by Jeremy Plonk
April 14, 2022
The Maryland Jockey Club presents back-to-back Saturday Spring Stakes Spectaculars at Laurel Park, beginning this week with a quartet of features. Qualifying races for the Preakness and Black-Eyed Susan will be offered in the $125,000 Federico Tesio Stakes and $125,000 Weber City Miss Stakes. The program also features the $100,000 Heavenly Cause and the $100,000 Frank Whiteley Stakes. It's the Whiteley that catches our handicapping eye as the Race of the Week, a 7-furlong sprint that goes as Race 7.
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SIR ALFRED JAMES and THREES OVER DEUCES are the established stakes winners in the field. WAR TOCSIN is Grade 3-placed, while YOUNGEST OF FIVE is multiple stakes-placed. SIR ALFRED JAMES has kept the strongest company lines with WAR TOCSIN close up in that discussion.
WAR TOCSIN and BORRACHO likely have the most license on the front end with SIR ALFRED JAMES in close pursuit from the rail.. YOUNGEST OF FIVE could add to what looks to be an average to above-average pace scenario.
WAR TOCSIN and SIR ALFRED JAMES finished 2-3 in the Grade 3 General George Stakes, Laurel Park's premier winter sprint race for the boys. SIR ALFRED JAMES has been very active since then running twice, while WAR TOCSIN comes into the race fresh. With a long run into the turn at 7 furlongs, the outside post for WAR TOCSIN may be advantageous in their rematch. I give WAR TOCSIN the edge in the rematch after he was 3-1/2 lengths clear of his rival in February's matchup. But he was 48-1 that day and the value obviously shrinks. THREES OVER DEUCES also exits the General George, but faded that day and is much better at 6 furlongs than 7.
BORRACHO has been on a roll since arriving in Maryland with 2 wins and a runner-up in 3 starts, the first 2 for Jamie Ness and the latest for Mike Gotham since a $50,000 claim. He's won here at 6 furlongs and 1 mile, so there's no reason to think 7 furlongs won' t suit him. He was third in the G1 Woody Stephens in 2019, so there's back class that makes this veteran interesting despite the recent claim.
DISCO PHAROAH is a wildcard from New York. The Ray Handal trainee broke his maiden by 19-1/2 lengths last time out in his third career start. The 4-year-old has obviously had physical issues, but this $255,000 American Pharoah purchase was always well-meant. Leading local jockey Jevian Toledo takes the call and there's a lot to get excited about despite the limited resume.
Most Certain Exotics Contender:
SIR ALFRED JAMES has finished in the money in 6 of his last 7 dirt attempts.
Best Longshot Exotics Contender:
AMERICAN PATROL returns from a long break and make his stakes debut for Cal Lynch off a solid set of workouts. This is bold placement by a shrewd barn that catches your attention.
Sending it in ($100 bankroll):
$100 win DISCO PHAROAH.