RT picks a terrific day of stakes racing at Laurel Park, plus thoughts on Mucho Gusto racing at Santa Anita
Boxing Day, 2020
Laurel Park Stakes races today with an upset special in The G2 San Antonio Stakes
Sunny and in the mid 30’s in Maryland
Race 1 – The $100K Heft Stakes
2yo’s racing seven furlongs
#4 No Cents (7/5) found a new gear in the stretch last race on Nov. 14. Since then, he’s had two terrific works of :48.2 & 1:01.2. Trevor McCarthy returns to the irons and today’s field may prove more daunting. #3 Kenny Had A Notion (5/1) Jorge Ruiz returns to the irons after Jevian Toledo did a piss poor job of letting him out too early and left nothing in reserve for No Cents. Breaking his maiden in July, this grandson of Elusive Quality is running in his fifth stakes race in three months….and with a 6F work of 1:15 and a fiver in 1:00.8, he’s ready. #6 Singlino (3/1) not being deterred by the bad trip he had against No Cents, et al, trainer John Worley and company entered this Uncle Mo gelding in the Maryland Juvenile Futurity Stakes on Dec. 5. Running wide to Jaxon Traveler the entire trip, the leader got away by three lengths and Singlino dug in a fought hard to close within ¾ lengths. Tiz Mandate (20/1) scored a $40K mcl race in his debut at 11/1 and benefited from a fast pace, yet thoroughly scorched his final fractions in 11:53. The horses that came out of that race have all improved and given the bias to stalkers coming from the middle path, you may catch a price again.
Since running second in his debut, No Cents has done everything asked of him and he will be tough to beat. However, the last performance/extra race from Singlino, along with the fact that Sheldon Russell is in the irons after Trevor McCarthy last time (akin to Joe Montana coming in for Tom Brady), make him my choice.
Race 2 – The $100K Gin Talking Stakes
2yo’s going seven furlongs
#5 Street Lute (8/5) will more than likely take this and why not? Five starts this year, four wins and the one he didn’t win, was decided by only a neck after going three wide on the turn. Trainer John Robb on fire of late hitting 6/13 and with Xavier Perez up, they’re a 26% combination. Not to be ignored is the husband/wife team of Brittany and Sheldon Russell with #6 Out Of Sorts (7/2). This couple wins 37% of their chances and in his last race, he was pinched at the start, forced back to last and Russell, being patient, started his move on the turn. Being prompted, this filly out of Distorted Humor, smartly ran down the field, yet could not catch Street Lute. Given today’s extra furlong and the learning experience, look for Sheldon to stay nearer to the pace and turn on the afterburner late. She stands a chance as Street Lute knocked down the last fractions in 13:18 while Sorts did it in 12:42. An interesting entry in this stakes is Hamilton Smith’s (uncommonly arctic of late going 10:0-2-1) #3 Whiskey And Rye (4/1). Getting her diploma on the second attempt in open company, she has since run in two $42K allowances, to N1X horses that were not restricted to state breds. She won the second, and most recent, and has since had two solid works. Look for fourth leading jockey Victor Carrasco to take her straight to the front and challenge Street Lute every step of the way.
My choice is Out Of Sorts to benefit from the pace and the extra furlong.
Race 3 – The $100K Anne Arundel Stakes
2yo fillies going 8.5 furlongs
Naturally, the betting public is going to fawn all over #2 The Grass Is Blue (9/5) with trainer Chad Brown and jockey Trevor McCarthy. McCarthy is a perennial choker when it comes to being around the A players and maybe having this filly on his home turf can shake the monkey off his back. Having just won at this course and distance, #6 Champagne Toast (20/1) will give us longshot lovers something to speculate. It’s not common for trainer Kelly Rubley to enter a stakes race unless she has a live mount and getting Sheldon Russell to return to the irons is another interesting caveat. It’ll certainly be an entry I’ll put in my exotic wagers. #3 Zeyaraat (8/1) pulled off a nice 55 Beyer to win at first asking in early September. Since that time, she’s been racing on grass and mildly putting it, not enjoying the sites. This will be the first time Victor Carrasco has ridden for Michael Pino and Pino is 19% from turf to dirt. Two recent works at Parx before shipping the two hours to Laurel and given her late kick, she may get a shot at this. #8 Buckey’s Charm (7/2) couldn’t catch Street Lute either in her last and has yet to beat winning horses. I suspect today will be no different. My choice is #7 Miss Leslie (3/1) claimed by Claudio on Nov. 13, Miss Leslie smoked the field at 3/2 odds in a $48K allowance here on Dec. 10. This will be her first attempt in stakes company and her record of 4:2-1-1 for $49K at the track is worth noting. Jockey Roimes Chirinos has had only 39 mounts this meet and has made the best of them, hitting 21% winners. Keep an eye on this man.
