Aqueduct, Race 1: Maiden Special Weight at one mile and 70 yards for three year-old fillies
Dowager (#1) is obviously the filly to beat here. She was facing some quality maidens in Florida and a repeat of her last effort will probably be good enough to take this. This half-sister to Godolphin’s Consortium could potentially even take another step forward today since she signaled she’s feeling good with a bullet work over at Belmont 10 days ago. While the rest of these fillies have a tough task ahead of them trying to beat the favorite, there is one challenger who I feel may be a lot better than she’s shown as of yet.
Shortbread Scotty (#6) was dangled for a high-priced claiming tag in her first start, which shouldn’t be seen as a negative since she was purchased for a meager $24,000 as a two year-old in training. In her debut, she attained good position close to the pace as they broke from the gate, but about halfway down the backside she seemed to lose her action and drifted out, losing a few lengths in the process. Perhaps she didn’t like dirt in her face, because Keiber Coa swung her to the far outside and she ran four to five-wide outside the other horses around the turn. She stayed on well through the stretch to pick up third, but perhaps could have been closer under different circumstances. Today she stretches out in distance, which should really help since her dam and siblings all excelled routing on both dirt and turf.
$5 Win 6
$5 Exacta 1-6
Aqueduct, Race 2: Optional Claiming $35,000/N2X at one mile for fillies and mares
Guyana Princess (#1) is almost certainly going to be an overlay with the switch to the low-profile apprentice rider. I actually think this is a positive jockey switch and Pierre Tomas should fit this one-run closer perfectly. Tomas has shown with limited mounts that he realizes the importance of staying on the rail and can finish well with a closer. There should be at least a fair pace here between fellow speed runners Quiet Sunshine and Carameaway, so I’m hoping Guyana Princess’s late kick can carry her past horses like Erin Enchanted and Royal Suspicion, who are likely winners themselves, but will be half the price of my selection.
$10 Win 1
Aqueduct, Race 8: Starter Handicap $15,000 at one mile and 70 yards
“Horse to Watch” Sacred Ground (#5) was putting in a good late run from far back at this same level last time when he ran into traffic trouble in the stretch and lost all of his momentum. I’m not sure that he could have won with a cleaner trip, but he certainly would have been much closer at the end. With the scratches some of the pace help has been taken out of the race, but I still believe Sacred Ground is every bit as good as Itsagoodtendollars or Chairman Now and he’ll certainly be a bigger price after being beaten by those two last time. I’ll take my shot and hope he can mow them down in the lane.
$15 Win 5
[1:27 p.m. update] – Shortbread Scotty put in a decent effort to be third as the odds-on favorite Dowager was off the board. Then Guyana Princess got exactly the sort of trip that I thought she might, but was second best to Erin Enchanted who was allowed to be up on the pace when none of the other speeds went early. It’s always frustrating when the paces fail to materialize, but the winner was probably best in this case.
[4:29 p.m. update] – Sacred Ground came with a nice late run, but fell just a nose short of Itsagoodtendollars, who battled back gamely to hold on. While it’s disappointing to finish second once again, I can’t deny that the winner was best. Still, Sacred Ground validated his placement on the “Horses to Watch” list. It just would have been nice to have him get up and boost that ROI.