We are back on the track Sunday following a big day on Saturday at Oaklawn Park and Gulfstream Park. The Fountain of Youth Stakes is in the books, and Greatest Honour is the winner of 50 points to put towards the Kentucky Derby. Greatest Honour rallied in the stretch to pick up the win and top prize out of the $300,000 purse. Elsewhere in Arkansas, Essential Quality geared down late in the stretch run for an easy win in the $750,000 Southwest Stakes.
That was an easy trip for Essential Quality, and stakes his claim as a strong candidate to win the Kentucky Derby. Bob Baffert is going to have some company in the 147th Kentucky Derby this year. There are four stakes races in the US on Sunday, with three at Oaklawn Park and one at Santa Anita Park. We will get started Sunday in Maryland at Laurel Park. Laurel Park has ten races on the agenda worth a total of $283,000 on the dirt. Head below for our free Laurel Park picks for February 28, 2021.
Post Time: 12:25 p.m. EST
Distance:5 ½ Furlongs
In one of the biggest races at Laurel Park on Sunday, a small field of six horses is expected to compete for a $40,000 purse across 5 ½ furlongs. Chargina and Above the Limit are likely going to be hot contenders to get into the winner’s circle in Race 1. Chargina is winless in three outings, finishing 6th, 2nd, 6th. In the best outing of her career, she placed 2nd behind My My Girl by 4 ¾ lengths in a $42,801 assignment.
It was a nice try from Chargina, but her next performance wasn’t anything to get excited about. Chargina went up in class significantly, and found out that $80,000 races are far too tough. She finished 6th for next to last, beating only My Delicious who was out of gas in the stretch. Above the Limit made an impressive debut on September 26 at Monmouth Park in a $46,250 assignment.
She was slow early, but rallied and came a length away from the top prize. Above the Limit went on a layoff thereafter, and will return to the racetrack on Sunday. Reports from workouts are good, with encouraging signs being displayed. Chargina will provide a bold challenge, though expect Above the Limit to ride up in the stretch for a win.
Post Time: 1:48 p.m. EST
Race 4 covers 6 furlongs on the dirt for a $27,000 purse. What the Flash and Speightster Red should put a good charge into this race. What the Flash is a contender to watch from the outside. He’s winless in seven races in his career, but has been showing improvement as of late. What the Flash has finished in the money in three straight performances, going 3rd, 3rd, 2nd since December 20. What the Flash is coming off one of the most promising starts of his career on February 5.
What the Flash placed 2nd behind Stretch the Truth by 5 ¾ lengths in a $31,782 event. On the heels of that outing, and class drop, it’s hard to ignore the presence of What the Flash in this race. If What the Flash had a betting starting position, I’d probably give him even more consideration. However, he will have to deal with a strong runner in Speightster Red from the No. 2 post position. Speightster Red has been in good form, too, and is dropping classes considerably on Sunday.
Despite finishing 3rd, 5th, 4th, which doesn’t look too hot, he will be entered into the easiest race of his career today. The $135,000 Speightster Red looked great at Pimlico in September as a first-time runner, showing 3rd for a $54,440 purse. It was a gamely performance, with Speightster setting the stage for improvement.
His most recent performance wasn’t what was expected, though, finishing 4th in a $40,000 event at Parx on November 25. He showed some mild rally from the outside, but not much else. Speightster Red is down in class following a layoff. He has looked good in workouts, especially on February 13 when he was timed at 47.20 seconds in a 4-furlong exercise. I’m backing Speightster Red to reappear with a big performance at Laurel.
Post Time: 2:18 p.m. EST
Race 5 is our final stop at Laurel Park on Sunday. This race is a mile event worth $15,000. Big Rinne and Lasting Image are likely going to be involved in the stretch run. Big Rinne has generally been in good form throughout his career. He’s a lightly used gelding, with only three races since September 1, 2019.
Big Rinne won on that date, with a 2 ¼ length win in a $18,000 event. He went on a lengthy layoff, and then returned to finish 5th on January 8 in a $18,090 event. Big Rinne looked better on February 4, finishing 2nd behind Blue Sky Partner for a $20,673 purse. Expect Big Rinne to play a role in the stretch in this race, with Lasting Image likely posing problems for the field.
Lasting Image is down in class after going 5th, 7th, 6th in his last three outings. He won on October 16 in a $32,238 event against Peachy Keen by a head, and then faded in his next three assignments, but was experimenting with tougher races. Lasting Image slides way down in class to a $15,000 event. This should be much more manageable and only work in Lasting Image’s favor.