Closing Day Picks at Laurel Park plus 2 Derby Preps

March 23, 2012 | Gary Quill

Saturday marks the final racing day at Laurel Park until early August. The next live racing date in Maryland is next Friday (March 30th) at Pimlico Race Course for the first of 29 racing live days concluding on Preakness Day, Saturday May 19th.

Nationally there are two (2) Derby prep races this weekend. The first on Saturday at Turfway Park (Florence, KY) is the $500,000 G3 Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes. A full field of 12 will be from the gate for this 1 1/8 mile event for 3 year olds. The nations top trainer based on earnings in 2012, Todd Pletcher, will send out two runners, #3 – Heavy Breathing (3-1 M/L favorite) and #5 – Holiday Promise (12-1).

In races contested at 9 furlongs, the longest distance these young horses will need to run so far in their careers, I always look to any who may have already run in a race of this distance. In here there are seven… #1 – Russian Greek (10-1), #3 – Heavy Breathing (3-1), #4 – Went The Day Well (4-1), #6 – All Squared Away, #8 – Coach Royal (15-1), #9 – Tizanexpense (15-1) and #12 – Handsome Mike (4-1). Of those the two (2) having the best speed figure are Heavy Breathing and Went The Day Well. No shock here as they are the 1st and 2nd choices in the race. But as my top selection I’m going to with #9 – Tizanexpense due to the fact he was bump and forced off stride in the first urn of his last race (Risen Star Stakes) and showed promise prior to that race. For exotic wager players use 9 with 3, 4, 8 and 11 (Stealcase 10-1).

The second Derby prep will take place in New Mexico on Sunday at Sunland Park. The $800,000 G3 Sunland Park Derby is run at 1 1/8 miles and features a field of eight (8) desperate for the all important graded stakes earnings. The winner will guarantee a spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate. On the surface it appears Bob Baffert who trains #1 – Castaway (3-1) and #3 – Stirred Up (8-1) versus Todd Pletcher who saddles #2 – Ender Knievel (9-2). Then again it’s hard to ignore #6 – Daddy Nose Best (6-1) winner of his last start, the G3 El Camino Real Derby, trained by Steve Assmussen as well as the local favor #4 – Isn’t He Clever (4-1) who won the Borderland Derby in his most recent outing over the Sunland Park dirt oval.

Using the “who has already run 9 furlongs” angle, in here there is only one, #6 – Daddy Nose Best (3-1) and that was a winning effort in his most recent race, but on the synthetic surface of Golden Gate Fields. Jockey Julien Leparoux was aboard and was in his previous 6 races (all on the turf), travelling coast to coast on two occasions to do so. I’m skeptical about moving to the dirt since he’s breed for the turf, so my pick is #3 – Stirred Up (8-1). He’s supposedly the lesser of Baffert’s two entries, but the pace scenario should set up perfectly for him to roll late in the stretch. Play 3 with 1, 2, 4 and 6.

Friday’s 9-race card post had 3 winners (1 Top Selection) with $2 Early Double ($6.60), $2 Exactas in 1st ($20.00) race; $1 Trifectas in 1st ($19.10) race; The BEST BET of the Day went off 8-5 down from the 4-1 M/L but could only manage 3rd paying $2.80 to SHOW and the LONGSHOT PICK ran 4th at odds of 15-1.

Selections for Closing Day at Laurel Park Saturday, March 24th card will be posted after early scratches are announced on race day morning.
1st race post is 12:35pm EDT. Track Condition… Dirt: FAST Turf: FIRM
Forecast: Thunderstorms 60%

1st race – $8,000 Maiden Claiming for 3 y.o. & up – 1 mile
#3 – Tiggar Too (20-1) $$$ LONGSHOT PICK $$$
#5 – Rollthediceagain (5-2)
#1 – Cranky (3-1)

2nd race – $40,000 Optional Claiming N1X for 3 y.o. – 7 furlongs
#6 – Decisive Move (5-1)
#2X – Wild Louis (2-1)
#4 – He Can Run (7-2)

3rd race – $10,000 Claiming for 3 y.o. fillies – 6 furlongs
#1/1A – Riley’s Rampage / Haitian Nation (3-5)
#3 – Political Diva (10-1)
#6 – Ken Sing A Song (20-1)

4th race – $14,000 Claiming for 4 y.o. & up – 6 furlongs
#4 – Sandbaggin’ Lover (7-2)
#1 – Bellagio (7-5)
#2 – Southern Rainbow (4-1)

5th race – $5,000 Claiming NW2L fillies & mares 4 y.o. & up – 7 furlongs
#5 – Indian Sugar (6-1)
#7 – Country Chic (2-1)
#4 – Corneille (10-1)

6th race – $5,000 Claiming NW3L fillies & mares 4 y.o. & up – 1 mile
#4 – Diner Gal (8-1)
#2 – Next Level (4-1)
#7 – Delicate Genius (7-5)

7th race – $31,000 Maidens for 3 y.o. & up – 5½ furlongs on Turf
#3 – Focus (6-1) *** BEST BET ***
#7 – Pending Asset (8-1)
#9 – Concrete Cat (3-1)

8th race – $33,000 Maidens for 3 y.o. – 6 furlongs
#5 – Shadow Shogun (3-1)
#6 – Southern Executive (5-2)
#2 – Star Of Magic (8-1)

9th race – $100,000 Harrison E. Johnson Stakes for 3 y.o. & up – 1 1/8 mile
#3 – Eighttofasttocatch (4-5)
#5 – Cherokee Artist (6-1)
#1 – Indian Jones (8-1)

10th race – $5,000 Claiming for 4 y.o. & up – 7 furlongs
#4 – Desert Falcon (8-5)
#2 – Muscadine (9-2)
#6 – Our Commander (10-1)

Good Luck! Live Racing moves to Pimlico with Opening Day on Friday, March 30th. First Post is 1:10pm EDT.

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