Three exacta plays for Laurel Park stakes Jan. 16

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

January 14th, 2021

Saturday is going to be a busy day for horse racing across the United States. Twenty-five stakes are on the agenda, and Laurel Park will contribute half a dozen.

A few of the stakes look pretty straightforward to handicap. With this in mind, we’ve put together a trio of $20 straight exacta plays, which offer the potential for enticing payoffs.

Let’s dig in!

Race 4: Fire Plug S. (1:53 p.m. ET)

#5 Share the Ride is the “now” horse, after he forged to a narrow victory in the Fall Highweight H. (G3) at Aqueduct, but the heavily raced gelding doesn’t hold much of an advantage from a Brisnet Speed rating perspective.

#2 Laki has been running just as fast and also brings a “horse for the course” profile to the equation. Laki boasts an impressive 8-7-3 record from 20 starts over the Laurel Park main track. He has only finished out of the money twice, and one of those misses came in the Dec. 26 Dave’s Friend S., in which he got abruptly shut off between rivals at the top of the stretch.

With a clean trip Saturday, Laki can spring a mild upset over Share the Ride.

$20 exacta: 2 with 5

Race 5: Jennings S. (2:23 p.m. ET)

#3 Cordmaker is bound to be a popular play in the Jennings S.

The son of Curlin hasn’t visited the winner’s circle since 2019, but he has been competing against tough competition. He cracked the trifecta, behind Pegasus World Cup (G1) contender Harpers First Ride, in four of his last five starts. The drop down from open company into a state-restricted stakes should make Cordmaker formidable.

But don’t sleep on #7 Alwaysmining, the defending winner of the Jennings.

A speedster with a 9-1-1 record from 14 starts at Laurel, Alwaysmining seemed to burn out during the spring, but he has been freshened since July and has turned in three fast workouts in preparation for his return.

Alwaysmining posted a couple triple-digit Brisnet Speed ratings at Laurel last winter and is fast enough to upset Cordmaker if he brings his "A" game.

$20 exacta: 7 with 3

Race 6: What a Summer S. (2:53 p.m. ET)

With an undefeated record at Laurel, #3 Hello Beautiful looks like a lock to win the What a Summer S.

Trained by Brittany Russell (a 36% winner at Laurel), Hello Beautiful enters off back-to-back stakes victories at the Maryland track and most recently cruised by three lengths in the Safely Kept S.

Hello Beautiful boasts frontrunning speed, combined with strong Brisnet Speed ratings, so she is capable of making her own racing luck under jockey Sheldon Russell, who has gone 8-for-21 (38%) when he has teamed up with Russell over the last two months.

#6 Malibu Mischief (with six wins from her last seven starts) is the obvious choice to finish second, but as a pure frontrunner, she may be compromised by a duel with Hello Beautiful.

Instead, we’ll round out our exacta with #9 Bridlewood Cat, who will ship to Laurel from New York.

$20 exacta: 3 with 9

Good luck!