I’ll be handicapping a few races from Aqueduct today, although you don’t have to spend too much time on this card to realize there aren’t very many opportunities to make money. I also have pretty strong feelings about one race from Gulfstream where a “Horse to Watch” from my list is running, so I’ll discuss that below as well.
Lastly, since I neglected to write about my new “Horses to Watch” from last week during the dark days, I’ll quickly list them at the end of this entry with some reasoning for their inclusion.
Aqueduct, Race 2: Maiden Claiming $16,000 at one mile and 70 yards for three year-olds
It’s hard to really like any of the proven runners in here, so why not take a shot? More Falling Star (#1) has shown absolutely nothing so far on the racetrack, but he gets a couple of important changes today. His connections have added blinkers and, more importantly, have gelded him since his last start. This is especially intriguing because he’s a horse with quite a bit of pedigree. His winning dam, Listen, is a half sister to Listen Here and Indy Bird, both of whom were stakes winning routers. Going back one more generation, he’s from the same family as multiple Grade I-winning router Listening as well as G2-winning router Beautiful Noise. I honestly have no idea if this horse will ever be able to race competitively, but if there’s ever a day to get on board and try to find out, it’s today.
$5 Win 1
Aqueduct, Race 6: Maiden Claiming $25,000 at one mile and 70 yards for NY-bred three year-olds
This is an oddball selection, but bear with me. It’s pretty easy to poke some holes in the favorites here [Edit: and it’s even easier now that two of them have been scratched]. Retired is consistent, but he’s had his chances and just doesn’t seem to possess the determination it takes to win a race. This field is also a bit tougher than the ones he’s been facing recently.
I’ve landed on the longest shot on the board, Slimshady (#1). He strikes me as a classic case of a horse who’s going to get to do what he’s likely always wanted for the first time today–and that’s contesting a dirt route. I know this guy is no great shakes, but his pedigree indicates that it’s very unlikely he wants to sprint. His sire, Raffie’s Majesty was best going 10 furlongs and throws predominantly two turn horses while his dam, Shady Lane, was a mutliple stakes winner going 1 1/8 miles. He’s a full brother to Royal Suspicion, who won an allowance race going two turns here on Monday.
$10 Win 1
Aqueduct, Race 7: Claiming $20,000N2L at six furlongs
I guess that you can make cases for a few others, but this race essentially boils down to whether you want Money Only or Tancredi. I strongly prefer the latter. Tancredi (#5) showed a few hints of ability in his first couple of starts. In his debut, he outgamed Stonecoldsteamer, who has gone on to have some mild success, and then really showed his mettle in his second start when contesting a fast pace and battling on gamely to be third in a race that completely collapsed. Since the layoff, he hasn’t really run back to those early races, but has also had some excuses. N. F.’s Destiny, who ran away from him in his return, is probably going to have a major say in some New York-bred stakes fairly soon, so it was a tough spot for him to make a real impact. Then, last time, he was reserved off a very slow pace which allowed Flying Zealous and Odea to spurt away from the field in the stretch after running one-two the entire way. Both of those runners are solid allowance horses so Tancredi is taking a huge drop in class today. He has enough speed to be perched just off of Rock Star Charlie early and should have enough left in the tank to hold off Money Only late. I see him as a very likely winner.
$15 Win 5 (WINNER; Payout: $48.75)
Aqueduct, Race 9: Claiming $12,500B at one mile
This is probably the most interesting race on the card. Afternoon Treat is going to be a strong favorite for Rudy Rodriguez, but I’m not sure that he really wants to go two turns and am concerned about the way his Beyer speed figures have tailed off lately. He can win, but I don’t want him at a short price when there are other interesting alternatives.
Good New Shoes (#2) ran too well to lose last time when attending the pace, spurting clear in the stretch, and then just getting nailed on the line by a classy rival in Bail Out the Banks. He has back races early in his three year-old season to suggest that there could be even better things to come and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him move forward off his last effort. He’s definitely a major contender.
I’m also interested in Good Karma (#6), who really tailed off at the end of last year, but got some time off and returned with a prep races versus some tougher allowance foes. Now he drops into this conditioned claimer after a sharp workout during the interim. He should get a fair pace in front of him with Handsome Harbor, Good New Shoes, Cinder Cone, and Afternoon Treat all possessing some tactical speed. If he can remember how to run halfway decent race, he should be coming hard at the end.
$12 Win 2
$8 Win 6
And now for my “Horse to Watch” at Gulfstream…
Gulfstream, Race 8: Maiden Special Weight at 1 3/8 miles on the turf
Timeless Indy (#7) is the morning line favorite and deservedly so. Offlee Fast came back to validate his last race with a strong performance against Capo Bastone, albeit with the aid of a bias. Timeless Indy may have even been best in that race after getting away slowly and having Rosario take him so far out of the race early. He had the right idea given the pace, but the winner just never came back as can sometimes happen on the turf down there. Timeless Indy showed in his debut that he possesses much more early speed than he displayed last time and I expect him John Velazquez to place him closer to the pace here. This is also a much softer field than last time. In fact, I only see two other horses who can possibly upset and they happen to be coupled in the wagering.
“Horse to Watch” After the Bell (#1) is the half of the entry that I’m most interested in since I thought he ran much better than it looks on paper in his turf debut last time. The pace was agonizingly slow and Ruthless Alley was able to wire the field. After the Bell rated back in last early and cut the corner at the top of the stretch, but never had a realistic chance to make a late impact given the race flow. All the layoff lines concern me a bit, but this one is really bred to be a turf horse. He’s a full bother to Country Star, who is best known for winning a couple Grade I races on synthetic, but was really more of a turf type, and a half-brother to the allowance turf horse Liston. The distance should only help him stay more in the game early and I’d want him more than proven losers at this level like Punctual Jeff and Lime Drop Kid.
I also don’t mind that you get Street Map (#1A) in the entry as well. He did no running in that debut over in England, but I find it interesting that they immediately bring him stateside and add Lasix, which Darley/Godolphin have not used readily with their youngsters over the past year. I wonder if he bled in that race for them to make such a drastic change. He’s certainly got the pedigree to be a good one since his dam is a full sister to Johann Quatz, a Group I winner in France who was second in the 1994 Breeders’ Cup Mile.
$10 Win 1
$5 Exacta Box 1/7
New “Horses to Watch” [I will add some comments shortly.]
Vizir (February 16, Race 7)
Swakopmund (February 16, Race 9)
Incognito (February 17, Race 3)
Current Event (February 18, Race 6)