Aqueduct has really put together an excellent card of races for Saturday and I couldn’t resist posting my analysis for all of them. I don’t think there is necessarily value in every one of these races, so I haven’t included any bets at this time. Instead, I’ll probably post my best weekend bets under the “My Bets” tab tomorrow morning and will surely cover some of these races. But for now, enjoy:
Race 1: 3 – 8 – 5
Two horses on the “Horses To Watch” list show up in this spot. Idle American (#3) was a late addition to the list, but he was one of the trip horses I had in mind when I set up this blog. In his last start, his first with blinkers and Lasix, he was a bit keen early while stalking a very slow pace along the rail. Then, as the leaders began to tire coming to the top of the stretch, he was steadied repeatedly in behind them and was blocked in traffic for about three-sixteenths of a mile. He finally got out at the eighth pole and rallied to get second, but he was probably best that day. This is only his fifth start and I feel he is ready to take a big step forward. Cap The Moment (#8) should be more of a price, but also has a big chance here as he stretches out in distance after getting eliminated at the start last time. He’s run route races in the past that would make him a major threat. Fortitude (#5) is very consistent and should be forwardly placed so he could stick around for a piece.
Race 2: 11 – 1 – 10
I don’t have any strong opinions in this one. Hook and Lateral (#1) looks like the fastest horse on paper and he has a good chance to win, but I’ll pick Purple Pico (#11) on top. He finished only three-quarters of a length behind Hook and Lateral last time and gets an important jockey switch from a low-percentage apprentice to Eddie Castro. I suppose first time starter Wes Vegas (#10) has a shot as well since Dominic Galluscio does well with debuting maiden claimers and there isn’t much to beat in here.
Race 3: 9 – 1 – 8
Lunar Victory (#9) had been entered in the Kings Point Handicap, which was carded for Saturday and failed to fill, so he will settle for this N1X allowance instead. That 98 Beyer he earned last time makes him a standout and I don’t see anyone beating him. It’s also worth noting that he has handled wet tracks before with the prospect of rain for tomorrow. The race for second is wide open. I’ll use Cosmic King (#1), who is 2-for-2 on off tracks and Congo (#8), who beat Ruler on Ice over a “good” track here last winter.
Race 4: 1-Entry – 2 – 7
Assuming all parts of this three-horse entry go, they should make a very difficult team to beat. There is just so much speed in here and all of the horses in the entry like to come from off the pace. Of the three, I like Tech Fall (#1) the best. He showed real promise as a 3-year-old before going to the sidelines and Anthony Dutrow is 12-for-24 bringing horses back off this type of layoff. Viscount (#1A) and J W Blue (#1X), last year’s Travers third place finisher, also have big shots. Socialsaul (#2) is consistent and has plenty of back class, but must survive what figures to be a quick pace. Lunar Fleet (#7) is probably the longest shot on the board here, but has a chance to get a piece with the right type of ride.
Race 5 (Top Flight Handicap-G2): 4 – 2 – 3
Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic runner-up It’s Tricky (#4) returns here and will probably win even if she’s not at her best. She should sit a good trip stalking the speedy Kelly Breen entry and Love and Pride early. Delightful Mary (#2) is the second best horse in here and the pace should be quick enough to set up her late kick. Bahama Bound (#3) could get up for third if Love and Pride is dueled into defeat by the entry.
Race 6: 5 – 9 – 8
I apologize for all the chalky picks so far, but Desert Storm (#5) is the likely favorite here and should win. This horse was green in his debut going 7 furlongs at Churchill last fall and finished well to be third. He probably needed his return at Gulfstream when running an even race to be third again in the slop and now stretches out around two turns. Being by Tiznow, the extra distance should be right up his alley. Al Aqsa (#9) lost all chance at the start of his debut when he got left at the gate and couldn’t make up ground on Derby prospect Spring Hill Farm. He is bred to be a good one and Kiaran McLaughlin usually has them set to run better second time out. Morgan’s Guerilla (#8) finished just ahead of Desert Storm at Gulfstream last time despite his pedigree leaning strongly towards turf. He could be loose on the lead under Dominguez.
Race 7: 9 – 8 – 1
There should be a very contested pace in this one with multiple one-dimensional frontrunners signed on. Raecinjasin (#9) is turning back in distance after running some decent races at this level and he has shown he can sprint in the past. He should be flying late in his second start for Rudy Rodriguez. Alejandro (#8) has spent most of his career on turf, but has run a few dirt races that would make him competitive here and will definitely get a pace to run at. Heart of the Derby (#1) ran a nice race versus the in-form Metaurus last time but must either survive a duel or learn to sit just off the pace to be effective here.
Race 8: 9 – 6 – 1
Satin Sheeks (#9) was last seen when making her debut going 5-1/2 furlongs on the turf at Saratoga last summer. That day she dueled for the lead before fading behind subsequent stakes winner Dayatthespa. She’s now in the barn of Mike Hushion and may just be faster than these. If likely favorite Sing Dixie Sing (#6) runs either of her last two races she should be right there. Divadora (#1) debuted last month with a dull effort going a mile and 70 yards and now cuts back to six furlongs, a good move for this barn. Her dam was an excellent racehorse, winning 7 of 12 starts with a best Beyer of 102 and, along with this filly, she has produced multiple NY-bred stakes winner Ava K.
Race 9 (Tom Fool Handicap-G3): 6 – 5 – 4
I know Caleb’s Posse (#6) is probably better going 7 furlongs to a mile, but he is the best horse in this race. Royal Currier and Emcee should ensure a decent enough pace up front and no one can match his late kick. Rajiv Maragh has timed all three of his rides on this horse perfectly and he will have to do the same on Saturday to run down Calibrachoa (#5), who loves this track and figures to get another great trip stalking the speed. Emcee (#4) is the wild card and there is no doubt he has been brilliant so far, but he’s never matched strides with a horse as good as Caleb’s Posse or even Calibrachoa for that matter, so I’m taking a wait and see approach.
Race 10 (Gotham Stakes-G3): 11 – 12 – 13
If Hansen (#12) shows up and runs his best race, he is probably going to win. But there is a still a bit of uncertainty surrounding his headstrong demeanor and the Beyer he earned in the Holy Bull last time (I don’t believe it). Supposedly the removal of blinkers and a new bit are going to help him relax early in the race, but I think there are just enough questions remaining to take a shot against him. I loved Done Talking’s (#11) race in the Remsen Stakes last fall. He was taken back early behind a ridiculously slow pace (6 furlongs in 1:15) and closed furiously from tenth at the top of the stretch to miss winning by a length, falling just a head shy of beating El Padrino for third. I think El Padrino’s subsequent efforts have revealed that the Remsen was a stronger race than the speed figure it received suggests and there is no doubt in my mind Done Talking was the best horse that day. I love the work pattern leading up to this race and with Hansen being sent early, there is sure to be a fair pace. Tiger Walk (#13) drew a terrible post, but he had some trouble when finishing third to Alpha last time in the Withers and doesn’t need that much improvement to get a piece of this.
Race 11: 13 – 7 – 5 – 10
My original pick, Too Tough Jake, was scratched this morning, but that allowed Pistols At Dawn (#13) to draw into the race. He looks faster than this field, is dropping in class, and sports a 3-2-1-0 record on off tracks. The price won’t be much, but he looks like a likely winner so long as he can overcome the post position. After him, Ben Perkins’ late runner Max’s First (#7), recent Rick Dutrow claim Digger Karakorum (#5), and turnback Swinging at Siro’s (#10) all seem to have a chance.