…but there’s not much else to say. I chose two races to discuss today, but even that’s more than this card really deserves. Races such as the eighth and the stakes early on the card are mildly interesting, but there’s not a whole lot that I can grab onto with any conviction from a handicapping perspective. Perhaps I’m a little spoiled after savoring the goodies that Gulfstream had to offer yesterday, but this group of races just has not inspired me. The races I’ll be playing happen to bookend the card.
Aqueduct, Race 1: Claiming $12,500N2L at one mile and 70 yards
Well, this guy’s no longer a member of my “Horses to Watch” list, but I sort of wish that I had kept him on it for this race. On paper, Wildhaassseee (#3) looks slower than his competition today in his first start versus winners, but I think race dynamics will give him a chance. (On paper, Wildhaassseee is a ridiculous name, but I’ve gotten so accustomed to spelling it with accuracy that naturally I have to attempt to make a case for him, right?)
In all seriousness, he has some things going for him today. Willy Pay has proven on a number of occasions that he doesn’t exactly like to pass horses in the stretch and I would not trust him as a clear favorite in here. Hope Still Springs is a horse that I’ve tried in the past, but he’s plagued by gate issues which often put him behind the eight-ball early in his races. I think he has just as much ability as Willy Pay, but he’s hard to trust on the win end as well. Senor Quickie is a bit of an unknown quantity who is seemingly dropping in class after running at Parx and Laurel. I like that Irad Ortiz, Jr. takes the mount and might use him in exactas, but he also on occasion has been compromised by a lack of early speed.
Cornelio Velasquez figured out how Wildhaassseee wants to be ridden in his last race and he completely dominated on the front end. Yet I actually think he showed more ability in his previous start when finishing second behind Hackleton after fighting Velasquez the entire way. Hackleton came back to improve upon that performance and win against tougher claimers, so I’m wondering if the race is better than it looks. I think Wildhaassseee will have a few lengths on this field down the backstretch and I’m hoping that’s enough to get him home.
$15 Win 3
Aqueduct, Race 9: Claiming $12,500B at one mile and 70 yards
This one looks pretty wide open. I picked Term Loan last time, but he had everything in his favor that day and this field is tougher. Rangey will probably take a lot of money, but I don’t see any evidence that he can handle the dirt and that’s not one of John Parisella’s stronger moves.
I would be a lot more interested in Roman Invasion (#3) if not for the severe drop in class, but I still think he’s an intriguing new face in this group. He has many races going back to early 2012 and the year prior that would make him very competitive with this group and I’m not too concerned about his one race since the layoff. He never really had a chance that day in a quickly-run affair since he’s not a sprinter. He was working swiftly and steadily for that return and Breen’s numbers with horses making their second starts back off layoffs and horses stretching out in distance are good. The fact that their giving him away for $12,500 is a concern, but at least they’re bringing him back just 14 days after that return run.
I’m also interested in Take a Walk (#6), who has been struggling versus much tougher competition recently and receives a much needed drop in class today. I’m not quite as concerned with this class plunge because he obviously is no longer competitive with New York-bred allowance horses and requires softer competition. I like that Irad Ortiz, Jr. has taken the mount and expect him to be coming late at a decent price.
$10 Win 3
$5 Win 6 (WINNER; Payout: $56.00)
[12:32 p.m update] – Willy Pay wins, I lose. Wildhaassseee never really had a chance after Cornelio Velasquez decided to rate him.
[4:31 p.m. update] – Well that was a nice way to end the week. Take a Walk ($22.40) hit the front inside the sixteenth pole and held off Festive Spirit to win. I would have been beside myself if Festive Spirit had gotten up since I picked him the last couple of times he ran to no avail. The way things ended up though, I hit the Pick-4 ending with the winner of the finale. It was a good week.