There are a couple of horses on today’s card at Aqueduct who probably won’t be huge prices, but who I think are very likely winners. In the three other races I chose to discuss, I’ll be taking some shots with horses that I think may be overlays, but still have legitimate chances to win. We’ll start off with my best bet of the day:
Race 3: Maiden Special Weight at six furlongs for two year-old fillies
If Lady Banks (#7) runs anywhere close to the effort she put forth in her debut, she cannot lose this race. I picked the winner last time, so I was glad to see her hang on in deep stretch. Yet I came away from the race with the mindset that Lady Banks just ran too good to lose and immediately added her to the “Horses to Watch” list. If you watch the replay, you’ll see that, breaking from the rail, she spotted the field by a length or two right out of the gate and had to be hard ridden by Eddie Castro to catch up to the pack. Castro then tried to do the right thing around the turn by saving ground and following the eventual winner. However, coming into the stretch, there is an awkward moment where he is guiding Lady Banks around the outside of horses to make her run before sharply jerking her back to the inside. It probably was the wrong move as he had to weave through traffic late and just missed catching the winner, who received a perfect trip.
The field that day was pretty strong as Cubicle Queen, the fourth place finisher and pacesetter, was coming out of a key maiden race at Belmont Park that produced four next out winners. On paper, it doesn’t appear that there is as much quality today and Lady Banks drew a much better post position to the outside. If there was any thought that the debut effort took too much out of her, she put that notion to rest with a 46 flat half mile at Fair Hill four days ago. She’s certainly bred to be quick since two of her half-siblings recorded 100+ Beyer figures sprinting and her dam is a half-sister to top sire and G1-winner Indian Charlie. With a cleaner break today, she should be long gone. Anything above 2-5 is good value on this talented filly.
$25 Win 7 (WINNER; Payout: $51.25)
Race 4: Optional Claiming $35,000/N1X at 1 1/2 miles
I wanted to mention this race if for no other reason than the sheer novelty of it. I love that the NYRA condition book writer cards races like this because it spices up an otherwise run-of-the-mill Friday card. Line-maker Eric Donovan accurately pegged Ea as a 4-5 heavy favorite and I think his odds will settle very close to that. After all, he does have that win at Saratoga going 2 miles and, being by Dynaformer, has a major stamina edge on most of this field. However, there are things to be concerned about regarding Ea’s recent form. His last two races are just not very good and you have to wonder if those three gut-wrenching races in August and September wiped him out. It’s enough to send me looking elsewhere for an alternative option. Colossal Gift is the second choice, but he hasn’t proven to me that he really wants to be a dirt horse. His 80 Beyer maiden win was accomplished over much weaker foes and he hasn’t come close to that effort in two subsequent main track tries. Additionally, how can you trust a son of Songandaprayer to go a mile and a half?
I’m taking a shot with Wayward Sailor (#6). There just isn’t much speed in this race and he is the only one who has shown any sort of early initiative in his recent races. In particular, I’m looking at that October 12th effort in which he chased the loose-on-the-lead Westside Corral for an entire 1 3/8 miles at 65-1 odds. He finished ahead of some talented horses that day and while it was partly a function of the pace, he proved that extra distance isn’t a problem. The dirt is a separate matter, but his race on October 3rd when he was a closing fourth behind Political Justice was a decent effort. At least it shows that he can stand up on the stuff, so maybe if he gets a soft trip he can wire this field of plodders.
$5 Win 6 (WINNER; Payout: $27.00)
Race 7: Maiden Special Weight at six furlongs for New York-bred fillies and mares
From what I’ve seen, Tom Bush is an excellent horseman, but boy has he mismanaged Fujiana (#7). Her pedigree clearly states that she is bred to be a dirt sprinter, yet she has spent the majority of her career on the turf. In particular, she’s a half-sister to Josh’s Madelyn, who won the G2 Raven Run Stakes at 7 furlongs and was a multiple stakes-winning dirt sprinter who banked nearly $500,000. Fujiana showed in the first start of her career that she had potential when she broke behind the field and passed nine horses to get into third. That race happened to be won in runaway fashion by the streaking Sing Dixie Sing, which meant Fujiana lost by over 16 lengths. Still, it was a good first effort. Unfortunately, she never got another chance on the dirt until last month. Going a mile, she battled for the lead, before succumbing late to long shot Silver Prize, who has since come back to give that maiden race a huge boost by destroying a field of winners. Now Fujiana cuts back to a distance that should suit her better and is on the right surface. As for the others, I’m just not that afraid of the tailing off Notesfromabroad or Pegasus Diamond, who is stepping back up in class. Fujiana’s overall form isn’t the prettiest, which should help the price, but I think she’s finally in a spot where she can win.
