It’s the final day of racing in 2013 and there’s an enticing guaranteed Pick-6 payout featuring a double-carryover at Aqueduct. It actually looks pretty playable as long as you’re able to make some sense of the seventh and ninth races, which appear to be wide open at first glance.
I’ve posted opinions on a few of those races and have included my take on the aforementioned tough fields that were assembled near the end of the card.
Happy New Year, everyone!
Aqueduct, Race 2: Maiden Special Weight at 5 1/2 furlongs for two year-olds
The two main players here are coming out of the same race on November 20th at Aqueduct. Neither horse took any meaningful money that day, but they both ran respectable races. Father Johns Pride rocketed to the front and briefly appeared to be a threat to wire the field before backing up in the final three-sixteenths of a mile. Vona chased that foe early before fading approaching the stretch.
As long as none of the firsters are taking an inordinate amount of play, I’m going to lean heavily towards Vona (#1) as the second time starter I want. Bill Mott does much better with second time starters on the dirt than he does with horses making their debuts. I’m also getting the sense that he’s tightened the screws on this horse since the addition of blinkers and quick workout ten days ago signal that an improved effort is forthcoming. It’s also noteworthy that Vona sold for $275,000 at the two year-old sale despite having no real pedigree to speak of. That high price tag was undoubtedly due to a very fast 33 1/5 seconds three furlong workout so this individual apparently possesses more speed than he displayed in his debut.
$15 Win 1
Aqueduct, Race 4: Maiden Special Weight at 5 1/2 furlongs for two year-old fillies
Sun and Moon is clearly the horse to beat based on her first two efforts while first time starter Queen to Be is the logical “other horse” most players will use as a back up in their Pick-6 sequences. I’ll try to be a bit more creative and will take a shot with Aqua Regia (#7), who figures to run much better in her second career start. Tom Albertrani has put together some impressive numbers with maiden second time starters on the dirt who are treated with Lasix for the first time: 7-for-21 (33%) with an ROI of $4.55. Aqua Regia ran like a filly who needed her first race as she was slowly away from the gate and continued on greenly thereafter. I wouldn’t be surprised to see her show more speed today and run a more professional race. Whether that makes her good enough to beat Sun and Moon and a well-meant Pletcher firster remains to be seen, but a price in the 10-1 range should make her worth a bet.
$10 Win 7
Aqueduct, Race 7: Optional Claiming $75,000/N1X at 5 1/2 furlongs for NY-bred two year-olds
At first glance this race looks pretty tough since almost all of the competitors are capable of running a Beyer in the low to mid-70s, but I think a closer look reveals two standouts.
Sol the Freud (#3) will probably go favored and he should. Any of his first three races would make him very tough to beat in this spot. In his debut he disposed of a well-meant Groupthink and then in his next two starts he faced unfavorable setups. In the Law Enforcement Stakes at Saratoga he was sent up to battle for the lead between horses through fast opening fractions that took a heavy toll on the horse directly to his inside today, Double Gold. Sol the Freud survived the pace and was still around at the finish. He was given a short freshening after that race and returned in the Bertram F. Bongard where he ran much better than it appears. The Belmont main track was strongly favoring inside paths on that day and he chased three-wide much of the way before folding late in the stretch.
The problem with Sol the Freud is that his last race was disappointing, but he was also facing a much better horse in Empire Dreams that day. As long as he can sit off some of the other speed here I think he’ll be tough to beat.
I’ll use him with Sandcat (#7), who really should have won last time when he was hampered late by a drifting Geaux Mets. Two races back he got a curious ride that saw him drop back to last around the turn before trying to re-rally in the stretch. He was an expensive two year-old purchase and I think he’s one of the few horses in this race that you could realistically expect to take another step forward.
I’ll box these two in the exacta and would strongly lean towards them in any multi-race wagers.
$5 Exacta Box 3/7
Aqueduct, Race 9: Optional Claiming $14,000/N1X at one mile and 70 yards for NY-breds
I found this—the final leg of the Pick-6 and last race of 2013 in New York—to be very confusing. Petrocelli is the most logical winners, but he does do a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde act as sometimes he will just completely fail to show up regardless of surface or conditions. He’s not a horse I want to rely on at a relatively short price so I’ve gone looking elsewhere. Tycoon Cat and Here Comes Tommy appear to have decent chances but I have questions about both of them running their best races at two turns on the dirt.
I’ve ultimately decided to try for a price with Sunnysider (#1). I’m starting to wonder if this horse did not really improve on the turf but rather just wanted a route of ground all along. He certainly transferred his decent turf form to a one-turn dirt mile last time and finished up strongest of all across the wire. I’m going to hope that this stretch out to two turns does the trick and allows Sunnysider to run a Beyer in the mid-70s, which may be good enough to win this. After all, why couldn’t he take after his older half-sister Go Unbridled, who is a multiple stakes winner at nine furlongs on the dirt?