Race 4 – The $100K Howard County Stakes
2yo’s going 1.5 furlongs
#6 Ain’t Da Beer Cold (9/2) proved that his win two back at 12/1 was a fluke after having the benefit of #4 Market Cap (4/1) run green and impede three horses making their move in the stretch. Beer ran his last in the Maryland Juvenile Futurity and was never close. #5 Shackqueenking (5/2) was the benefactor of bug boy Alex Crispins’ five-pound weight break in his last. In that $54K allowance, he gamely fought the lead the entire way before succumbing to the eventual leader, hanging in there for second. Coming right back after thirteen days, he’ll get to the lead uncontested this time and could wire the field. Dale Capuano/Victor Rosales 22% together. My choice is #1 Erwan (8/1) one of the horses impeded while making a move in the stretch on 12/1, he was moved to fourth and only lost by ½ length. The connections probably felt him good enough to enter him in the G2 Remsen on 12/5 and racing against the east coast toughest 2yo’s, Brooklyn Strong, Ten For Ten, and Known Agenda proved to much and he coasted in by a far margin. Today, at his home track, he’ll wait out the pace and should get this going away.
Race 5 – The $100K Willa on the Move Stakes
3yo↑ girl horses going six furlongs
Interesting race with Trevor McCarthy/Rudy Rodriguez saddling #5 Malibu Mischief and going for win #7 in a row, while Jevian Toledo/Lacy Gaudet have #1 Dontletsweetfollya (2/1) going for win #5 in a row. Along with the two front runners, #9 Club Car (5/2), #4 Elegant de Domino (30/1), #2 Parisian Diva (10/1) and #3 Shyza (12/1) are all speed. That is why I am choosing #7 Never Enough Time (5/1). Runner up to the 1 horse in this, it appears that Julian Pimentel fought her to steer clear of a speed battle. By the time he had room to run, it was too late and made it to get place money. Today’s set up will be much different and he will have the benefit of a pace to close in on.
Race 6 – The $100K Daves Friend Stakes
3yo’s↑ going six furlongs
The connections of #2 Share The Ride (9/5) cannot seem to decide whether to have current trainer Miguel Penaloza or Antonio Arriaga overseeing this Candy Ride gelding. Four changes, back and forth, between these two trainers is odd, yet it seems to be working. Just wining in the G3 Fall Highweight at Aqueduct, he took down Stan The Man and Absentee going away. Prior to that he smoked a $45K allowance race by 7.5 lengths and preceding that just missed to Majestic Dunhill by a head in the G3 Bold Ruler. In September, he ran third to Firenze Fire and Funny Guy in G2 Vosburgh. Yes, quite the resume with a 9:4-2-1 for $230K record this year. #6 Whereshetoldmetogo (7/2) Russell/Russell again and this time they have a stone cold closer. 5:3-0-0 for $162K at Laurel and 10:3-2-2 for $243K at the distance, he just missed the track record last out by 4/5ths of a second. He faces tougher today yet has the home field advantage. #4 Lebda (20/1) will find the going easier today after chasing the likes of Yaupon, Authentic, Dean Martini and NY Traffic. A speed horse cutting back from a route to a sprint, his record at Laurel is 4:3-0-1 for $153K and Claudio is never to be counted out. The bad news is that this will be his first real test against older horses. #3 Taco Supream (6/1) has been running some fast fractions and won at a fast time last out, 1:09. Trevor McCarthy aboard, he’s 33% with Damon Dilodovico, and he’ll have this guy flying late. I’m on #8 Laki (4/1) if for any reason, I’ve felt like a lackey in 2020. Since July, he won a G2 stakes, was nosed by the 6 last out and has lost by the slightest of margins except for the Oceanport Centennial Stakes at Monmouth, where he won going away. He’s on his home turf where his record is 19:8-8-3 for $505K and his best distance hitting 20:6-4-4 for $467K. three very sharp works leading into this, so look for a win.
