by Jeremy Plonk
March 17, 2022
Laurel Park offers its Pot o' Gold Day lineup Saturday, featuring 5 stakes races. The co-featured Private Terms and Beyond the Wire are steppingstones toward the Maryland Jockey Club's signature Preakness and Black-Eyed Susan Stakes. The Beyond the Wire goes as Race 9, immediately preceding the Private Terms.
Horseplayers with Xpressbet and 1/ST BET can enjoy up to a $10 money-back special on win bets on the entire Saturday card at Laurel Park if your selection finishes second or third.
Multiple stakes winner LUNA BELLE meets stakes-placed rivals SHE IS WISKY, MAMA G'S WISH and CLICK TO CONFIRM. She's got a class edge, though difficult to size up with Tampa raider HA' PENNY from the stakes ranks.
The 1-turn mile doesn't have blazing early speed on paper, though MAMA G'S WISH and DIAMOND COLLECTOR should set honest splits exiting sprint races. CLICK TO CONFIRM also has some early foot. The pace looks moderate.
LUNA BELLE's 3-race stakes winning streak has looked copy-and-paste in that she's made the same move and won with similar ease in each bid. Those were 6 and 7-furlong races, but given her style, the mile distance seems just fine. The kicker is the second-wire finish line and longer stretch run here than those sprints. If there's a weakness, she was sloppy on her leads late in the Wide Country Stakes and that could unravel her in that marathon stretch on Saturday. That's the Achilles Heel if you're going to try to beat her.
SHE IS WISKY was 52-1 when a no-match second to LUNA BELLE in the Wide Country. Her pedigree suggests she'll handle more than the sprints thrown at her so far, and her running lines suggest that as well. It's not like she made a move and hit the wall last time; she just got ran past by the winner and was far clear of the rest. They'll need LUNA BELLE to regress some over the mile to turn the tables.
MAMA G'S WISH has won 4 in a row and banked $150K while mostly in the claiming ranks and somehow avoiding being claimed along the way for $20K-$40K. She's never run particularly fast, but she's widened margin over the last call in each of her quartet or recent wins, suggesting the mile may be within her grasp. The easier the pace, the better.
DIAMOND COLLECTOR should be the pace heat for MAMA G'S WISH. This Carlos Martin trainee comes from Aqueduct and her Belmont base off an easy maiden breaker at odds-on in her third start. The $320K Blame filly exits a big work for this on the Belmont training track and is bred to handle more distance than she's had to tackle so far. She's a big danger under ace local rider Victor Carrasco, but note Martin is just 7: 0-1-0 with Maryland stakes raiders since 2014.
The X-factor is Florida shipper HA' PENNY, fourth in the Suncoast and Gasparilla. She's been slightly better around 1 turn than 2, so this configuration at Laurel may suit her well. Horses last raced at Tampa Bay Downs, however, are just 1-for-42 in their Laurel appearances over the past 3 years.
Most Certain Exotics Contender:
LUNA BELLE loves the track at 6-6 in the superfecta locally on dirt.
Best Longshot Exotics Contender:
CANDY LIGHT steps up off a solid local maiden special weight score at the 1-mile trip. The Graham Motion trainee has been heavily bet through her graduation and likely will be a juicier price in her stakes rise. But I like when nibblers finally break out and win big like she did by 4-1/2 lengths. This is a $200K filly meant to be this kind of stakes performer.
Sending it in ($100 bankroll):
$60 win CANDY LIGHT. $20 exacta box CANDY LIGHT and LUNA BELLE ($40).