I found five horses in my rewatching of last week’s replays that I think are worth following moving forward:
So Fashion (April 3, Race 6) – I liked So Fashion (#6) a bit in this spot and, while she did break slowly and was all but eliminated at the start, I feel that her jockey made no attempt to get her into the race. As you can see from the head-on replay, aside from a light hand ride for about a sixteenth of a mile at the top of the stretch, he makes no attempt to motivate So Fashion. On paper it will appear that something went terribly wrong with this drop in class and she could perhaps be unsound. However, the replay reveals that her jockey just gave up soon after the start and was saving her for another day. I’ll be interested to see where she shows up next because up until recently, she had a lot more to offer than this non-performance might suggest.
Cash Your Ticket (April 6, Race 3) – Cash Your Ticket’s (#7) only real trouble here was his slow start, but that put him behind the eight ball in a race where the pace really slowed significantly on the backstretch. It’s obvious in the stretch that once Cash Your Ticket finally got off the rail he was full of run, but was just closing too late. If this race had taken place at Belmont perhaps his rider would have felt confident enough to go wide on the turn and get him into a proper position to mount a rally. As it was, he could only be let loose to run all-out for an eighth of a mile. I think you can make a case that he was best in here, his turf debut, and I’ll be very interested in him moving to Belmont’s turf course next month.
Big City Boy (April 6, Race 5) – I’ve heard many make the case that Aqueduct’s main track was playing to inside speed through the first part of the day on April 6th, Wood Memorial day. Yet even if that was not the case I’d be interested in Big City Boy (#11) moving forward. He broke about two lengths slowly and, due to losing position early, he could just never quite secure a ground-saving spot heading for the turn. Jose Lezcano did his best to only go three-wide around the turn while sacrificing an opportunity to try and make up some ground. At the top of the stretch, he swung Big City Boy out five or six-wide to make a rally and he was able to pick up a few horses late while making no real impact. This horse is not a deep-closer and prefers to rally from just three or four lengths off the pace. With a better break and more favorable racing surface I think he can put forth a performance that is much better than what he displayed Saturday.
Ocala Jim (April 6, Race 6) – Ocala Jim (#9) strikes me as the sort of horse who was just not ready for his debut. He was very slow into stride out of the gate and was legitimately almost 20 lengths behind moving around the far turn. That is not a spot from which you could make a run on Saturday’s main track and he made no significant impact on the outcome of the race. However, he did pass a few horses late and was doing a bit of running in the stretch. Yet what really intrigues me about this horse is his pedigree, since he’s so obviously bred to stretch out. By E Dubai, he’s out of a mare who has produced Arkansas Derby winner Private Emblem and two-time turf route stakes winner Rhum. It’s also worth noting that many of his siblings have excelled on the turf and E Dubai has proven to be a good turf influence so I’ll be looking forward to betting this horse when he might switch surfaces at Belmont.
Fantastic Eyes (April 7, Race 4) – I’m not sure that Fantastic Eyes (#5) would have won this race with a better ride, but moves like the one she was forced to make just do not work on Aqueduct’s turf course. She secured a good position near the back of the pack early, which was the place to be in a race that came apart a bit late. Entering the far turn, Abel Lezcano clearly had plenty of horse under him and he panicked a bit. Watch the contrast between Fantastic Eyes’ run around the far turn and that of Celesta (#10), who was rallying just ahead of her in the yellow silks. Celesta’s jockey wisely sticks to the rail and saves a ton of ground while Fantastic Eyes swings five-wide midway around the turn to mount her rally. Her momentum causes her to be spun out even wider into the stretch and it becomes clear that she’s already used up most of her energy. Celesta, meanwhile, got a dream run up the rail and finished second. If these two show up in the same race next time, Celesta will be somewhere around 2-1 and Fantastic Eyes could be 30-1 when in fact she’s the one who probably ran the better race. This filly looked below average running on dirt this winter and has clearly moved way up on the turf, but that might not be so apparent in her printed running line.