Today I’ll be focusing on Aqueduct since they’ve put together what is easily the most interesting card so far this year in New York. I also found a couple of races from Gulfstream that merit discussion as well. Let’s get to it:
Aqueduct, Race 1: Claiming $12,500 at six furlongs
Ultimo Principe looks pretty tough on paper, but I’m skeptical. He didn’t show his customary early speed last time and now drops in class to a bottom level claimer. Perhaps he’ll win at a short price, but I think it’s worth taking a shot against him. My “Horse to Watch” Rich Hero (#2) was a major disappointment last time, but he gets a very positive rider switch to Channing Hill and his best races put him right there. He’s spent the majority of this winter facing tougher company and found an easier spot two back, but was hindered by traffic troubles. Now he drops to an even lower level and I expect him to be very competitive here at a price.
$10 Win 2
Aqueduct, Race 5: Optional Claiming $50,000/N2X at one mile and 70 yards
Perhaps it’s not apparent when looking at his past performances, but having watched “Horse to Watch” Socialsaul’s (#5) last two races, I can say that he’s a much improved horse as a five year-old. He gave the classy and fast Saratoga Snacks some real trouble two back and last time was rated behind a dawdling early pace before steadying at the top of the stretch. He made a late run outside to grab third, but I think he may have been best in there. Today he figures to get a stalking trip just off of the speedy All of the Above and I think his morning line price is good value.
Naturally, I also like Percussion (#1) and Mordi’s Miracle (#6) quite a bit as well. Percussion has recently shown himself to be a very good horse and now gets a huger trainer/jockey switch to Pletcher and Velazquez. He’s a major threat in here. I also feel like I should stay faithful to Mordi’s Miracle, who I’ve been on board with the last couple of times and seemingly has finally gotten straightened out by his connections. So, in addition to betting Socialsaul to win, I’ll make an unusual move and box these three in the trifecta.
$10 Win 5
$2 Trifecta Box 1/5/6
Aqueduct, Race 6: Optional Claiming $14,000/N1X at one mile for NY-breds
I had a lot of trouble with this race, which is why I ended up on a seemingly ridiculous long shot. I’m assuming that Master Cip and Sea to Sky are going to go favored here. Master Cip may be actually be a much lower price than that one based on the manner in which he’s been bet in his three previous starts. Sea to Sky can win, but is nothing special, and Master Cip must prove he can get this distance with early pressure from Big City Boy and Cousin Michael. I’ve landed on Jonrah (#3). I thought had put in a really solid run last time into one of the slowest paces we’ve seen all meet. Flying Zealous and Odea both came back to win out of that race despite benefiting from very favorable circumstances last time. Jonrah has only routed on dirt once in his career, but that was as a new three-year-old. He’s bred to appreciate this distance and Tom Bush has positive numbers stretching horses out. Jonrah could take a big step forward here in his second start back from the layoff and will certainly be a nice price.
$5 Win 3
Aqueduct, Race 8: Maiden Special Weight at six furlongs for NY-bred three year-olds
It’s worth watching Night Editor’s (#4) race two back. He was moving well along the rail, but got completely steadied out of the race when caught in behind some fading frontrunners. Once wheeled to the outside he continued on and made a nice late run to be second behind a runaway winner. I don’t know what happened last time, but perhaps he’s just not a two turn horse. He’s bred for dirt and showed some ability two back, so perhaps the turnback in distance is just what he needs.
I’ll also use Hengroen (#9), who did no running in his one dirt start, but really improved second time out on turf. He really doesn’t have any turf pedigree, since he’s by Utopia and his dam is a half-sister to Evening Attire. I’m thinking that he just improved with racing and now is returning with a string of very quick works for Pat Kelly. He’ll be a price, but picks of Rajiv Maragh and could be live.
$10 Win 4
$5 win 9
Aqueduct, Race 10: The Gotham Stakes (G3) at 1 1/16 miles for three year-olds
I need to stay faithful to Escapefromreality (#3) here after the huge run he gave me last time. I know that Andy Serling would call him a “last time was the time horse,” but I believe he ran even better than it looks on paper. This is a horse who had never rated before, but allowed Jose Ortiz to take him back behind a slow pace and responded well in the stretch. Everyone was talking about Revolutionary’s spectacular gallop-out in the Withers, but I must have been watching different video. In the head-on, you can clearly see that Escapefromreality rebroke when Revolutionary passed him and ran head-and-head with him all the way to the clubhouse turn. This is a very game horse who obviously does not like to lose races. I’m hoping that David Cohen can secure a ground saving trip and Escapefromreality may be just as good as anyone in this race.
$10 Win 3
Gulfstream, Race 1: Claiming $30,000-$25,000 N3L at one mile on the turf for fillies and mares
I don’t have that strong of a feeling for this race, but I think Rough Winter (#4) is a little interesting. She showed in New York that she’s much better on turf than dirt and gets a series of positive trainer switches. I know the distance is a question, but she’ll be a price.
$5 Win 4
Gulfstream, Race 6: Optional Claiming $25,000/N1X at one mile on the turf
Dangerous Lad’s (#4) last effort speaks for itself. I know that it was against cheaper company, but he made a huge late run over a turf course that was very speed favoring. George Weaver shows confidence by protecting him today and I think he’s very likely the best turf horse in this race.
$15 Win 4