$15 Win 7
Race 8: Optional Claiming $25,000/N2X at six furlongs for New York-breds
Cap the Moment (#1) is the sort of horse that I need to include in my wagers somehow. Because of his low-profile connections, he is assured to be a major overlay and I really don’t think his races are that bad. Last time, for instance, he finished just 1 1/4 lengths behind What’s the Record, who could conceivably be the favorite here. Now what price do you think Cap the Moment will be? 25-1 or more? Discrepancies such as this are the types of opportunities that I like to capitalize on. Cap the Moment has shown that he is probably best as a closing sprinter and he should get a decent pace to run into today with one-dimensional frontrunners Stonecoldsteamer and Pro Pal in the race. The likeliest winners appear to be What’s the Record (#3), who will also benefit from a hot pace, and Iron Lou (#7), who has some spotty form but can certainly take this. I will use them over my long shot in the exacta as well as betting him to win.
$5 Win 1
$4 Exacta 3-7 with 1
Race 9: Claiming $15,000 at 1 1/16 miles
I see three horses who can win this race and they are Festive Spirit, Political Justice, and Term Loan. I feel that the latter two are going to be the shortest prices and I don’t really trust either of them. Festive Spirit (#5) is listed at 10-1 on the morning line and if he is anywhere near those odds, I’ll be betting. He possesses good back class and I don’t think his recent form is quite as bad as it looks. Those starter allowance races at Parx usually draw pretty decent fields and the one that he’s coming out of produced next out winner Indy Tune, whom I followed to Parx on Tuesday for a nice win. Indy Tune was seventh in that November 2nd race, so Festive Spirit finished ahead of him. Looking deeper into his form, the turf race is a throw out and on October 13th he likely rode a dead rail. Before that he was a winner and running numbers that could compete with this field. What I’m saying is that I’m not so sure he isn’t still the same horse we saw leave New York in the spring. He’s now in the capable hands of Tom Bush and has proven himself at the distance. I’m sold.
$10 Win 5
I also need to make quick mention of one race at Gulfstream Park, since a “Horse to Watch” on my list is entered:
Gulfstream Park, Race 5: Maiden Special Weight at one mile on the turf for two year-old fillies
Manuka Honey (#5) has showed in her first couple of races that she plenty of talent and I’m choosing to excuse her last race in which she received an under-aggressive ride when the blinkers were removed. In both her maiden race at Saratoga and the Miss Grillo Stakes, she set very fast early paces and was the only one who was up close early around at the finishes. As a boost to her form, Watsdachances, who beat her by three lengths in the Miss Grillo Stakes, came back to finish second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1). I think Manuka Honey is going to wire the field today.
$10 Win 5
[1:32 p.m. update] – Lady Banks ($4.10) gets the day off to a good start with a workmanlike win over Merry Meadow. Her price was right around where I thought it should be, but she did not handle this field with the ease that I expected her to. She may be a filly who will respond better to a less aggressive ride in the future. Eddie Castro was really getting after her right out of the gate and she displayed a better kick when he allowed her to settle first time out.
[1:50 p.m. update] – I added one race from Gulfstream to my above analysis. I accidentally overlooked Manuka Honey, one of my “Horses to Watch” who is entered at Gulfstream today.
[2:02 p.m. update] – That was a pretty game performance by the winner. I thought Ea had my selection, Wayward Sailor ($10.80), measured all the way from the half-mile pole until the top of the stretch. But you could see he was really getting brave inside the three-sixteenths pole and just gutted out the win.
[2:46 p.m. update] – Manuka Honey put in a valiant effort after not making the early lead into the first turn, but was run down late by the Chad Brown trained favorite. I still believe this filly has a lot of ability, but she’s been very unlucky to run into some nice horses in three of her first four races.
[4:23 p.m. update] – Well the start to the day made up for any bad opinions later on, so I can’t really complain. Fujiana seems to just not be as good as I had hoped after a lackluster fourth place finish in the seventh race. Cap The Moment actually ran pretty well at 29-1, but was also fourth behind Stonecoldsteamer, who rated and won. Finally, Festive Spirit was never involved in the finale. On to tomorrow…