Aqueduct, Race 1: Claiming $35,000N2L at six furlongs for fillies and mares
If My Donna Jean (#7) runs as well as she did in each of her last two starts, she’s simply going to win this race. Two races back she was slammed at the start and made up a ton of ground on the backstretch before taking the lead past midstretch. She was much the best that day and was subsequently asked to go a mile next time, which is farther than her best distance. This huge rider switch to Irad Ortiz, Jr. can only help. My one concern with her is that she is just 1-for-25 lifetime and on a number of occasions has shown a propensity to hang late. However, if she’s a few lengths in front coming to the wire that might not matter today.
$15 Win 7 (WINNER; Payout: $42.00)
Aqueduct, Race 2: Claiming $16,000 at 5 1/2 furlongs for fillies and mares
I can’t take Rain Forest as a heavy favorite here after she rode the gold rail to victory last time. Her other dirt races aren’t nearly good enough to win and I need to see it again on a fair racetrack. Another Page (#2) is my pick as the logical alternative since she possesses the early speed to beat Rain Forest to the front and is facing a much softer field than last time. Her race two back would absolutely bury Rain Forest.
$10 Win 2
Aqueduct, Race 5: Claiming $16,000N3L at 5 1/2 furlongs for fillies and mares
There is a lot of speed in this race as Gambling Geraldine, Midnightinpositano, Quiet Sunshine, and Your Move all prefer to be forwardly placed early. Due to the likely heat up front, I’ve gone looking for a horse who can take advantage and I’ve landed on turnback House On Toilsome (#1). You can make an argument that House On Toilsome is better sprinting anyway so I can forgive her two recent subpar efforts going two turns. I know she’s been a bit camera shy during her career, but if she can get back to some of the races she was putting together last fall, she’s going to be very tough to hold off.
I’ll bet her to win and will also use her with Daisysgonnamakeit (#5), who is taking a slight drop in class after a brief freshening for Steve Asmussen. She’ll be a threat from a stalking position.
$10 Win 1
$4 Exacta Box 1/5
Aqueduct, Race 6: Allowance N1X at 1 1/16 miles for NY-breds
I know I picked The Brothers Rap (#4) in each of his last two starts, but I acknowledge that he was probably up against it when facing fast sprinters like The Big Deluxe and Marriedtothemusic. I originally added him to my ‘Horses to Watch’ list early last year with the intention of betting him back in a route race. On January 17, 2013 (Replay) The Brothers Rap was stretching out in distance for the first time after a strong closing finish behind promising NY-breds Go Get the Basil and Escapefromreality. His performance was a lot stronger than the 48 Beyer would suggest. He was rated well off a very slow pace, which his apprentice rider, Guillermo Rodriguez, sensed. Rodriguez started to ask him to move up along the rail down the backstretch, but moved into a tight spot entering the far turn and he was forced to steady back to last place. He then attempted to re-rally, but the horses up front were sprinting home and he could not make up much ground.
His two sprint races since the layoff should serve as preps for today and I expect a major step forward here. If he can jump up and run a Beyer in the 70s, which I think is a strong possibility, he’ll be tough to beat.
$20 Win 4 (WINNER; Payout: $108.00)
Aqueduct, Race 8: Allowance N1X at six furlongs
I’m Stoked figures to be a heavy favorite here as he enters this race off a couple of 90+ Beyers in two of his last three starts. However, this race is very different from the five horse field he dominated last time. That day, his main competition for the lead did not break well and only could offer mild pressure though moderate fractions. In this race, horses like Gombey Dancer, Seeker, and Bear’s Spirit figure to apply more pressure early.
I’m going to bet back Gombey Dancer (#4), who gets blinkers today after an odd race last time. He appeared to be in perfect striking position heading into the far turn that day before appearing to balk at having horses surround him coming to the top of the stretch. After briefly appearing as if he’d get nothing, Gombey Dancer re-rallied once clear in the stretch and almost was able to get back up for the victory. I’m hoping that the addition of blinkers gives this George Weaver trainee some added competitive spirit. An aggressive rider like Eddie Castro should only help matters as well. I think he’s just as good as I’m Stoked in terms of raw ability and he’ll certainly be a larger price.