There are no stakes on this final Saturday of the spring meet at Aqueduct, but there are still some interesting races that offer some decent wagering opportunities. I know there’s rain in the forecast for Friday evening so I’m hoping that the turf races stay on the grass.
Race 4: Claiming $15,000B at five and one-half furlongs
Bwana Booyah and Ganador have to hook up at the start here and due to the likely duel there’s a good chance that this race will be falling apart late. “Horse to Watch” Little Dale (#5) didn’t do much running last time despite going very wide, but he had run too well in his prior efforts for me to believe he’s just gone off form. There’s no alarming layoff so I’m going to assume he returns to his better efforts here. Either of his races in February, and especially that third place finish three back when he was completely eliminated on the turn and re-rallied, would make him tough here. I’ll use him to win and behind the very logical Terminus (#4) in the exacta.
$10 Win 5
$5 Exacta 4-5
Race 5: Maiden Special Weight at six furlongs for NY-breds
The thinking here is simple. This is not the strongest New York-bred maiden field and M P Joe (#7) has run pretty well three times in a row now in spite of severe traffic issues and wide trips orchestrated by an inexperienced rider. Today he gets a huge switch to Eddie Castro, the best jockey who has been on him in his career, and I expect a top effort, which should be good enough to run these down so long as the firsters aren’t too special.
$10 Win 7 (WINNER; Payout: $38.50)
Race 6: Optional Claiming $25,000/N1X at 1 1/16 miles on the turf for NY-breds
It’s pretty clear that East of Danzig is the best horse in the race but he feels almost a bit too obvious for me. He’s coming off a layoff and has only raced against New York-breds sporadically throughout his career. He can certainly win, but I think Dual Citizen (#1) is just as good when he’s on his game and he’ll likely be three times the price. If you’re looking for an excuse for his last race, just go watch it (replay). He was in trouble just a few strides out of the gate when he got sandwiched in a tight spot entering the clubhouse turn and just could never settle until it was too late. Alan Garcia sensed that he was going to put in a top effort so he just eased him up coming to the top of the stretch. He lost by 19 lengths because he was never asked for run at any point in the race, not because he ran quite that badly. He was facing some solid horses at Tampa in those starter handicaps, but even so it seems like he usually saves his best races for David Duggan in New York. I like that Cornelio Velasquez climbs aboard and I think he could offer fair value here.
$10 Win 1
Race 8: Optional Claiming $62,500/N2X at 1 1/16 miles on the turf for fillies and mares
I was having a lot of trouble with this race when I first was going through it and wasn’t even going to venture to make a selection, but upon further consideration I think I’ve found the horse to bet. This is a solid group of fillies and mares, but based upon prior form I think only one of them has the potential to go onto be a factor in graded stakes this year and that’s Zultanite (#1). Zultanite was plagued by inconsistency last year but when she was on her game she was seriously good. Her race in the Sands Point (G2) where she was just a neck behind Better Lucky and Regalo Mia looks especially good in retrospect considering what those two have gone on to accomplish. The fact that she ran so poorly on some good and yielding turf courses is a concern with rain in the forecast, but I’m hoping the freshening has done her well and will pick her to win this.
$10 Win 1
Race 10: Maiden Special Weight at one mile on the turf for NY-breds
It’s time to revisit a replay to explain my selection and his placement on my “Horses to Watch” list. Cash Your Ticket (#9) didn’t have any serious traffic trouble in his turf debut last time, but he never really got a chance to factor in the outcome given his trip (replay – he’s #7 this day). He was away from the gate pretty slowly and took up a position at the back of the pack, which seemed like it wouldn’t be an issue after a first quarter in 23 1/5 seconds. However, the scenario quickly changed. The next quarter was run in 26 seconds as the pace slowed to a crawl down the backstretch. The field bunched, but Cash Your Ticket was racing in traffic and couldn’t really advance his position. Rosario was forced to wait until the field was in the stretch to even begin to ask Cash Your Ticket for run and even then was mired down on the rail. Finally, at the eighth pole, he was maneuvered to the outside and Cash Your Ticket came with a very good late run to pass a few horses in the final strides. I think he really handled the turf, which is no surprise given the grass pedigree in his dam’s second family and with more luck today I think he’s a major player at a fair price.
I’ll use him to win and in the exacta behind the logical Make a Decision (#10), who happens to be a half-sister to top NY-bred turf mare J’ray (who happens to be the dam of M Six (#6)–who I’m not using–so I guess that makes Make a Decision that one’s uncle?)
$15 Win 9
$5 Exacta 10-9