Wednesday at Laurel produced a 33-1 winner (Gator Gone Wild in the third), who was preceded by a 9-10 winner and followed immediately by 4-5 and 2-5 winners. That led to the unusual spectacle of a Pick 4 that included three odds-on winners paying over $1100.
- Our Race o’ predictions mostly worked out but not where it really counted, in the win spot. Sprinklesmiddle Ez (“the declining figs, on-and-off pattern with front wraps, and indifferent last out feel… persuasive,” we said) opened a long lead after zipping a quarter in 20 4/5 seconds and a half in 43 flat, then had enough to hold off the late rally of Leroi’s Royal Lass (“a likely contender”) by three parts of a length. Another three-quarters back was the late-running Heavy Favorite (“anything like her better races would put her in the mix here”). Our longest shot, 12-1 Roxbury Rocket (“she could make noise”), grabbed fourth, while Vow of Honor (“switching back to the grass may prove therapeutic”) was nowhere to be found.
- Today’s first pits nickel claimers going 1 1/16 miles, and while the race certainly includes some grizzled veterans — among them Silent Shot (47 career starts), Only by Invitation (45), Our Commander (35) — none is quite so grizzled or quite so veteran as local fave Let Me Be Frank. The 10 year-old son of Awad out of the Ack Ack mare Hassenack has made 111 starts (!) and won 22 times, to go along with 34 other in-the-money finishes. He began his career in 2004 — not one of his rivals today had been born then — and has raced pretty steadily ever since. After making just one start last year, he’s made eight in 2012, winning twice and finishing second or third four other times. He’s also a pretty rare bird in that he’s toiled at or near the bottom of the claiming ladder for virtually his whole career; outside of one allowance win and two triumphs in restricted starter handicaps, he’s won nothing but claiming races, the overwhelming majority at the $4,000 and $5,000 levels. Yet he remains consistent; in his last seven starts, his Beyers have all been between 61 and 68. Here’s rooting for a tough old warhorse making his 112th start.
- On the other end of the spectrum, blog pal Richard Hackerman sends out Warrioroftheroses in the fourth, a maiden special weight event for three and up in which none of the seven contestants has made more than one start. The gelded son of A.P. Warrior is 4-5 in the morning line after debuting with a good third in February. Away since then, he’s been training well for his return. Among the horses he’ll have to contend with is True Awakening, away since July 2011, whose half-brother, Recapturetheglory, won the 2008 Illinois Derby (G2).
- Yet another turf course record yesterday, as Night Officer took the eighth, a third-level allowance, in a zippy 1:00.53 for 5 1/2 furlongs.
For our Race o’, we’ll turn to the sixth, which is $14,000 claimers going seven furlongs on the main track. It’s drawn a field of eight, and outside of 30-1 Lacrosse Moon, every horse is 10-1 or less. Royal Straight (#5, 5-2) is the favorite, and there’s a lot to like about him in this spot. When last seen at Laurel, in February, he won a first-level allowance pretty conclusively. He later added another win in allowance company at Charles Town. He’s made just one start since June 1, an indifferent try against allowance horses at CT in late July, and the class relief should help a horse whose barn fires well off the layoff. Sun Dance Moon (#6, 7-2) is one I’m less enthralled with; he’s working on an 18-race losing streak and shows declining Beyers. The class relief should be welcome, but I don’t think it will be enough. Dale Capuano sends out two logical contenders in I Know Why (#3, 6-1) and Key to a Cure (#8, 9-2). The former receives the services of one of Capuano’s go-to riders, Erick Rodriguez. The horse was a better kind of horse through the middle of 2011, when he apparently was injured. He’s made just two starts since returning, both against $32,000 foes at Monmouth, both good fields. He ran credibly in his first start, was eased in his second. Still, it’s interesting to see E-Rod aboard, the class relief should help, and the return to Laurel — where the horse has won five of nine starts — won’t hurt, either. I’m expecting improvement. The latter has won four times at Laurel and returns to regular dirt after two straight synthetic tries. In this long sprint, he figures to be involved early — possibly sitting off Reckless Runner — and he certainly fits with the likes of these. J.D. Acosta is in the irons. Zarroc (#2, 4-1) was up against it last out against similar on a slow-playing Parx strip in which the top pair were gone before he got rolling. He’s no world-beater, and at a sprint distance, he figures to be outfooted in the early going. But he could be running late, and if any sort of pace develops, ought to have a chance to be in the mix.