I’ve chosen four races from Aqueduct to discuss today as well as an turf allowance race from Gulfstream which features a promising three year-old filly.
Aqueduct, Race 2: Maiden Special Weight at six furlongs for New York-bred three year-olds
I’ve been waiting for “Horse to Watch” Stone Rocks (#7) to run back since his debut. (Here’s the replay.) He was sent off at 46-1 and looked like he might run to those odds after breaking slowly and dropping far behind the field on the backstretch. The winner of the race, Dr. Figawi, was a first time starter who is a half-brother to a few New York-bred stakes winners and looks to have a similar sort of future. He turned it on in the stretch and drew away to win by 11 lengths. Everyone was left in his dust, but watch Stone Rocks, who comes off the far turn in last place. When Chris Decarlo asks him for run, he actually matches strides with the winner and makes up nearly ten lengths on the third place finisher from the quarter pole to the wire while just missing second by a diminishing two and a half lengths. I especially like that Chris Decarlo, who is selective about his mounts, comes in to ride (it’s his only mount on the card). It doesn’t appear that there are any Dr. Figawis in this race, so if Stone Rocks can get out of the gate a bit better today, this field may be running for second.
$20 Win 7
Aqueduct, Race 5: Claiming $12,500B at one mile and 70 yards
I loved Bail Out the Banks (#6) last time when he dropped his rider at the start, so of course I’m going to pick him right back today in an even easier spot. Looking at his past performances, some may be led to believe that he just can’t run anymore, but I’d disagree. He actually should be given a pass for his return race on December 2nd. There was absolutely no pace on that day and Pablo Morales made the odd decision to guide Bail Out the Banks into the four-path for both turns. The first three finishers ran around the entire track in that order and Bail Out the Banks was the only one to do any passing whatsoever. The winner, Chairman Now, came back in a much tougher spot and was an encouraging third, which gives some validity to the race. I like that Irad Ortiz, Jr. stays after getting dropped last time and I think Bail Out the Banks can do a lot better today than what he’s shown so far on the comeback trail. After all, it’s not like he has to get back to his best races; he only needs to improve slightly to take this.
$15 Win 6 (WINNER; Payout: $33.00)
Aqueduct, Race 6: Maiden Claiming $20,000 at six furlongs for three year-old fillies
I prefer to take some of the class droppers in here over the horses who have already competed around this level, like the Rudy Rodriguez claim True Joanie True, who I expect to be overbet. I ended up landing on Southside Sis (#8), who did no running first time out, but never really had a chance given the way the race was run. No one wanted to the lead and the pace was incredibly slow (23 3/5 and 48 seconds). Southside Sis was bumped at the start and squeezed back, which cost her about three lengths, so her race was essentially over once the fractions went up. Yet there’s reason to think she’ll do better today. I had made a note that she was actually taking some money in the early betting before that first race before eventually drifting up to 14-1. There’s also some pedigree here as her dam won 12 of her 36 starts, all sprinting, and nearly $700,000. If she’s able to break better from the outside post, I think she’ll be very dangerous.
$10 Win 8
Aqueduct, Race 9: Maiden Claiming $16,000 at six furlongs for New York-bred fillies and mares
I feel like Proud Parent is going to take a lot of money in here, but I have serious doubts about whether the turnback is going to work in her favor. When I looked up her pedigree, I noticed that she has many siblings and they were almost universally routers who had very little sprint success. She also just may not be that good if she couldn’t win going her preferred two turns versus lesser at Finger Lakes.
I like a bit of a long shot in Sharpandwitty (#8). I bet this rider reluctantly, but I actually thought he gave this filly a nice ride last time after an absolutely horrendous start. She stumbled badly at the break causing Dylan Davis to lose his balance and one of his irons briefly. She spotted the field more than five lengths and appeared hopelessly beaten especially since her best races had come when she was up on the pace. Davis did the right thing by letting her settle and find her stride at the back of the pack and waited until the stretch to swing her out and ask for run. She actually responded very nicely in the final quarter of a mile to pass a few horses and get up to sixth, losing by less than six lengths. I think she could have been in the mix that day without the trouble and now she gets Lasix for the first time and has posted a quick workout in the interim. If this 10-pound bug can get Sharpandwitty out of the gate, she could be long gone at a big price.
