Aqueduct, Race 4: Claiming $20,000N2L at one mile for fillies and mares
If the track is still playing to speed the way it was yesterday then Stately Cat will be very tough to run down. If it’s a fair track, which is what I’d like to assume, then I think she’s a vulnerable favorite. She is supposed to get some pace pressure from either Precious Franca or Should Make It today and is competing in a much tougher spot than she saw last time. I’m going to take a shot with two fillies who should be rallying from just off the pace. Bozique (#5) really came alive with a the class drop and stretchout in distance down in Florida and this positive barn change should only keep her moving in the right direction. Bird Fu (#8) has spent almost her entire career sprinting, but her pedigree is pretty clearly geared towards route racing. She’s really shown some solid finishing power recently and she could be a big threat if she appreciates the extra ground as much as I think she will. I’ll bet each of these two to win in hopes of taking down the favorite.
$10 Win 5
$5 Win 8
Aqueduct, Race 5: Claiming $30,000-$25,000N2L at six furlongs
He may not be the best horse in this race, but I think Poppa Loves Mambo (#3) is very likely to wire this field given the huge pace advantage he holds over this field. He’s just the only horse with early speed in a race with four other closers. The trainer switch to Jenna Antonucci is a subtle, but positive one and I’m hoping Irad Ortiz, Jr. can put him on the lead and not look back.
$10 Win 3
Aqueduct, Race 6: Maiden Special Weight at one mile for NY-bred fillies and mares
Funny Money can certainly win this race, but she offers no value. She was also pretty terrible as the 2-5 favorite in a weak field last time. I instead like my “Horse to Watch” She’s Stones Sis (#3). She’s run a bit better than it looks on paper in each of her first two races sprinting. On December 27th, she was forced to rally wide off that gold rail and last time she had to wait for room in the stretch and rally in traffic. As her name alludes to, she’s a half-sister to top sprinter and promising sire Bustin Stones, but being a Giant’s Causeway, this distance might move her forward. After all, it’s not like she has to be all that good to beat the uninspiring favorite.
$10 Win 3 (WINNER; Payout: $52.00)
Aqueduct, Race 8: Maiden Special Weight at six furlongs for fillies and mares
There are a number of ways you could go in this race. Saturday Nthe Park’s last race was pretty solid and the hike back up in class can be viewed as a sign of confidence. Masasi hasn’t quite lived up to the potential her pedigree would suggest is there, but her three races have been solid. Turboencabulator’s debut over Polytrack was excellent and she may have needed her comeback, so I wouldn’t count her out either. Even Sky River has the pedigree to be a good one since she’s a half-sister to graded stakes winning routers Keats and Fairbanks.
I’m going in a completely different direction though, and am taking “Horse to Watch” Kara’s Match Point (#4). While she didn’t do much running in her debut, she is coming out of the toughest race of any of these. I also think she had an excuse. I’m Mom’s Favorite and Ballerina Belle absolutely threw it down in the stretch that day and the winner came back to validate the strength of that race with a gutsy third place finish in the Cicada last weekend. Kara’s Match Point had the outside post that day (view the head-on) and was completely knocked off her feet at the start when the eventual winner, I’m Mom’s Favorite, made a right hand turn into her path. That incident seemed to really throw she and David Cohen off their games and he basically made the decision to not persevere and give her the race. He niggled at her a bit on the far turn, but kept her about five paths off the rail the entire way, and then gingerly hand rode her through the stretch. She clearly needed the race and has now come back with two fast workouts. Her pedigree says she’ll eventually want to route, but I think she could be a player at a big price in this spot.
$10 Win 1 (WINNER; Payout: $38.00)
For the final race today, we’re heading down to Gulfstream since a “Horse to Watch” from the list is running in their ninth race.
Gulfstream, Race 9: Optional Claiming $80,000/N3X at one mile on the turf for fillies and mares
“Horse to Watch” Baffle Me (#5) is very quick through the first part of her races and Joel Rosario really needs to get her to relax a bit if she’s going to be successful in this spot. However, unlike last time, there is no classy other speed horse like Pianist, so she could dictate the fractions on the front end. The Gulfstream turf course has been very kind to speed lately and Baffle Me should be especially tough to run down today. The only horse classy enough to possibly overcome the Baffle Me’s pace advantage is Peace Preserver (#4), so I’ll throw her into the exacta.
$10 Win 5 (WINNER; Payout: $36.00)
$5 Exacta 4-5
[3:44 p.m. update] – “Horse to Watch” She’s Stones Sis ($10.40) isn’t a very big filly, but she was very game through the stretch to hold off the well-meant firster Brandini in her first route try. The runner-up looks like she might be a filly with a future for H. James Bond as her dam is a product of the trainer’s top stakes runners Behrens and Transcendental.
[4:27 p.m. update] – The wagering said pretty definitively that “Horse to Watch” Kara’s Match Point ($7.60) was live today and it was correct. She’s really bred to stretch out further since she’s a Curlin and is out of a daughter of Jewel Princess. This could be an exciting prospect for Linda Rice.
[5:14 p.m update] – Today has ended a long drought for me as my “Horses to Watch” went 3-for-3. Baffle Me ($7.20) was the last of the triplet to come through as she wired the ninth race at Gulfstream while running hard every step of the way to record an impressive final time of 1:33 flat.