By Joe Quillen
Friday 1/26/24 – Laurel Race 9 – Fire Plug Stakes
Before I begin with today’s Quills Picks Winners, I do want to give a heads up for future articles that would be to all the readers’ benefit, especially with what I experienced yesterday.
To let you behind the curtain so to speak, I write these articles usually the night before and sometimes even earlier than the race date. I want to make sure that my article is out there in time so that you can form your opinions based on what I post, whether you agree or disagree. But what I like about horse racing is that despite all the flaws and grievances that certain groups bring to light, I find this sport one big mental puzzle that I like to solve once a day with this article or however many races I may play on my own time.
But with these articles, sometimes the contents aren’t what are advertised, as in the sport of horse racing, because from time to time as we all know, horses are scratched. Sometimes they mean nothing, and sometimes, they are your tip pick like mine was on Thursday at Gulfstream.
I work during the day and sometimes I won’t catch the scratches in time. Thankfully yesterday, I did catch the scratch of No Fake. I encourage readers to follow me on Twitter (once again, I refuse to call it X), Instagram and Threads as I will try to update you if I can catch it with time to spare.
As we get to today’s race from Laurel Park, we may have that situation again. If you like my selection and it is scratched, check my Twitter/Instagram/Threads as I will try to give an updated pick. The track should be sloppy in Maryland between the thawing of the frozen ground from the snow and the cold snap we have had in the mid-Atlantic region and the rain that is forecasted for this general area.
Today’s race at Laurel is the ninth race which is the Fire Plug Stakes. This is a race that was brought back from last Saturday from the storm that I mentioned that hit the mid-Atlantic region last weekend. The race originally had 11 runners, but today there will be 10 horses who are four years old and up going six and a half furlongs on the main track, and as I said a few paragraphs above, I am handicapping this as a sloppy race track.
The lukewarm morning line favorite is the 5 Super Chow (7/2 morning line). He is a front-running horse who is coming up from Florida for this race. He finished second last time out in a race where he was not on the front end, but was running wide and was drifting even further out at the end of the race.
It looked like the winner did force him out at the top of the stretch, eventually finishing the race after his own personal drifting by ending up near the crown of the track, but he did keep running as a heavy favorite. He has faced tougher two back at Mahoning Valley in the Steel Valley Sprint, so there is some back class as well.
Keep an eye on the scratches at the start of the day, because the 10 Murray (4/1 ML). He is entered for this race, but this Brittnay Russell entry does not have a jockey. Sheldon Russell is on the 6 Frat Pack, and I imagine that if the 6 scratches, Sheldon will be named on this horse. Murray does look tough to beat here as he would be shortening up from a mile race on New Year’s Eve.
It looks like the 1 Brother Conway (8/1 ML), the 2 Sir Alfred James (12/1 ML) and the aforementioned Frat Pack (9/2 ML) could be dueling on the front end. If this happens, it will benefit Murray who should be stalking if he runs and some closers.
The 8 Greeley and Ben (6/1 ML) closed to win at six furlongs twice in December at Laurel, and then got bumped around in the Gravesend at Aqueduct after running the week before at Laurel. He has a few extra weeks of rest for this race and will be closing at the end. Toss the Aqueduct race. He’ll be there at the end today.
The 6 Frat Pack was included in that speed duel that I am projecting, but he is 2 for 3 on wet tracks, winning last out in October. This is the first race off the layoff, and it is very possible that he benefits the most from the wet weather.
Finally, the 3 Cowan (6/1 ML) just missed last out at Laurel and has won in the slop back in October. He will be stalking.
Picking the 10 is tempting here, but I am not going to because I’m guessing he gets scratched. I’ll pick the 6 Frat Pack because of the bad weather that is expected. I’ll call it 6-5-8-3 in the Fire Plug Stakes at Laurel. Good luck everyone!
Quills Picks Winners Update Desk
- The Southwest Stakes, which is the second leg of the Arkansas road to the Kentucky Derby, has been rescheduled for Saturday 2/3 after the cold snap that hit the eastern half of the United States.
- Saturday’s biggest race is the Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park, and I will take a look at that race and potentially a few others on Saturday’s QPW.
Follow Joe on Twitter/Instagram/Threads @JoeQuills. Check out the Bleacher Brothers Show from 8 to 10 pm Eastern Time on the Tony Bruno Sports Network app! Also check Joe’s sports stream podcast on Twitch every Tuesday and Thursday at 10 pm ET, and his YouTube channel where you can catch the show on demand.