Gabby Gaudet's betting tips and best bets for Friday's race card at Laurel Park:
Race 1, 1:10 p.m. post time
Selections: No. 9 Emissary, No. 7 Takethattothebank, No. 10 Gin Fuzz
In a scramble of a race where multiple horses could win, I opt for a new face in Emissary. Trainer Michael Matz doesn’t do this move frequently – moving maiden claimers from dirt to turf and stretching them out in distance – but when he does he’s successful, 2-for-3, 67 percent (100 percent ITM) and over a $14 ROI. Takethattothebank has good speed to sit close to the pace early, and is the one to fear most of those with experience. Gin Fuzz drops to the easiest field yet, however, the Smith barn is just 7-57 13 percent, $1.20 ROI with maiden claimers going long on the turf.
Race 2, 1:40 p.m.
Selections: No. 4 Sir Orinoco, No. 2 Daily News, No. 3 Love Rules
Sir Orinoco has been a confusing horse thus far in his career. He’s capable of running races that would beat this field. Here’s hoping the gelding move does the trick. Daily News is well placed off his last win in this spot, draws a good post and should be respected. Can he string two back-to-back? Love Rules inherited the lead a little too soon when the race fell into the hands of the two stalking him last out. He was a big price then and ran well. Like him against easier here too.
Race 3, 2:10 p.m.
Selections: No. 12 Champagne Time, No. 5 Move Over Honey, No. 3 Eleusis (GB)
Champagne Time was auspiciously placed off the claim last time out to no avail. No harm in trying against Maryland breds. Gets back to a better level and surface today. Move Over Honey will be hoping for some pace to run into but is an intriguing trainer switch to Savoye. Eleusis (GB) gets a substantial class relief from her prior efforts going long on the turf when she faced an allowance field of stakes winners/stakes placed runners.
Race 4, 2:40 p.m.
Selections: No. 4 Sweet Zoraya, No. 1 Phantom Spot, No. 2 Friesan Gal
Sweet Zoraya didn’t like the turf one bit last time out but I do think that sets her up nicely to go back to the dirt. The race at Laurel in mid-August produced two next out winners including this year’s Selima winner. Phantom Spot draws a tough post considering she’s probably not the fast early but exits two storing races comparable to today’s field. Friesan Gal drops from Maiden Special Weight company but will need to run a faster race to win here.
Race 5, 3:10 p.m.
Selections: No. 3 Hug a Tree, No. 5 Lady of Moray, No. 10 Chesapeake Spring
Lady of Moray looks like the horse to beat here considering her extremely consistent form this year and that she has tactical advantage over the field. Will try to beat her with a filly that has turned the tables on her before, Hug a Tree. Totally different ball game when you step into the two-other-than allowance waters but she held her own. Now back in a more competitive level, look for her to get covered up and power home late. Chesapeake Spring is claimed back into the Merryman barn where she had accomplished four of her five career wins. Not much separated the top three in her last race.
Race 6, 3:40 p.m.
Selections: No. 1 My Giant, No. 9 Bridge of Luck, No. 14 Boppin Anda Weavin
My Giant was caught in an unenviable position last out, chasing a hot pace. He’s well posted today and we’ll see if he can settle a little more and make that one move instead. Bridge of Luck was closing late, but did get a preferred setup with said hot pace. Unfortunately he needs a lot to go his way in order to win giving his running style. Boppin Anda Weavin had to be used a bit early to save ground from the outermost post last out. Unfortunately he’ll be stuck in a similar predicament again.
Race 7, 4:10 p.m.
Selections: No. 10 Hot and Heavy, No. 9 Rule Yourself, No. 2 Good Reasoning
I’m very apprehensive to look to horses posted outside going the mile with the short run into the first turn. However, Hot and Heavy is a price and he’s not slow. Two factors I can try to work with. He looked very keen entering the first turn last out and slightly green but has a lot of room to improve with two-turn experience. Rule Yourself comes back to Maryland via a loss behind one of the most impressive turf maidens we saw at Saratoga. Good Reasoning stretches out after an average effort behind several who went on to improve, including runner-up Caribou Club who recently took the Laurel Futurity.
Race 8, 4:40 p.m.
Selections: No. 1 D C Dancer, No. 5 Sir Rockport, No. 3 Service for Ten
Overall, it doesn’t look like there will be an extremely fast pace. Saucy Dawn could show speed if fresh off the layoff, and Amherst Road could sit closely with speed from Charlestown. That’s why D C Dancer is interesting. He’s fast enough to stalk from rail post and I like that he’s been given time after a no-show performance stretching out. Sir Rockport are far and few in between but he’s not impossible considering his tactical speed. Service for Ten sits on a big win out of town and could be rounding back into form. He does, however, want an honest pace and I’m not sure he’ll get it.
Race 9, 5:10 p.m.
Selections: No. 1 Crags, No. 10 Galroyale, No. 13 Pearl’s Love
Crags takes a considerable class relief from upper maiden claimers in New York. Her first race was her shortest distance and it was also her best. Now she’ll also keep the addition of Lasix and blinkers that were given in her last race on the turn back. Galroyale been running consistent numbers that would win here but her last race looked almost like an optical illusion as the pace setter faltered and she surged. Pearl’s Love looks to improve off her last race while hopefully finding firmer ground.
Best Bet: Race 5, No. 3 Hug a Tree
Price Play: Race 7, No. 10 Hot and Heavy