Saturday Picks at Laurel Park; Derby Preps from coast to coast

March 09, 2012 | Gary Quill

This weekend there are three (3) Derby prep races on tap… The $350k G2 Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs, the $300k G2 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita and the $150k G3 Swale Stakes at Gulfstream Park. Since the latter is only a 7 furlong race, it’s hard to believe any runner in there can be taken serious as a legitimate Derby contender. With that being said, I’ll pass on the analysis and simply say go with #7 – Ever So Lucky (5-2).

The Tampa Bay Derby which is race 11 at Tampa, run at a distance of 1 1/16 mile. Scheduled Post Time is 5:28pm EST as a field of 11, not 12, will break from the gate because the 3-1 Morning Line second choice, #10 – Take Charge Indy will be scratched. It seems the connections would rather go in the Florida Derby on the 1st of April. The role of favorite goes to Todd Pletcher trained #9 – Spring Hill Farm (5-2), who puts his perfect 2 for 2 record on the line. There’s been quite a buzz surrounding this one since the first of the year. Other contenders include G3 Sam Davis winner #7 – Battle Hardened (9-2) and the runner-up #1 – Prospective (8-1) and a LA-bred Delta Downs shipper #12 – Cajun Charlie (15-1) who will want to be on the lead along with at least six others in this field. Based on that assumption, the race sets up perfectly for a runner accustomed to rating, so I’ll go with #2 – Golden Ticket (10-1) who prior to breaking out of the maiden ranks in his most recent start (6th of his career) was runner-up 2 back to Finnegan’s Wake on the turf who ran 3rd last weekend to Hansen in the Gotham at Aqueduct. Prior to that race he got beat by Ever So Lucky, who I mentioned as my pick in the Swale Stakes at Gulfstream Park. In your exotics consider using #1 – Prospective, #6 – Cozzetti (12-1) and #7 – Battle Hardened. The Play: 2 w/ 1, 6, 7.

On the west coast at Santa Anita, the San Felipe Stakes is 1 1/16 mile event which is race 9 on the Santa Anita card. Approximate Post Time is 7:38pm EST for a field of 10 and probably the most wide-open of the 3 preps. Witness the odds on the Morning Line favorite #7 – Creative Cause (5-2). He ran 3rd in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last November as well as in his 2012 debut in the 7 furlong San Vicente Stakes. He clearly wants at least one mile, so he is the likely betting choice. There are plenty of others who can upset this apple cart, such as Bob Baffert’s duo of #2 – Bodemeister (3-1) or #6 – Liaison (6-1), or how about #1 – Blingo (8-1) from the connections who brought us Zenyatta or perhaps a turf runner #9 – Tiz Point (20-1). There isn’t an abundance of early speed, so #2 – Bodemiester or #3 – American Act (8-1) could take this field gate to wire. Lately the SA dirt oval has been kind to runners coming off just pace, so I settled on #4 – Midnight Transfer (6-1) who stretches out beyond 6½ furlongs for the first time but has the breeding and work tab that indicates he’ll get the added distance. Others who will be in the mix for exotic wager players are #7 – Creative Cause and #10 – Empire Way (6-1).
The Play: 4 w/ 2, 7, 10
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Friday’s 9-race card picks had just 4 winners (2 Top Selections) and a cheap $1 Pick-3 in races 4-6 ($24.20). The BEST BET of the Day ran second paying $3.80 3.00 and the LONGSHOT PICK was off-the-board (OTB). How fortunes change when one caps for the current trend of speed quitting but on Friday the track reverted to a more speed friendly surface. Saturday is a new day and handicapping for the speed bias is a must.

Selections for the Laurel Park Saturday, March 10th card are below. 1st race post is 12:35pm EST. Track Condition: FAST

1st race – $15,000 Claiming NW3L for 4 y.o. & up – 5½ furlongs
#2 – Father Hughes (5-2)
#3 – Lamium (3-1)
#1 – Tomorrow’s Tale (3-1)

2nd race – $40,000 Optional Claiming N1X for 4 y.o. & up – 1 mile
#3 – Doe (6-5)
#4 – Proud Pearl (3-1)
#5 – Miss Pavarotti (7-2)

3rd race – $5,000 Claiming N3Yfor 4 y.o. & up – 6 furlongs
#1 – Big Dealer (8-5)
#6 – Hammering Buckeye (20-1)
#2 – Love Talk (9-5)

4th race – $25,000 Starter Allowance for fillies & mares 3 y.o. & up – 7 furlongs
#4 – Her Royal Honor (3-1) *** BEST BET ***
#7 – Aspen Blush (15-1)
#6 – Anita Job (8-1)

5th race – $5,000 Claiming NW3L for fillies & mares 4 y.o. & up – 7 furlongs
#7 – Theprincess (12-1) $$$ LONGSHOT PICK $$$
#5 – Bee Touched (9-2)
#2 – Self Reliance (5-2)

6th race – $5,000 Starter Alllowance for fillies & mares 4 y.o. & up – 5½ furlongs
#3 – Three Ways Home (5-2)
#1 – River Blades (4-5)
#4 – Yogi’s Valentine (6-1)

7th race – $75,000 Conniver Stakes for MD-bred 3 y.o. – 7 furlongs
#10 – Terra Rolla (12-1)
#7 – Access To Charlie (9-2)
#8 – Baltimore Belle (9-5)

8th race – $25,000 Optional Claiming N2X for 4 y.o. & up – 5½ furlongs
#5 – Map Of The World (9-5)
#1 – A Keeper Partner (6-1)
#3 – Poppy’s Punkin (7-2)

9th race – $16,000 Maiden Claiming for 3 y.o. – 7 furlongs
#6 – Tuscany’s Express (4-1)
#2 – Paleo Native (7-2)
#1 – La Reine’s Star (5-1)

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