Race 7 – The $100K Native Dancer Stakes
3yo’s↑ racing nine furlongs
Is the favorite, #4 Harpers First Ride (3/5) vulnerable today? Maybe…doubtful. He is 9:7-1-1 for $318K at the course and 10:6-2-1 for $436K. Today he faces this weaker class which makes him look like Goliath facing six Davids’ sans slingshots. The only negative is that he is 3:0-1-0 at the distance. #5 Saratoga Jack (20/1) #3 Air Token (10/1) and #6 Forewarned (12/1) will all try to run and hide from Harper. Around the backstretch, Air Token will emerge as the leader and will head into the far turn in that spot. The $1M question is, will he sustain? Trevor on #2 Hall Pass (8/1), Sheldon on #7 VIP Ticket (15/1) and Victor C on #1 Cordmaker (7/2) are all counting on the pace unfolding that way so they can have a shot in the stretch. Betting a 3/5 ml is a sacrilege, so I am going to take a shot with VIP Ticket. Jeremiah O’Dwyer 25% with last out winners and this colt just took the nine furlong A Huevo Stakes at Charles Town… which means he probably made 4 trips around the bullring. He put up an 84 Beyer, and his last fractions were most impressive.
Race 8 – The Grade 3 $150K Allaire DuPont Stakes
3yo↑ fillies and mares racing nine furlongs
#7 Needs Supervision (12/1) has hit the board in four of his last six stakes races. In her last, the $100K Primonetta Stakes, she saved ground and couldn’t find room until it was too late. That was her first outing in 8.5 months. She is 7:2-2-2 for $158K at Laurel and this will be her first shot at going this long. Expect improvement and a good price is in the offing. #5 Ice Princess (3/1) is third off a four-month layoff and she evidently needed it given her posted numbers since. In her last, the G3 Comely at Aqueduct, nobody was going to beat Shug McGaughey’s Mrs. Danvers, yet this Palace Malice filly from the Danny Gargan barn made a strong showing by hanging in there for a place check. Bullet work on 11/20 of :48 flat out of 65 others, shows her form cycle is heading in the right direction. #4 Eres Tu (2/1) is the logical favorite as she chases her third win in a row and her last two was with the new barn of Arnaud Delacour. Coming off an eighteen-month layoff two back at Keeneland, she nailed the stretch, winning going away at 6/1. She’s 1/1 at Laurel and 1/1 with Trevor McCarthy. On the debit side of the ledger, she takes on two more pounds today and she appeared to be fatiguing last time in ½ furlong less than today. Caveat emptor. Steve Asmussen, rarely bringing a horse to Laurel is a 40% winner here, brings my choice, #2 Another Broad (7/2) set to run. Unhappy with the results from Todd Pletcher, the connections of this granddaughter of Broad Brush made the change. A horse for the course at Laurel, her record is 7:3-2-0 for $105K and she’s 10:1-1-4 at the distance. She’ll find the competition less keen today and will be pressing the pace early.
My take on $200K G2 San Antonio Stakes at Santa Anita
Imagine being HRH Prince Faisal bin Khaled, an heir to the Royal Saudi family. You start a stable of racehorses, hire the best trainers money can buy and you give it hell. You then convince your daddy, The King, to host the largest pot in the thoroughbred world, the $20M Saudi Cup. You bring #8 Mucho Gusto (2/1), one of the prides of your stable, to the race and then, lo and behold, you suffer the indignities and embarrassment of a doping scandal with Maximum Security and Jason Servis.
Do you honestly think that this race means much to him to win, or would he rather use it as a tune up for the big one for late February? Yes, Bob Baffert is a wealthy, known trainer. However, he is a piker compared to this ownership group and they will wind him up and tell him which way the sun shines. #7 Idol (5/1) is of interest, but I think this race belongs to #6 Midcourt (5/1).