Aqueduct, Race 1: Claiming $25,000N3L at 5 1/2 furlongs
While I realize that Make a Fortune (#4) could be an underlay going out for a trainer who is routinely overbet, I can’t ignore the fact that he had two major excuses for his last race. He was coming off a long layoff for trainer David Jacobson, which is not a good move for that barn. He had a right to be a little short, but the trip he got eliminated any chance he might have had. January 12th was a day when you did not want to race down towards the inside and Make a Fortune hugged the rail for the entire trip. I’ll bet him to win and use him over the other two logical contender, Conticinio (#2) and Velvet Cap (#8) in the exacta.
$15 Win 4
$4 Exacta 4 with 2/8
Aqueduct, Race 3: Allowance N1X at six furlongs
When handicapping this race, one of the decisions you have to make right off the bat is whether or not you’re willing to believe Green Gratto’s (#1) last race. If he runs that race back here, he is probably going to win again. While I suppose you’re supposed to be against a horse who will be a fraction of the 23-1 odds he went off at in his previous start, he’s made a believer out of me.
While there are other speedy types on paper in this race, I don’t think horses like Mulheb and Much Stronger possess the gate speed of Green Gratto. Samuel Camacho, Jr. knows what this horse’s best asset is and he’s sure to use it to his advantage from his inside draw. This full brother to 7-for-12 Flying Zealous was always bred to be a good horse and it feels like he’s finally realizing his full potential for the new barn. I think there’s an excellent chance he comes right back to wire the field. I’ll bet him to win and use him with Make Your Move (#6) in the exacta.
$15 Win 1 (WINNER; Payout: $48.75)
$4 Exacta Box 1/6
Aqueduct, Race 5: OC $75,000/1X at one mile and 70 yards for NY-bred three year-old fillies
I’m against the likely heavy favorite Saturday Bliss, who rode the gold rail to a dressed-up runaway win last time. I’ve gone with two alternatives who should offer much better value.
There appears to be quite a bit of pace in this race so Mlle. Minuit (#4) should be able to make the most of her late running style. She’s not the fastest horse on paper, but I think she’ll work out the right trip and, unlike many of the others, you already know she’ll handle the distance.
I’ll also use George Weaver’s other entrant, Saratoga Shoes (#7). Her maiden win came back much slower than her stablemate’s, but based on the way horses have come back to run out of that race, you can make a pretty convincing argument that the race was better than the Beyer it was assigned would suggest. She also has decent route pedigree being a half-sister to multiple route winner Bwana Babe.
$10 Win 4
$10 Win 7
Aqueduct, Race 6: Maiden Special Weight at six furlongs for NY-bred fillies and mares
This is a real puzzle of a maiden race in which I don’t have a very strong opinion, but I think my pick might offer the best value of the main contenders. Echluath (#3) was steadied entering the far turn last time and did spent a portion of the race near the rail on a day when you wanted to be racing to the outside. I thought she finished up well and had a right to run better here.
$10 Win 3
Aqueduct, Race 8: OC $30,000/N2X at six furlongs for NY-bred fillies and mares
I’m not sure that she’ll be able to get up going this distance, but I can’t resist closing turnback Downtown Hottie (#8) in a race so packed with early speed. Rudy Rodriguez has fantastic numbers with horses turning back in distance on the inner track (15-for-49, 31%, $3.15 ROI). I know it’s hard to rely on swift paces to develop on this circuit but with the likes of She’s Stones Sis, Irish Whisper, Saichi Sweepin, and Pegasus Diamond entered you have to think there will be some hitting up front. I’ll bet her to win and use her underneath some of the other contenders in the exacta since she’s likely to be a decent price.
$10 Win 8
$2 Exacta 1/2/4 with 8 (Payout: $258.00)