Five new additions to the Horses to Watch list from this past week at Aqueduct:
NOTE: After careful consideration, I think I can safely say that the main track at Aqueduct was ever so slightly favoring inside speed on Wednesday, November 28th, which influenced my decision to add the following two horses to my list.
Upon my initial viewing of the fourth race on Wednesday, November 28th, a NY-bred maiden special weight at six furlongs, I was extremely impressed by the debut winner Little Rocket, who had to wait for room on the turn and exploded away from the field in the stretch. However, after rewatching the race, I am equally intrigued by fourth place finisher Start It Up (#7), who was also making her debut for trainer Rick Violette. After breaking with the field, Start It Up attained a decent enough position in mid pack entering the far turn. However, at that point, Start It Up seemed to become intimidated by having to race in tight quarters and began to drop back. While Quit Smokin, who had been racing to her outside, went on up towards the leaders, Start It Up continued to drop back while racing awkwardly. By the time the field entered the stretch, Little Rocket was taking charge and Quit Smokin was revving up on the outside to mount a challenge. Meanwhile Start It Up had somehow dropped four lengths behind the rest of the field and appeared to be floundering. Yet when Pablo Morales finally got her to the far outside, she leveled off and began to run on again. Start It Up went flying by a few stragglers at the back of the pack and eventually ran up into fourth by the time they crossed the finish line, less than two lengths behind Quit Smokin, who had run away from her on the turn. I think this was an encouraging debut that she should definitely build on. When this filly puts it all together, I think she’ll prove good enough to win races like this.
In last Wednesday’s 7th race, a NY-bred Optional Claiming $14,000/N1X at one mile, Indy Tune (#1) was taken back to last early, eventually dropped off the screen and then was seen to be coming on again very late in the stretch to get third. Given the way he was flying at the finish and the fact that he nearly caught the winner, Pearl of Wisdom, on the gallop out, I took a look at the head-on to see why his late run was so delayed. Entering the far turn, he was being sent along while riding the rail and as soon as he began to pick up momentum, his jockey decided to steer to the outside to go around the tiring Ali’s Winner. The problem occurred when Ali’s Winner started to drift out as he was tiring and Indy Tune could just never seem to maneuver around him. More stragglers came up on his outside, and he somehow got caught in behind horses at the back of the pack. Once he finally got clear at the quarter pole, you can see in the pan shot that he absolutely takes off. I don’t know if he would have won the race, but he certainly would have made it interesting late if he had just ridden the rail around the far turn.
New Yawker looked like a logical contender in the first race on Saturday, December 1st, as a horse that would likely improve as a new addition to the barn of David Jacobson. The probelm was that some of the speed scratched out of this $15,000 claimer and the pace situation looked a little murky. Once the classy Footcandles went out and established a slow early pace, however, he never relinquished that advantage. New Yawker was lingering near the back of the pack early, but found the others ahead of him sprinting at the top of the stretch when it was time to make his move. He continued on gamely while trying to rally along he inside, but the pace and race flow were just against him. New Yawker had shown previously that he handles the dirt just fine and I think with a fairer pace next time, he should win a race like this.
Rettalfa (#7) was making her second career start in Saturday’s fourth race, a Maiden special weight at six furlongs for two year-old fillies. This is the classic case of an inexperienced horse breaking slowly and being rushed up into the race prematurely. Rettalfa really took a bad stumble and stutter-step at the start and spotted the field about three to four lengths out of the gate. Junior Alvarado then niggled at her to get her into the race and she came flying past horses on the outside to be nearly even with the leader by the time they hit the far turn. Alvarado reined her in to tuck into the two-path for the run around the turn, but she had already expended valuable energy. Rettalfa faded a bit in the stretch, but never quite while finishing third. This was only her third career race and she should give a much better account of herself next time with a clean break.
Frosty Bay (#3) is a horse that I had been following before seeing her nightmarish trip in Sunday’s fifth race, NY-bred maiden special weight at 1 1/16 miles for two year-old fillies. She had made her debut in that September 8th maiden race won by John’s Mariah on a day when closers were having a lot of trouble making up ground. After finishing near the back of the pack that day, she followed it up with a much improved second going six furlongs. I thought the stretch out in distance on Sunday would be perfect for it, but I never got to find out. After sitting a comfortable trip in mid pack while riding the rail, her jockey, Junior Alvarado, began searching for a seem to run through at the top of the stretch. First he tried to get her off the rail and then dove back towards in the inside. However, she just could not get herself into the clear and soon found herself backing up in behind a wall of tiring horses. Alvarado had to slam on the breaks and basically was forced to keep her under wraps for the remainder of the stretch drive. She lost by nine lengths, but I think she could have won this race. I’m not sure where she’ll show up next with turf racing coming to a close for the winter in New York, but she is definitely a filly to remember.