I took yesterday off since I had plans to spend the day in Manhattan sampling some of the Restaurant Week fare and enjoying some good music. After taking a look at the results from Aqueduct I’m thinking I probably didn’t miss too much–there was only one winner on the card that paid more than $10. I’m back at it today and this card appears to hold a bit more promise. I’ve found something worth mentioning in six of the races today:
Race 1: Optional Claiming $35,000/N3L at six furlongs
The most likely winner of this race is Saturday’s Charm (#6). He’s spent his two most recent starts facing much tougher horses in stakes company and now drops into this easier optional claiming spot. He also didn’t get a very good setup last time having to chase a sharp Head Heart Hoof who just ran fast the entire way, thus never giving a closer like Saturday’s Charm a chance. The pace scenario should be more favorable here with speed likely coming from Driven by Solar, Rigby, and Dr Disco. Saturday’s Charm will be tough for these to handle, but I also have another idea.
Reserved Quality (#2) made it onto my “Horses to Watch” list two races back when he made a five-wide rally from the back of the pack into a very slow pace. He ran his final quarter mile that day in nearly 23 seconds flat and was the only horse to make up any significant ground in a race dominated on the front end. He was claimed out of there by Dominick Schettino and was immediately stepped up in class to a starter optional claimer. Unfortunately, that race featured even less early pace than the previous one and he had no chance to make up any ground behind a wire-to-wire winner who set slow fractions and sprinted through the lane. I believe you can get a truer barometer on this horse’s capabilities if you go back to his races over the summer when he recorded Beyers in the 80s and 90s when the paces were fair. If he can get back to one of those better efforts here, I think he may be able to give Saturday’s Charm a tussle. The price will certainly be inflated based on his slow recent races so I think he’s the one to bet. I’ll use him on the win end and underneath the logical favorite in the exacta.
$5 Win 2
$5 Exacta 6-2 (WINNER; Payout: $181.25)
Race 2: Claiming $16,000 at six furlongs
The horse I’m picking here is not the fastest on paper, but is by far the classiest. Rich Hero (#3) has been keeping far and away the best company of anyone in this race. While most of these have been competing for $20,000 claiming tags and under, Rich Hero is coming into this having faced tough optional claiming foes three times in a row. While he didn’t make much of a impact in those races, he certainly wasn’t disgraced. His low-profile owner/trainer will help the price and he gets an apprentice who has quietly been improving his craft in recent weeks. If he can sit just off the pace of Dorian Will, W. W.’s Lady’s Man, and Schmooz Talker, I think he can get the jump on deep closer Overextended in the stretch. I suppose Al’s Lark will get bet as well, but I think he’s dressed up coming in off wins against weaker foes. Rich Hero’s 12-1 morning line would be considered excellent value.
$10 Win 3
Race 4: Maiden Claiming $35,000-$25,000 at six furlongs for three year-old fillies
Madre Ditutticapi (#2) is obviously the filly to beat. She has spent the first three starts of her career facing much better horses in three really live maiden special weight heats. Live Lively, Lady Banks, and perhaps even Ballerina Belle, who runs in today’s third race, look to be stakes-quality. Now Madre Ditutticapi drops in for a claiming tag and has a huge class edge. She possesses the early speed to get clear here and may be long gone by the top of the stretch. Since there will be no value on the win end, I will use her in the exacta with another filly, who I consider to be a clear second choice (in my mind, that is). “Horse to Watch” Rettalfa (#4) was compromised two races back by a very slow start and actually ran pretty well to rush up early and hang on for third late. Last time she was again off a bit slowly, but couldn’t make up ground after rating behind a slow pace. I think the drop in class will help her as well and she should have more room to move forward than the fillies who have already competed at this level.
$5 Exacta Box 2/4 [UPDATE: Rettalfa (#4) was scratched.]
Race 6: Maiden Special Weight at one mile for New York-bred three year-old fillies
Let me say right off the bat that I’m assuming A Prettydixie will be scratched. Both part of this entry were entered back here tomorrow going six furlongs and A Prettydixie seems to be much better equipped to handle that trip.
I don’t want any part of either La Bella Chabella or Run a Dubb Dubb in here, both of whom are likely to take quite a bit of money. La Bella Chabella’s race two back was aided by a severe inside speed bias and I think she was exposed at 4-5 last time. Run a Dubb Dubb was also aided by the inside bias on December 27th and is probably going to have to tussle with La Bella Chabella for the lead today. I see no evidence that she will prefer routing and I am hoping that these two short prices duel each other into defeat.
