Happy New Year, dear readers! And of course, Happy Birthday to all the Thoroughbreds out there.
I’m a little late with this entry so I’ll forgo any overly lengthy explanations of my selections. There is not much going on at Aqueduct today so I’ve also discussed some races from Gulfstream that interested me.
Aqueduct, Race 1: Starter Allowance $20,000 at six furlongs
I won’t bore you with an exhaustive post-race analysis, but I will say—since I’m not often given reason to do so—that Non Stop received a perfect ride from Abel Lezcano. I had suspected that this horse was in very good form now that David Cannizzo had finally figured out how to deal with his quirks and that proved to be the case.
$15 Win 2 (WINNER; Payout: $51.75)
Aqueduct, Race 3: Affectionately Stakes at 1 1/16 miles for fillies and mares
Royal Lahaina (#3) was very powerful in victory last time and I’m beginning to wonder if she’s just a horse who loves racing at Aqueduct, whether it be on the main track or the inner. Her chief rival again today is Centring, but that mare’s lack of early speed could work against her in such a short field. I also think Centring might be starting to tail off towards the end of an ambitious campaign as she had to be very hard ridden on the turn last time to even reach contention. Royal Lahaina looms as a very likely winner again today.
$15 Win 3
Aqueduct, Race 9: Maiden Special Weight at six furlongs for NY-breds
I’m guessing that Horatio and Handy Stan will go off as the two favorites in this race, but I’m more interested in Between the Lines (#1), who is making his second career start after a brief freshening. He actually ran quite well after making a wide run around the turn before flattening out late in his debut against what was likely a tougher maiden field. He was given some time and should be set for a better performance at six furlongs today.
$10 Win 1 (WINNER; Payout: $57.00)
Gulfstream, Race 8: The Voodoo Dancer Stakes at 7 1/2 furlongs on the turf for fillies and mares
I’ve been waiting quite a while to capitalize on some of Tokyo Time’s (#8) tough trips. Javier Castellano put in two of his worst rides of 2013 aboard this filly in the Herecomesthebride Stakes (G3) last March at Gulfstream, a race that she should have won, and then last time out at Belmont. I know that it may look like a disappointing effort against inferior competition, but it is necessary to watch the replay to properly assess her performance.
Tapicat is clearly Tokyo Time’s primary competition, but I also think she will be a much shorter price and I’m not convinced she has more natural ability than my selection. If Tokyo Time did get anything positive out of her last race, she should have at least gained more experience racing in behind horses, which could serve her well in a race so loaded with early zip.
$20 Win 8
Gulfstream, Race 9: The Gulfstream Park Derby at one mile for three year-olds
There is a lot of guesswork to be done here. I don’t want any of the sprinters stretching out for the first time as horses like Wildcat Red and Aaron’s Orient are major question marks to get the one mile distance with other speed in the race. Best Plan Yet is perfectly logical, but he will also likely go favored and I don’t see him as having any major edge of this field.
I’ve landed on Gone as Wind (#2) and Grand Arrival (#8) as my two price plays. Gone as Wind ran pretty well last time in his first start at a route of ground. He was forced to race in tight quarters in between rivals on the turn and then again entering the stretch. All things considered he stayed on well to be third while less than five lengths behind the promising Coup de Grace, who would be odds-on in this spot. Grand Arrival needs a major form reversal, but I was impressed by his races at Saratoga and think the two months off since the Nashua may have benefited him.