Aqueduct, Race 4: Claiming $12,500N3L at six furlongs for fillies and mares
I thought that I was being pretty clever with this pick, but I just noticed this morning that Andy Serling has landed on the same horse, so perhaps I won’t get quite the price I was anticipating. I just thought that there was a lot of speed in this race and no obvious closing option to take as an alternative. Nine Loves is probably the best option of the pace horses since she really has been facing better competition out of town and has displayed some new-found consistency lately. I am against horses like Jewel in the Sky and Dixie Sparkle, who rarely put in top efforts when they don’t make the lead. Dixie Sparkle also is not a horse you want to bet on a fast track as all of her success has come over wet surfaces.
Perhaps she’s just not good enough to step up and fill this role, but Castles Burning (#4) is the only runner that I can say might benefit from a contested pace up front. She hasn’t done much sprinting lately, but I’m not convinced that she isn’t actually a little bit better going shorter. Chris Decarlo has been riding her as a one-run closer in her last few starts and, while it hasn’t quite worked out yet, that mindset should allow him to give her a perfect ride from off the pace today.
$10 Win 4
Aqueduct, Race 6: The Busanda at one mile and 70 yards for three year-old fillies
Flipcup and Alpaca Fina figure to vie for favoritism in this filly counterpart to the featured Jerome. They can both win, but neither holds such a strong speed figure edge over the field that I’d want to take them at short prices. Alpaca Fina also has to answer the distance question, although she is bred to go this far.
I’ve landed on the two Pletcher runners since they are going to be decent prices and you can make a case that they are no worse than the two favorites. Fierce Boots (#2) actually ran a better race last time than the official running line would have you believe. She broke with the field from the rail, but then ducked to the inside a few strides out of the gate, giving up about three or four lengths as they crossed over onto the main oval. Fierce Boots does not have to ridden as a closer—she just had to play catch up all the way down the backstretch and around the turn last time after the incident just out of the gate. All things considered, I thought she stayed on pretty well last time and was actually galloping up alongside the winner just past the wire. She’s bred to go longer as she’s a half-sister to Power Broker and I’m inclined to take her instead of Alpaca Fina as the filly I want out of that allowance race.
Spanish Gold (#3) looks a bit slower on paper, but you can argue that she has actually been facing comparable competition in some of her maiden races. I remember Maggie Wolfendale had liked her last time after the brief freshening and she ran the best race of her career after chasing wide on the turn. She’s certainly bred to prefer two turns so perhaps Irad Ortiz, Jr. will send her to the front early and just try to wire the field. I’d say she’s worth trying as one of the longer prices in this evenly matched field.
$10 Win 2 (WINNER; Payout: $95.00)
$10 Win 3
Aqueduct, Race 8: The Jerome (G2) at one mile and 70 yards for three year-olds
I’m a big fan of Noble Moon (#1) moving forward down the Derby trail in New York and this race should prove to be a perfect stepping stone as he goes on to face tougher foes in the coming months. I know that many—myself included—attributed his debut win to the gold rail at Belmont, which was particularly strong throughout September. However, he did battle for the lead through contested fractions and was game in the stretch to turn back a well-meant Pletcher runner despite never changing leads.
However, it was his race in the Nahsua (G2) that stamped him as a horse who could have a say in the major three year-old races. It’s worth viewing the head-on replay of the start to get a sense of what happened to Noble Moon early. Some horses inside of him took a right turn coming out of the gate and he bumped hard and squeezed right out of position to the back of the pack. Alex Solis did the right thing thereafter by allowing him to find his stride down the backstretch before launching a bid on the far turn. And he really did come running with quite a move as he circled the field while very wide coming to the quarter pole. Forced out even wider into the stretch he stayed on well through the lane to be third while cutting into Cairo Prince’s margin of victory.
Two turns should be no problem for this son of Malibu Moon since he has the sort of mile and a quarter pedigree that you can only hope any serious Derby contender would bring to the table. His dam won only twice, but was clearly at her best around two turns with her finest performance coming in a 9-furlong allowance race at Saratoga. There are plenty of classy route winners tracing back through this female family—a lineage that would definitely be worthy of a more in-depth analysis should Noble Moon prevail today.
The win wager on Noble Moon is more symbolic than anything else since he will probably drop into odds-on territory. I’m mildly against morning line second choice Scotland, who steps up in class and will instead use Matuszak (#5) and Classic Giacnroll (#7) behind the favorite in the exacta.
$25 Win 1 (WINNER; Payout: $45.00)
$5 Exacta 1 with 5/7 (WINNER; Payout: $34.50)
Aqueduct, Race 9: Claiming $12,500 at six furlongs for fillies and mares
This is a wide open race and with logical choice Guyana Princess coming out it becomes even tougher. I’ve landed on Gabrilicious (#2), who gets a positive trainer change to Rudy Rodriguez and a very positive rider switch to Irad Ortiz, Jr., who has been in top form lately. I know that she may have gone off form since the summer, but perhaps the change of scenery can wake her up. She should get plenty of pace to run into with speed coming from the outside so I’ll be hoping Irad can work out a rail trip from off the pace. She does have some races going back to this summer at Finger Lakes that would make her competitive so I think she’s worth a bet at double-digit odds.
$10 Win 2