While I think Chloe Bear (#1A) will be the one who competes here, I would use either half of the Pat Kelley entry. I’ll box one of them in the exacta with a couple of fillies who are stretching out off decent debuts sprinting. City Gone Wild (#5) faced cheaper maiden claiming company last time, but made a nice little run through the stretch after getting off slowly and running greenly early in the race. She was really moving at the finish and had galloped out past the winner by the time the field was heading into the clubhouse turn. She’s a half-sister to one multiple route winner, so I’m hoping she’ll handle the stretchout. I’ll also use Love Scat (#6), who ran decently chasing a solid pace last time before fading late. There are also plenty of routers in her family tree, so the distance shouldn’t pose a problem.
I don’t usually bet three-horse exacta boxes, but if La Bella Chabella and Run a Dubb Dubb garner a large chunk of the wagering in this race, it should be worthwhile to bet against them.
[Update: Even though La Bella Chabella was scratched, I’m not altering the wager.]
$2 Exacta Box 1/5/6
Race 7: Claiming $15,000B at five and one-half furlongs
I’m basically married to betting Dan’s Gold (#8) in this spot. I added him to my “Horses to Watch” list two races ago after he made a wild middle move into a very fast pace (see Little Dale’s past performance line for the tole the pace took on him). Last time I thought he had found the right spot and loved him at 3-1, but he got stuck in behind the leaders in a pocket, which allowed Wishful Tomcat to get the jump on him in stretch. I think he could have won with a different trip and today he gets a positive rider switch to Eddie Castro. I think this horse is still capable of running a Beyer in the 70s, which is what he will probably have to do to win this race. I suppose Little Dale, Shotgun City, and Daddy’s Wildcat can all take this as well, but Dan’s Gold will be a better price and has just as good a chance of winning.
$10 Win 8
Race 8: Optional Claiming $75,000/N1X at six furlongs for New York-bred three year-olds
I’m guessing that I’m Stoked (#7) is going to be a strong favorite in here and may dip down into odds-on territory. The public loves to bet Mike Hushion and this colt has been well meant since before his debut. He would be no surprise and I have no real knocks on him, yet there’s another horse in this race who I believe will be three or four times the price of the favorite and has just as good a chance of winning. Lucci the Lion (#2) got involved in a heated pace duel last time with a very good New York-bred in Escapefromreality (for what it’s worth, I’m preparing to pick him tomorrow in the Withers Stakes). They battled through extremely fast early fractions–you don’t see too many horses go 22 flat over the inner track–and he had every right to get tired late. The first and third place finishers both closed from well off the pace and the victor, Go Get the Basil, came back to win an allowance race yesterday. One start prior, Lucci the Lion even ran pretty well in the Bertram Bongard after getting away slowly and having to make a rally from the back of the pack. No one else in this race possesses his early speed or versatility and I think he appears ready to take a major step forward and win this.
$10 Win 2 (WINNER; Payout: $39.50)
[12:35 p.m. update] – That’s a nice way to start off the day. “Horse to Watch” Reserved Quality, who was sent off at a ridiculous 23-1, rallied late to get up for second behind the logical favorite Saturday’s Charm. I had the exacta, which came back a generous $72.50, two and a half times.
[1:02 p.m. update] – Expect to see Rich Hero added to my “Horses to Watch” list early next week. That was a baffling ride.
[3:01 p.m. update] – Wake up, jockeys! Run a Dubb Dubb barely had to run a step just now to wire this field because everyone decided to let her. In particular, why would Junior Alvarado be strangling down Love Scat early when she is more than fast enough to go on to the lead? I’m not saying she would have won, but Run a Dubb Dubb would have been no better than third best behind Chloe Bear and City Gone Wild in a fairly run race.
[3:21 p.m. update] – Did Eddie Castro not read the past performances for that race or did he just think it would be wise to send a closer like Dan’s Gold to the front when there were already three or four speeds going? What is happening? I will say, however, that it’s nice to see Pierre Tomas finally get a win since I was touting him recently, but I never would have come up with that winner.
[3:51 p.m. update] – That’s more like it. Cornelio Velasquez and Lucci the Lion ($7.90) put just enough pressure on favored I’m Stoked and they gradually wore him down to take the eighth. I’m Stoked faded out of the money. That Go Get the Basil race is looking just as good as I thought it was and Escapefromreality looks like a live long shot in the Withers Stakes. I’ll be writing about that race tomorrow.