- It was something of a nondescript card at Laurel this past Saturday, but that figures to change in a big way this coming Saturday: the DeFrancis Dash, purse bumped back to $350,000, headlines a card with six — count ‘em, six — stakes. The Laurel Futurity and Selima, for two year-olds and two year-old fillies, respectively, are lined up, as are the six furlong Laurel Dash, 1 1/16 mile Lady Baltimore, and the 12-furlong Laurel Turf Cup. All but the DeFrancis are scheduled for the grass. Been quite a while since we last saw a 12-furlong stake around these parts. The races drew 238 combined nominations, so full fields should abound, as long as the weekend’s predicted rain holds off. Local star Ben’s Cat is expected in the Laurel Dash.
- In fairness to Saturday’s card, there was some money to be made. Eight of the 11 races drew fields of at least 10, and only two races had small fields. Meanwhile, the Pick 5 carryover rose to more than $84,000 heading into this week’s racing.
- Four horses were claimed on Saturday, two out of the first, which was a maiden race for two year-old fillies. Vielsalm won that race to leave the maiden ranks, while firster Lady Isis rallied for second at 21-1. In the third, Yeoho was 30-1 to break her maiden on the lawn — but she did just that, edging clear of favored Lady Olivia late. Joribe was the day’s other maiden winner.
- As for today, I kinda liked the “few plays I’d consider” approach of last week. So… in the second, Riley’s Rampage is 3-5 and, if she’s right, she shouldn’t have much trouble making it four straight. But she’s being handled like a horse with problems, and that’s been true for a while. Let’s take a crack at beating her with Over Marketed at 6-1, who’s won three of her last 10 races, should appreciate cutting back to a short sprint, and may get the pace she needs… In the fifth, a starter on the grass, classy old warhorse True to Tradition — a onetime Breeders’ Cup starter who’s earned just shy of $900,000 — is the morning line fave and won this race last out. But I’d give a look at Wire Funds at 4-1; he’s been keeping better company than this, and he was beaten just 2 1/4 in the Maryland Million Turf Sprint, a race won by Ben’s Cat, who’s in the conversation for the country’s best turf sprinter. He’s won his last four when competing against similar and rates a real shot here… Is Where’s Dominic really going to be 15-1 in the sixth? It’s a maiden special weight event for two year-olds, and trainer Mike Trombetta does quite well with debuting juveniles (about 20 percent wins). He has another in here, but his first-call rider, Julian Pimentel, has jumped ship from that other horse to ride this one. So if this son of Midnight Lute is anywhere near his morning line odds, I’d take the plunge.