In the hopes of securing a day after Christmas present, Thursday’s featured optional claimer for two-year-olds is an event with a strong favorite but also several very intriguing new acquisitions as possible upsetters.
Tommy Shelby (8-5) is very solid and will be a tough out. He’s proven consistently fastest on the Thoro-Graph scale, was a good third in a recent Maryland-bred stakes, and beat a higher grade in a prior start, albeit at 5-1/2 furlongs.
The two of interest are recent claims Twixy Cat (9-2), haltered by Claudio Gonzalez (25% FT off claim) and Candygramformongo (6-1), claimed by Jamie Ness (22%). A tough choice, we opted for the latter after checking video from his local win, NOV 8-RACE 4. [Laurel Live Video on homepage].
While all the breaks seemed to go his way, note how he was forced to move a bit early into the turn or have an outside rival take the momentum and the race, was driven hard into the stretch as the battling rivals pulled away from the race favorite, and doggedly held his coming-again rival safe.
Note, too, when his challenger reached even terms and was surging at the finish line, ‘Mongo’ extended his neck, refusing to let him his rival by, then galloped out clearly in front with good energy. It was his first start over the strip after breaking maiden at the 50K state-bred level in New York.
Taken by Ness for $25,000, he was given six weeks to freshen and has been entered back confidently at the $40K level with three recent five-furlong breezes to ensure his fitness. His outer draw gives new rider Trevor McCarthy options, and the price should be fair.
We’re taking Candygramformongo to win, 4-1 would be more than fair, will key-box exactas with his rivals noted above, and will go for a little holiday gusto by using On the Turf (7-2) in the super-exotics mix.