Laurel Park: Stakes plays for Feb. 19

Profile Picture: John Mucciolo

February 18th, 2022

A six-pack of black-type races, with two of the graded variety, will headline a major day of racing at Laurel Park on Saturday.

Race 4 – Wide Country S.

Sophomore fillies will travel seven-eighths on the dirt with eight signed on for the tilt. I fully expect the John Salzman-trained #8 Buff My Boots (6-1) to show vast improvement in her second off the layoff. By Buffum, the three-year-old miss has endured less-than-desirable voyages in two straight and figures to get a better trip from the outside draw in this spot.

The Maryland-bred owns a previous stakes triumph on the oval and could offer good value. Regular jock Acosta will be up and forcing the tempo from the opening bell.

Race 5 – Miracle Wood S.

A total of nine three-year-olds will travel a one-turn mile in the $100,000 endeavor. Trainer John Robb has a pair of dangerous threats in the field, and I like his #2 Alottahope (4-1) to get the job done. The gelded son of Editorial displayed a lot of potential in his first trio of outings, all on this surface, prior to being outrun behind a flashy winner in the Spectacular Bid S. most recently. The bay is proven to be capable at seven panels, and negotiating another furlong seems well within his scope from a good post slot. Xavier Perez retains the mount.

Race 8 – Barbara Fritchie S. (G3)

A nice field of eight fillies and mares will contest the co-feature. #8 Belle of the North (8-1) has no early zip and could have a lot of work to do turning for home, but she appears to be sitting on a top showing while making her 2022 bow. Trained by Jose Corrales, the Street Boss filly has won or placed in each of her career sprint efforts to date, led by a rallying score in the Safely Kept S. two back. She cuts back in distance after trying 1 1/8 miles in her sophomore finale, and I expect her to be the one to hold off in the lane under Karamanos.

Race 9 – General George S. (G3)

The $250,000 dash is void of early speed, so I will take my chances with the fleet #4 Sir Alfred James (3-1) as a wire-to-wire selection for Norman Cash. Six-year-old son of Munnings is something of an all-or-nothing venture, but he will control things from the onset with a decent break from the gate while making his local debut. The bay has finished last in two straight stakes tries, but he is a different animal when he establishes the early edge.