I’ll be giving some selections in a few of today’s stakes races a bit further down, but first I’ll go through the body of Aqueduct’s card today since I have a few opinions in some earlier races.
Aqueduct, Race 1: Optional Claiming $50,000/N2X at one mile and 70 yards
I recognize that Summer Sunset is the lone speed in here, but he would really have to come up with a lifetime best performance to take down some of the classy competitors he faces today. The horse to beat is probably Sailmate (#3), who rarely puts in a bad performance and has an aggressive rider on his back who should help to ensure a good trip. He also isn’t going to offer much value.
I’ll use him, but I’m also going to use the horse who finished just behind him last time, Percussion (#5). You can watch the replay for yourself and make conjectures about what was going on with this ride, but it appears to me that Maylan Studart was really overreacting to her mount getting in a tight spot going into the clubhouse turn. She continued to be all the way back in the stirrups trying to drag Percussion back though the pack until the backstretch when the horse finally settled down. I’m not sure that Percussion would have beaten Sailmate that day, but he sure could have been a lot closer at the finish if Studart hadn’t so easily surrendered any early positioning. I know that Percussion has the same rider on her back today, but the field is smaller and he gets an outside post position. I’m hoping Studart gets a position in midpack early and that he shows the grit and determination he did when outrunning his odds two back.
$5 Win 5
$5 Exacta 3-5
Aqueduct, Race 2: Maiden Claiming $16,000 at six furlongs for New York-breds
I know this pick is probably going to get bet, but who else can you possibly turn to in here? The Mad Piper (#4) is coming out of a race that has produced plenty of also-rans to come back and improve their figures and this horse in particular was wide the whole way off the gold rail. Being a Bruce Levine second time starter, he’s supposed to run a lot better today and it’s not like he has to improve that much to beat horses like My Cousin Eddie and Cameron Canyon, the two obvious other contenders.
$15 Win 4 (WINNER; Payout: $37.50)
Aqueduct, Race 6: Maiden Special Weight at six furlongs for NY-bred three year-old fillies
Little Gabby Girl (#6) ran and was ridden in her debut like a horse who badly needed a race. If you watch the replay, you will see that (she’s the one who is off slowly in the gold silks) after getting off slowly, she actually was making up some ground coming in the stretch, but was also lugging in and Cornelio Velasquez elected to wrap up and not ride her at all in the stretch drive. I don’t know how much run she had and whether she could have gotten a piece of the pie with a more persistent ride, but I’m guessing the connections told Cornelio not to be too hard on her in her first race. I know the speed figure came back very slow, but a few horses, including the winner, have already run back out of that race to improve their numbers significantly so I’d guess the figure could be a bit higher. Unless one of the firsters really gets bet hard, I’m not too afraid of any of the others who have run already.
$10 Win 6
Now we’ll move down to Gulfstream, where the track is apparently sloppy and the turf is on the softer side. I like logical horses in most of the stakes race, but I see two prices worth talking about. First, however, I have a maiden I’m interested in…
Gulfstream, Race 3: Maiden Special Weight at 1 1/8 miles
I can study the pedigrees and past performances, but it’s still hard to project which of these young horses is going to handle a mile and an eighth for the first time. So I’m going to try one of the longer prices. Quiros, by Street Cry, is a half-brother to Horse of the Year Invasor. He was completely ignored on the tote board in his debut when sent off at 40-1 and indeed, he needed the race. You can see on the replay that after breaking slowly from post position three he got completely outrun as the leaders sped out to set a quick pace. The field was very strung out by the time they reached the top of the stretch with Quiros in 10th some 20 lengths behind. It’s hard to tell on the replay, but it appears that he was actually traveling with some good energy through the stretch and was passing horses as they ran across the wire. The fact of the matter is that, given his pedigree, this horse probably has no business going six furlongs and should be much more at home at today’s nine. I realize that Michael Matz has poor numbers stretching horses out, but there’s a strong possibility he still has plenty of untapped potential, so I’ll take my chances on this long shot.
$10 Win 4
Gulfstream, Race 6: Sunshine Millions Filly and Mares Turf at 1 1/8 miles on the turf
Obviously the gutsy old mare Romacaca is always dangerous in spots like this, but I’m hoping one of younger the new shooters can step up. Regalo Mia (#5) ran some really nice races as a three year-old early in the year culminating with a fast closing second in the Sands Point behind Better Lucky, who went on to win the Matriarch Stakes (G1). After getting the summer off, she returned with a good performance in a minor stakes as a prep for the Mrs. Revere Stakes. She was sent off at 25-1 from the outside post and absolutely nothing went right for her. She was four wide around the first turn and five wide around the far turn. Jesus Castanon could do nothing about it and she was clearly well beaten by the time the field entered the stretch. She was given a couple months off after than and she returns today with Javier Castellano, who rode her to that career best finish in the Sands Point, back on her. If she can stay within range of Romacaca early, I think this filly may just be good enough to take her down at a decent price.
$10 Win 5 (WINNER; Payout: $36.00)
Gulfstream, Race 9: Sunshine Millions Turf at 1 1/8 miles on the turf
This play is based solely on course condition. Shkspeare Shaliyah (#1) has run his best races on less than firm turf courses and I think the rain that hit south Florida will give him a chance at a big price in here. It also helps that this horse has been really dirtied up by bad trips and slow paces recently and isn’t nearly as slow as his past performances might have you believe. I know Doubles Partner is the best horse in the race, but I have some questions about his ability on soft turf as well as who will make the early pace. I don’t love Shkspeare Shaliyah, but I think he’s the right horse to bet. I’ll use him to win and behind the heavy favorite in the exacta.
$5 Win 1
$5 Exacta 2-1
[1:03 p.m. update] – Percussion ran very well in the first race and was really moving well at the end, but could only manage second behind the loose on the lead winner, Summer Sunset. Things went a bit better in the second as The Mad Piper ($5.00) was sent out to the front by Irad Ortiz, Jr. and never looked back winning geared down late by open lengths.
[2:58 p.m. update] – Well that was… unforseen? Maggiesfreuddnslip, who had the lead on the inside on one of those “gold rail” days last time out and still collapsed, pulls away through the stretch to win at 32-1. Yikes. It’s been hard to tell if speed is good today because a lot of favorites have won, but maybe that’s the case?
[3:18 p.m. update] – Regalo Mia ($7.20) had to be hard ridden from the three-eighths pole home, but she kept coming and wore down a stubborn Hooh Why to take the Florida Sunshina Millions Filly and Mare Turf.
[4:59 p.m. update] – It was another tough luck trip for Shkspeare Shaliyah who actually really got rolling at the end to be third at 29-1. Unfortunately there was no pace on and it’s always dangerous to let a classy horse like Teaks North get away in that situation.
[6:07 p.m. update] – It was an oversight by me not to post a bet on this site on Oxbow in the Lecomte Stakes at the Fair Grounds and once I realized it was a little late. I thought he had run a huge race in the CashCall Futurity when chasing the pace four-wide before holding on to be fourth behind Violence. He was a major overlay today at 9-2 and he absolutely toyed with the field winning by what looked like about 10 lengths in good time. This son of Awesome Again, who is out of a dam that’s a full sister to Tiznow, looks like a real Derby contender for Lukas.