Aqueduct, Race 3: Maiden Claiming $20,000 at one mile for NY-breds
I had said that I was looking to bet “Horse to Watch” Polaris Dream (#2) back on the turf, but considering how this race came up, I’ll take my shot here. In his return from a 16-month layoff on March 28th, Jose Ortiz tried to do the right thing by saving ground coming to the top of the stretch. However, a wall of horses developed in front of him at the quarter pole and the comment “rough trip 5/16-1/8pl” sums things up (replay). After waiting for room and steadying for an eighth of a mile Ortiz wheeled Polaris Dream to the outside, but most of his momentum and willingness had dissipated. I believe he could have run much faster with a clean trip, but he shouldn’t even need to improve off that effort to prove best of this soft bunch.
$15 Win 2
Aqueduct, Race 6: Starter handicap $15,000 at six furlongs
With heavy favorite Rigby scratched, I’m very interested in Point Taken (#7). I think he’s more of a one-turn horse so I love that Jacobson is turning him back. His last sprint race was actually very good and in watching the race (replay), quite miraculous that he got up since he was steadied briefly when altering course in upper stretch and came flying in the final sixteenth to nail Shotgun City on the line. He also ran much, much better than it looks on paper when he rallied wide against the strongest rail bias of the winter on December 27th. There should be enough speed for him to close into between Quick Money, who has to go from the rail, and Pleaseandthankyou. He won’t be anywhere near his morning line odds, but I think he’s the most likely winner.
$15 Win 7
Aqueduct, Race 7: Optional Claiming $35,000/N1X at 1 1/16 miles on the turf
I’ll be very surprised if Kibosh (#3) gets beat in this race. I’m not thrilled with all the layoff lines in Riolama’s past performances and I wonder if she wants a softer turf course than she’ll get today. South Shore probably isn’t even as good as Riolama and she’s a bit dressed up off an easy win versus a pretty weak maiden field last time. Kibosh ran an excellent race against the very good Formative last time down at Gulfstream and showed an affinity for this turf course last fall. I expect her to be a major player in the New York-bred filly and mare turf division this year and this race should be a nice little confidence boost on the way to bigger goals.
I will also use Kibosh in the exacta with Strategic Missile (#4), who should play out to be the lone speed in this race and may hang on for a large piece of the pie even if she doesn’t really want to go this far.
$15 Win 3 (WINNER; Payout: $41.25)
$2 Exacta Box 3/4
Aqueduct, Race 8: Starter Optional Claiming $25,000 at six furlongs
Coaltown Legend and So Scott are clearly the two best horses in this race, but the former has to deal with a long layoff and both of them will be up against it from a pace perspective. I suppose Poppa Loves Mambo will try for the lead, but he’s not really that fast. I’m going to try Shotinthefog (#6), who should be in close attendance to the pace early and may get the jump on the two favorites. His last race, the first in the barn of Danny Gargan, is much better than it looks on paper. Despite the fact that there were only four horses in the race, he was forced to go four-wide around the entire turn and was actually pushed out into the five-path turning for home. He stayed on well in the stretch and deserves a lot more credit than that 73 Beyer would suggest. He’s run faster races in the past and I expect him to be a major player at a bit of a price.
$10 Win 6
Aqueduct, Race 9: Maiden Claiming $35,000-$25,000 at 1 1/16 miles on the turf
I admit that I’m grasping at straws a bit here, but I’m just not thrilled with the favorites, Unprecedented and Barzini. I didn’t think either of them did that much running in their most recent races and if someone else can step up with a halfway decent effort they can win. I’m hoping that will be first time turfer Fuschero (#6). I know that Fusaichi Pegasus doesn’t exactly say turf, but Cherokee Run is a decent grass influence and there’s a great deal of turf pedigree in this horse’s second family. His dam, Runchero, never tried the turf, but is out of a dam whose only two wins came on grass. That second dam is also a half-sister to the dam of Zaidan, a Group I winner on the turf in Hong Kong. I know it’s a bit of a stretch since there’s no turf in the first generation, but he gets a good rider for this and will be a price.
$5 Win 6
[3:30 p.m. update] – Polaris Dream was a disappointment earlier, but Point Taken really ran the race I expected him to in the just completed sixth. Unfortunately Quick Money just happened to choose today to get back to the form which sees him recording 90+ Beyer figures and Point Taken had to settle for second.
[4:12 p.m. update] – Kibosh ($5.50) got it done at a very fair price despite being mildly impeded on the far turn when Sally’s Dream’s rider lost the irons.