Aqueduct, Race 2: Claiming $25,000 at one mile and 70 yards
This is a paceless race on paper, which is why I have gone with the horse that I believe possesses the most early speed. Tug of War (#7) would have been an odds-on favorite to beat this field a year ago, but things have gone awry over the past 12 months. Nevertheless, he returned with a solid effort two races back when finishing second to Socialsaul at today’s distance after leading early on. He didn’t have much of a chance to make an impact last time when rated behind a slow pace and I’m hoping Jose Ortiz is more aggressive early today.
$10 Win 7
Aqueduct, Race 3: Allowance N1X at one mile for NY-bred fillies and mares
These are my best bets of the day. In my eyes, Prize Taker (#1) and A Prettydixie (#6) lay over this field after racing against the rail bias on January 25th. (Watch the replay.) Prize Taker was actually against another rail bias in her prior race as well, on January 10th. Both are perfectly capable of getting this one mile distance, yet I cannot say the same about morning line favorite Ascended Fever, who appears to be better on turf anyway.
Both Prize Taker and A Prettydixie receive positive rider switches today and I expect them to fill out the exacta. If either goes off at odds of over 3-1, that would only be a bonus.
$15 Win 1
$15 Win 6 (WINNER; Payout: $55.50)
$5 Exacta Box 1/6
Aqueduct, Race 5: Maiden Special Weight at 1 1/16 miles for NY-bred three year-olds
Forever Utopia and Tapitation are the logical choices here, but I’m going to go in a different direction with a horse who I believe can take a major step forward today. Horse With No Name (#9) is bred to run much farther than six furlongs being by Giant’s Causeway out of a Pleasant Tap mare who is a half-sister to Cowboy Cal. He was off slowly and took a few furlongs to find his stride in his debut, but he did start to pass horses on the turn and continued to stay on well through the stretch. He finished sixth, yet on the gallop out he continued to pass horses and actually came up the rail to run by the leaders by the time they hit the clubhouse turn.
I think this stretchout in distance will really allow Horse With No Name to flourish and I expect him to have a say in the outcome here.
$10 Win 9
Aqueduct, Race 7: Maiden Special Weight at one mile for three year-old fillies
I prefer Aqua Regia over Sun and Moon, who had a much more favorable trip last time and seems less likely to get this route of ground. However, that said, I picked Aqua Regia last time at 14-1 and she’s going to be a much shorter price today. Furthermore, I’m not sure how good that race was overall so it’s worth exploring some other options.
Rosedale Arch (#5) made a decent showing in her debut going a distance that is probably shorter than her best and I thought she was an intriguing long shot when she stretched out to a mile for her second start. After showing good early speed chasing the pace, she just stopped running at the quarter pole and ended up losing by almost 40 lengths. The effort was just too bad for me to believe and the connections may be thinking the same as there’s no drop in class today. Albertrani adds blinkers and Irad Ortiz, Jr. takes the mount so perhaps today will be the day that she builds on her debut and steps up going this distance. She’s going to be a much larger price than her stablemate and she’s the one I want.
$10 Win 5
Aqueduct, Race 8: Allowance N1X at six furlongs for fillies and mares
Superior Sarah and Aliana will go off as the two favorites and they probably are the most likely winners based on their superior speed figures. However, Aliana is a filly who likes to race close up to the pace in a race where the early fractions figure to be pretty quick. Superior Sarah has the right running style, but has shown a propensity to hang late and not secure the win when the chips are down.
I’m going to take a shot against both of them with Hot Rendezvous (#11). This filly has really stepped up her game since being switched to dirt by trainer Gary Contessa towards the end of 2013. Her win two back is fast enough to give her a chance here, especially considering the favorable pace scenario she will get. Her last race appears to be a weaker effort going two turns, but it was arguably the strongest race of her career. She was off very slowly, which had her back in last early and then was forced to steady and clip heels on the far turn trying to make her late run. Even after that incident she pulled it together in time to pass a few horses late. (Watch the replay.)
If Hot Rendezvous can transfer that performance level back to this sprint distance I think she’ll have a legitimate chance to post the upset.
$10 Win 11 (WINNER; Payout: $54.00)
Gulfstream, Race 4: Maiden Special Weight at 1 1/16 miles on the turf for three year-olds
Our Wild Won (#6) needs to improve, but things didn’t go right for him last time when he was squeezed back at the start and forced to rally from the back of the pack into a pace that was pretty slow. He ran decently in his debut when setting the pace over a very demanding course and should show more speed again her. His pedigree says that more distance is going to help so perhaps he can gallop these into the ground on the front end.
$10 Win 6
Gulfstream, Race 6: OC $75,000/N1X at 1 1/16 miles on the turf for three year-old fillies
You really only need to watch Cool Faith’s (#9) trip in the Ginger Brew to see why I like her in this spot. (Watch the replay.) She was squeezed back early on as Joe Bravo took her too far off the pace. When she commenced her rally on the far turn, Bravo angled her in to try and save ground, but he ran into even more traffic troubles and cost his mount any chance she might have had. With a clean trip it’s conceivable that she could have contended for win honors.
$15 Win 9
Gulfstream, Race 10: The Suwannee River Stakes (G3) at 1 1/8 miles on the turf for fillies and mares
I really like Parranda (#2) in this spot and she should go off at a bettable price with some better-known names signed on. She has shown she has enough early speed to set the pace and has really stepped up her game over the past few months.
You all probably know that I’m a big fan of both Abaco and Caroline Thomas, but they are going to be so against the pace in this race. They both seem to do their best running when there is at least a little pace to run at and they’re just not going to get it here so I can’t endorse betting them at likely much shorter prices than Parranda.
$10 Win 2 (WINNER; Payout: $31.00)
Gulfstream, Race 11: The Gulfstream Park Sprint Stakes (G3) at seven furlongs
Brujo de Olleros (#6) was against an extremely strong rail bias in the Kelso and put forth an exceptional performance to nearly win. A repeat of that effort would make him virtually unbeatable here. I don’t have to remind you that there was an even stronger bias on Breeders’ Cup Friday and Brujo de Olleros performed admirably to pass as many horses as he did in the Dirt Mile. He possesses enough tactical speed to stay within a few lengths of the early pace and I just think he’s very likely to win this as simply the best horse.