Laurel Saturday Selections and 3 Derby Preps Analysis

February 04, 2012 | Gary Quill

On Friday and Saturday at Laurel Park, the popular “Jockey Draft” promotion continues as fans will want to cheer on jockey Malcolm Franklin to score with his mounts in order to enjoy half price drafts from the time his win becomes official until Post Time of the next race. The promotion is held on Friday and Saturday. On Friday Malcolm add 3 mounts but came up empty. Saturday looks more promising as he has 5 mounts, two (1st and 4th race) are the Morning Line favorites. Last Saturday Erick Rodriguez made beer drinkers at Laurel happy when he won aboard in the 4th race.

On Saturday the national horse racing spotlight will be on Florida, New York and California as Derby prep graded stakes races are on tap at Tampa Downs (FL), Aqueduct (NY) and Santa Anita (CA).

First up will be the $200k Gr.3 Withers Stakes at Aqueduct, race 9 (Post Time 4:05pm EST) on the card. Seven (7) talented 3 year olds will travel 1 1/16 miles over the inner dirt course. The prohibitive Morning Line favorite is #7 – Alpha (1-1) who won his 3 year old debut in the Count Fleet Stakes by 2½ lengths. On paper he appears to be a standout, but we know races aren’t run on paper, so he’ll need to turn back 6 rivals on the track. Count Fleet 4th place finisher #5 – How Do I Win (10-1) should improve off that effort which was his first time going beyond 7 furlongs. NY-bred #3 – Swag Daddy (10-1) tries open company for the first time in his 6 race career as this Rick Dutrow trainee comes off 2 winning efforts in state bred stakes. Two Maryland invaders, #1 – Hakama (5-1) and Sagamore Farm’s #6 – Tiger Walk (6-1) take a huge step up from victories at the optional claiming level, while #4 – King Kid (4-1) ships in from Florida for trainer Dale Romans after a 3rd place effort in the Gulfstream Park Derby on New Years’ Day.

Alpha winning at Aqueduct
Alpha coasting in Count Fleet Stakes
Photo: NYRA, Adam Coglianese

Even if Alpha doesn’t bring his “A” game on Saturday, he’ll be tough to beat, so a small Trifecta “key” would be the wager of choice in order to get some value. Using Alpha on top of Hakama, How Do I Win and Tiger Walk (7 w/ 1, 5, 6) for a $1 Tri key cost you a mere $6.

Next will be the $200k Gr.3 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Downs. It’s race 11 (Post Time 5:10pm EST) on the card and has attracted eleven (11) runners. #10 – Reveron is the lukewarm 3-1 Morning Line favorite, winner of the $100k Gulfstream Park Derby on New Years’ Day. Other notables are #1 – State Of Play (4-1) making his dirt surface debut after 3 turf outings. He’s trained by H. Graham Motion barn and owned by Team Valor International, who teamed up to win the 2011 Kentucky Derby with Animal Kingdom, and #11 – Prospective (6-1) started his 3 year old campaign with a victory in the $100k Pasco at Tampa Downs.

State Of Play winning debut on turf
State Of Play winning on Saratoga turf
Photo: NYRA, Adam Coglianese

The entire field is well-balanced as far as a good mix of early speed, tactical speed and ones with a nice closing kick. One thing for certain, if you can catch the Exacta or Trifecta, you should be handsomely rewarded because the Sam F. Davis is a great betting race. The horse I settled on is #6 – Neck ‘N Neck (5-1). In his last race, a $75k Optional Claiming affair, he was runner-up to a colt who in my mind is a top Derby contender, Discreet Dancer. His foes in this race haven’t faced or run close to that caliber of a horse. Take #6 across board (WPS) and if you’re looking for an exotic play consider using #3 – Battle Hardened (12-1), #4 – Ecabroni (7-2) and #9 – Burning Time (12-1) with #6 – Neck ‘N Neck (3-4-6-9).

Lastly at Santa Anita on Saturday the 6th race is the $200k Gr.2 Robert B. Lewis Stakes. Post Time is set for 6:05pm EDT. Liaison, winner of the Gr.1 CashCall Futurity last time out is the 9-5 Morning Line favorite. He’ll face seven rivals, 3 of which he beat in the CashCall… #5 – Sky Kingdom (by 2¼), #6 – Rousing Sermon (by a neck) and #6 – Empire Way (by 2¾). Among the newcomers is highly touted #1 – Isn’t He Clever (6-1) who has been sprinting at small southwest tracks (Zia Park, Remington Park and Sunland Park) but with his pedigree (sire is Smarty Jones who won Derby and Preakness), he should have no problem getting the 1 1/16 miles.

Liaison beating Rousing Sermon in CashCall Futurity
Liaison edging out Rousing Sermon in CashCall Futurity
Photo: Cynthia Lum / Zuma Press

Isn’t He Clever along with #3 – Groovin’ Solo (15-1), #4 – I’ll Have Another (10-1) and #8 – Chips All In (12-1) will guarantee a quick early pace, setting it up perfectly for the Stalkers (Liaison and Sky Kingdom) and Closers (Rousing Sermon and Empire Way) to provide a blanket finish. Considering Liaison is giving all three of his CashCall foes 5 lbs. (he’s adding 2 and they all take off 3) from that race, look for Empire Way to get the win, edging out Rousing Sermon followed closely by Liaison and Sky Kingdom (7-6-2-5).

Laurel Park starting gate
Here are my opinions for Laurel Park’s Winter Meet Saturday card, February 4th. 1st race post is 12:35pm EST.

1st race – $5,000 Claiming for fillies and mares NW2y – 5 furlongs
#3 – Who Plays Brahms (7-2)
#4 – Grandanna (2-1)
#6 – The Last Dancer (7-2)

2nd race – $10,000 Claiming for 3 yr old fillies – 1 mile
#3 – Political Diva (8-1) $$$ LONGSHOT PICK $$$
#2 – Mistress Quickly (7-2)
#6 – Kantishna Breeze (15-1)

3rd race – $5,000 Starter Allowance – 1 mile
#3 – Risky Red (9-2)
#6 – Awesome Rhythm (7-5)
#4 – First Nite (5-1)

4th race – $32,000 Optional Claiming n3x – 6 furlongs
#2 – Miso Good (3-1) *** BEST BET ***
#4 – After The Applause (7-5)
#1 – Side By Side (10-1)

5th race – $33,000 for Maiden 3 yr olds – 7 furlongs
#6 – Cytherean (5-2)
#5 – Hard Line (4-1)
#2 – Johnny La Rue (7-2)

6th race – $40,000 Optional Claiming n1x – 6 furlongs
#2 – Cop A Tude (4-1)
#5 – Rocky Gap (7-2)
#1 – Rass Stone (3-1)

7th race – $5,000 Claiming NW2L – 6 furlongs
#2 – Gogo Baby (3-1)
#4 – Blackburnian (10-1)
#5 – Awaken Spirit (7-2)

8th race – $100,000 Marshua Stakes for 3 yr old fillies – 6 furlongs
#7 – Dancing Anna (9-2)
#4 – Dance To Bristol (5-2)
#5 – Defy Gravity (5-1)

9th race – $10,000 Maiden Claiming – 5½ furlongs
#1 – Derwin’s Shamrock (5-1)
#5 – Giant Trust (2-1)
#7 – May King (20-1)

Good Luck!