One of the horses on our list, Big Budget (#6) is entered in today’s second race at Aqueduct, a starter optional claiming $35,000 at one mile. You may recall that Big Budget was put on this list after racing in a similar, slightly tougher spot last time. In that race, he sat a few lengths off a very slow pace before cutting the corner at the top of the stretch and trying to make a run up the rail. He got on even terms with the two leaders, but was struck in the face by the whip of the jockey riding the eventual winner at the eighth pole. Big Budget quickly backed out of there and was taken in hand late, losing by 2 1/2 lengths. I don’t know if he was going by the winner at the time of the incident, but he surely would’ve been involved in the finish.
Only one horse out of that race is running back here, the fourth place finisher A Cat That Flies. While he only lost to Big Budget by a little more than a length last time, he did not run nearly as competitive of a race and I don’t think he has much of a chance to turn the tables. The only other contender on paper is Quiet Man, who earned a decent Beyer figure in his most recent start when breaking his maiden for $35,000. However, he was allowed to walk on the lead that day without ever being seriously challenged and would still have to improve by a few Beyer points to match Big Budget’s best.
Big Budget will be the favorite here and I can’t see him losing. Since this race kicks off the early Pick 4, let’s take a look at the following three races because I think I see a way to play it.
Race 3: This is the featured Time Tested Stakes for older horses at six furlongs. The field of five is incredibly well matched and I could see any of them winning. W. W.’s Lady’s Man (#5) looks like the lone speed on paper, but I’m not sure he is quite this good. Arch Traveler (#2) should be pressing him early and would’ve easily taken a race like this last year. However, his return at Gulfstream was absolutely horrendous. Leave of Absence (#4) and Flat Bold (#1) look to be in decent form, but will probably need a pace to run into. Sam Sparkle (#3) is the outsider on paper, but is fast enough to win and could be right there with a good trip. I don’t often do this, but I’m buying the race and using them all.
Race 4: This is a $7,500 claimer for older fillies and mares at a mile and 70 yards and it looks wide open as well. Basically, I’ve narrowed it down to three main contenders with two fringe players. Winery (#1) looms as the likely favorite shipping in from Gulfstream Park for Bruce Brown. She is dropping out of a $30,000 claimer on the turf in which she set the pace and faded. Prior to that, she had broken her maiden for $12,500 against a weak bunch on the main track. She doesn’t inspire me, but I suppose she can win. Tatoo Me (#5) is the local horse who has been running at this level and distance, finishing second in each of her last three starts. Again, she can win, but doesn’t excite me. Olive Eye (#8) is the longshot I’m intrigued by. Her last two races have been pretty ugly, but they were both at six furlongs and were her first starts since last summer. She was recently claimed by Kentucky-based trainer John Good, who sports a pretty good percentage at this meet, and could be ready to show some speed on the stretch out with C. C. Lopez aboard. In her one dirt race at a mile last spring, she finished an excellent second and ran a speed figure that would win this. Maybe she can’t run anymore, but she’s worth including at a price. On a smaller ticket, I’ll also use the deep closers Quite a Feat (#2) and Brownsteins (#7), who are slower, but should at least get the distance.
Race 5: What’s the Record (#6) will be odds-on here and I don’t see how he loses. I guess the one concern would be that he sometimes has a habit of breaking slowly, but I just don’t see that really mattering in this field because there isn’t any speed to outrun him early. Either of his last two races would easily beat this group. He’s a single.
The two-tiered bet:
$2 Pick 4 6 with ALL with 1-5-8 with 6 ($30)
$1 Pick 4 6 with ALL with 2-7 with 6 ($10)
EDIT: After losing the pick 4 in the first leg, let’s put some money on my one other opinion today:
Race 4: $10 Win 8 (Olive Eye)