparently off the turf after a day and night of misting rain.
Race 1: Claiming $20,000B at six furlongs
I have two “Horses to Watch” entered in this race, King Rock and New Yawker, and I’d be interested in both of them if it were not for the wet track. King Rock has proven on a number of occasions that he just cannot stand up on a less than dry dirt surface, so I won’t be touching him in here. On the other hand, I’m very interested in New Yawker (#8). I think he’s better than his recent races make him appear. First off the claim for David Jacobson two races back, he faced a much tougher bunch of horses that included Head Heart Hoof, who came back to reaffirm his good form, and Bomber Boy, who also won right back impressively. Next time out, he really looked to figure in the outcome of that $15,000 claimer, but was given no chance once Footcandles was able to walk on the lead through a half in nearly 47 seconds. New Yawker tried to make a late impact, but they were all sprinting through the lane and he couldn’t make up much ground. David Jacobson steps him up slightly in claiming price now and I think we’re finally going to see that step forward that you would have expected to see a couple races ago.
$10 Win 8 (WINNER; Payout: $89.00)
Race 3: NY-bred Maiden claiming $20,000 at seven furlongs
Well if 0-for-30 El Dreamer is really the 2-1 favorite, I know that there has to be a wagering opportunity somewhere in this weak field. I’m going to give Light of Mercy (#1) another chance. I picked him last time when he tried to ride the rail most of the way and just could not make up ground on a horse who would probably be odds on against this group. The time before that, he ran much better than that 42 Beyer suggests since he was badly impeded at the start and lost about five lengths right out of the gate. The extra furlong he gets today should only work to his advantage.
I’m also going to throw a few bucks at Tricked Out Tux (#8), who is taking that huge drop from Maiden special weights to a Maiden claimer for some low-profile connections. He was so horribly over-matched in his only dirt race that he deserves another chance over the stuff.
$10 Win 1
$5 Win 8 (WINNER; Payout: $17.50)
Race 6: Maiden Special Weight at seven furlongs for two year-olds
Well naturally I need to pick the horse that was second to the greatest horse on the planet, the almighty Archwarrior! …But all joking aside, I actually was very impressed with Malachite’s (#7) debut at Saratoga. He settled nicely off the pace and really made a bold run at the leaders in the stretch before Archwarrior asserted himself. Despite going off at 20-1, this horse was actually heavily bet for a David Donk firster in that strong maiden race and I get the impression that the connections must like this horse. They certainly gave him plenty of time to recover from that first race and I think he’s the right one in here.
$10 Win 7
Race 8: The Queens County Stakes at 1 1/8 miles
I know this race is supposed to be all about San Pablo and he probably will win easily as a heavy favorite. But I have one alternative idea. Couldn’t there be a fair bit of speed in this race? Gallant Fields basically has to go early to have a chance, Isn’t He Perfect has run his best races when up on the pace, and San Pablo certainly won’t be far off them. Then you add Arch Traveler into the mix, who certainly has enough speed to go to the front if his rider, Eddie Castro, chooses to use it. This is a grueling 9 furlongs at Aqueduct and if the race comes apart a little bit late, I’m going to try and get Indy Scent (#1) up to win it. I’ve been trying to score with this horse for far too long, but he’s easy to like. He’s just a hard knocking horse who is always coming at the end and should love today’s distance. After all, he’s by the distance loving A. P. Indy out of the champion mare Escena, who also was a nine furlong specialist. Leah Gyarmati wouldn’t be running him in such a tough spot if he weren’t doing well and you can make a case that Indy Scent runs his best races in colder weather. (One of his comment lines from Saratoga notes that he was suffering from heat distress.) I’ll bet him to win and use him in the exacta with the heavy favorite, San Pablo (#5).
$5 Win 1
$5 Exacta Box 1-5
[2:00 p.m. update] – The day got off to a nice start with New Yawker ($17.80) getting the pace he needed and running down Nebikon late to win at a very generous 7-1. Then, in the third race, my backup selection, Tricked Out Tux ($7.00) got it done as well, albeit at an underlaid price. My top pick, Light of Mercy, was a closing second, but I wasn’t smart enough to play the exacta.
[4:14 p.m. update] – Malachite again ran well, but unfortunately Mudflats ran to his name and loved the going. A bit later, San Pablo just eked out the victory after the pace never really materialized, thus negating the chances of my selection, Indy Scent.
And as for Hardened Wildcat? I don’t even know what to say about that ride. Why any jockey would have their horse under a tight hold in last place at the quarter pole is beyond me. Not that he would have won, but Sheldon Russell gave him absolutely no chance.