$10 Win 8
One of my “Horses to Watch” necessitates a quick trip to Gulfstream to wrap up this entry…
Gulfstream, Race 4: Optional Claiming $75,000/N1X at 1 1/8 miles on the turf
I try not to add too many horses like Unbelievable Dream (#6) to my “Horses to Watch” list. This site is more about finding betting opportunities than rising stars, but I think this filly might be both today. It’s hard to watch the replay of her debut and not be impressed no matter how weak the competition may have been. She was left at the back of the pack after breaking slowly, but gradually worked her way though the field before swinging out at the top of the stretch. With Ramon Dominguez barely asking her for run she began passing horses quickly with giant, gazelle-like strides. She went on to win by a comfortable three lengths that could have easily been much more. Something about the way this filly moves–the fluidity of her stride and her long legs–makes me think she’s not your average New York-bred. The Beyer came back only a 64, but Barclay Tagg usually improves his young horses with racing and this filly should love the stretch out in distance to 9 furlongs today. Her little-known sire, Kitalpha, is a full brother to Kingmambo so the pedigree is certainly there for her to be a good turf horse.
I’m guessing that the betting public will predictably flock to the Chad Brown and Mike Maker entrants, but don’t discount this New York-bred at a bit of a price.
$10 Win 6
[1:02 p.m. update] – Stone Rocks was an even third after breaking much better, but Bruce Levine firster Rocket Hero was a very impressive winner despite breaking slowly, swinging wide, and running down the favorite late. He was bet hard in the early wagering and Maggie Wolfendale noted that commanded an imposing presence in the paddock. This may be a good one and it will be interesting to see if inside speed is good today because that would make his performance even more remarkable.
[2:13 p.m. update] – Unbelievable Dream was empty at the top of the stretch when the real running began, but it certainly didn’t help matters that she had to go three-wide around both turns. I also wonder if she just may have responded better to Ramon Dominguez’s style of riding. Javier Castellano has a different, much more aggressive style and rarely employs the sort of gentle, coaxing handling that Ramon used in this filly’s debut.
[2:28 p.m. update] – Bail Out the Banks owed me that after last time. How much the best was he today? After getting off slowly he was squeezed back and forced to make his run from last. Irad Ortiz, Jr. did the only thing he could and made a four-wide move at the top of the stretch but got there just in time.
[2:53 p.m. update] – That was a good try by Southside Sis to be second at 11-1, but no one was beating first time starter Nothing But Air, who certainly won’t be in for $20,000 next time. I suspected she might be live when bet down to 7-2, but who would’ve thought the usually conservative Bruce Levine would with with two first time starters on one card? Also, the Ortiz brothers have won the first 6 races today.
[4:27 p.m. update] – In the finale at Aqueduct Sharpandwitty got a good ride from the apprentice, but just couldn’t hold off the late surge of Proud Parent.
In other news, I had wavered this morning about whether or not to post a pick on Bodacious Barb in the eighth race at Gulfstream. I was very intrigued by her pedigree, since her sire was a top turf horse in Japan and I thought the switch to turf would really work out well for her. I ultimately decided not to post the selection here since it was out of town and I had no evidence that she could run at all, but still made some win and exacta wagers on the race. She was sent off at 40-1 and was full of run at the top of the stretch but, to my horror, she just couldn’t find a clear path and was bounced around between horses before squeezing through a little too late on the rail to be second. The stewards immediately put up the inquiry and objection signs and, to add insult to injury, took her down and placed her off the board.
I didn’t have a bad day overall, but opportunities like that one at Gulfstream come along once every month or so, if I’m lucky.