Wednesday, September 24
Race 1: Claiming $25,000 at six furlongs on the turf for fillies and mares
7 – Ave’s Halo
6 – Purling
I know that I’m not saying anything particularly clever in pointing out that Ave’s Halo (#7) is the horse to beat. Her turf races are superior to the turf form of every other runner in this race and she simply outclasses her rivals. I’m actually a little upset that she’s in this race because there’s a runner that I’d be interested in betting to win if not for the presence of this heavy favorite. I’ll still make a very minor win wager on my long shot, but I’ll mostly concentrate on using her underneath Ave’s Halo.
PURLING (#6) is not a terribly effective dirt horse, but I think there’s reason to give her a look as she switches back to the turf. Her lone turf start came going long, and it actually wasn’t a bad effort considering that her distance threshold is about six and a half furlongs. Though she finished sixth, she did make a bit of a middle move before fading. However, her pedigree is what really interests me. Her sire, Prime Meridian, earned all four of his victories on the turf, and Purling’s dam, though a winner of only one turf race, clearly preferred that surface. While I’m no expert when it comes to analyzing horses’ strides, I’ve always thought that Purling had the action of a horse that should get over the turf, so perhaps she can run to her pedigree now that she finally gets a chance in a turf sprint.
$10 Exacta 7-6
$5 Win 6
Race 3: Maiden Special Weight at 6 1/2 furlongs for NY-bred fillies and mares
6 – Moonlight Fantasy
When I first saw the entries for this race, I assumed that I’d probably be skipping it after noticing that Sweet Sweet Afleet (#1) was entered. She had such obvious trouble in her debut and clearly should have won that day. However, upon further inspection, I’m a little skeptical of her as a short-priced favorite, and have ultimately decided to take a shot against her. While I liked the winner of that race, it was only because she was facing such a pitiful field. Brad’s Ruby is not very good, and I’d hardly have been impressed if Sweet Sweet Afleet had even beaten her by a couple of lengths. It’s also worth noting that it had become very difficult for horses to close on Saratoga’s main track on that final weekend, so Sweet Sweet Afleet’s early speed proved to be a major asset. She can certainly win, but I prefer another horse.
MOONLIGHT FANTASY (#6) faced a much better field than Sweet Sweet Afleet in her debut earlier in the Saratoga meet. She took very little money that day and ran like a horse that clearly needed a race. After breaking slowly, she was rank on the backstretch and appeared to resent the kickback. Mike Luzzi eventually got her into a more comfortable spot along the rail, but her race was over early on. While she didn’t finish particularly well, she also didn’t totally fall apart as the running line might suggest, since the she only finished six lengths out of third place.
Moonlight Fantasy has really picked it up in her morning workouts lately, and I think we’ll see a vastly improved effort out of her. She’s certainly bred to be quick since her dam was a pretty fast stakes winner at six furlongs. I don’t expect her to be a huge price, but I think she has an excellent chance to win. I’ll use Sweet Sweet Afleet underneath, but also want to try to get Shades of Indygo (#4) into the trifecta at a bit of a price. I know that she’s a plodder, but she is a half-sister to a couple of sprinters so this turnback could work if there’s some pace up front.
$15 Win 6
$5 Trifecta 6 with 1,4 with 1,4
Race 8: Allowance N1X at six furlongs on the turf for fillies and mares
10 – Gratitude
Zindaya (#7) is the one they have to catch after her breakthrough score sprinting at Saratoga last time. She did get to set a fairly moderate pace, but I don’t think there was anything phony about that win considering how dominant she was in victory. While she does step up in class, her early speed gives her a pretty significant edge once again. Unless Tasmona is particularly keen with the blinkers on, there is just no speed to go with her early.
I’ll use Zindaya strongly, but I do want to take small shot with GRATITUDE (#10), who I think will appreciate getting back to Belmont Park. She showed an impressive turn of foot in her maiden win, and then was compromised by a wide trip in her first start versus winners at Saratoga. Five and a half furlongs might be too short for her anyway, and she never really had a chance to make up ground in a race that was dominated on the front end. She’s fast enough to stay relatively close to Zindaya early, so I’m hoping that she can run her down late at a much more generous price. They’re the two that I want.
$10 Win 10
$10 Exacta Box 7,10
Race 9: Maiden Claiming $40,000 at one mile on the turf for NY-breds
9 – Eastcoast Lights
6 – Fictionalcharacter
During my first pass through this race, I skipped right over the horse that I’ve ended up picking on top. There’s nothing flashy about EASTCOAST LIGHTS (#9), but that’s probably for the best since he’s almost assured to be a pretty big price. The fact of the matter is that if he merely repeats his last race, he has an excellent chance to win this. Then factor in the very significant–though not glaringly obvious–rider upgrade to Chris Decarlo and this horse starts to look very appealing.
Just go back and watch his last race if you don’t believe me. That was a very slowly-paced affair that was dominated on the front end by Mark Twain and Slew’s Brew, runners that are far superior to the competition that the rest of this field has been facing lately. Eastcoast Lights was being ridden by a jockey who has only gotten two mounts this entire year, and it showed. This horse was guided far outside on the backstretch, and continued to race four to five-wide around the far turn, which is the kiss of death on Aqueduct’s turf course. However, Eastcoast Lights didn’t quit and actually was closing in the stretch, just losing a photo for fourth. Despite having a much worse trip, he still finished ahead of Copper Core, who nearly graduated at this level in each of his next two starts.
Eastcoast Lights comes into this race off a layoff, but the recent workouts are encouraging, and the aforementioned turf race has me convinced that he can run. Quite frankly, I’d be willing to bet this horse at around 6-1, and I have to think that I’ll be getting a much better price than that.
Now that I’ve explained that one, I should mention that this is still a competitive race, and I do want to discuss one other runner. FICTIONALCHARACTER (#6) has been slow to come around, but his second turf race is a much better effort than it appears, and gets a much more capable rider on his back today. While I wish that he hadn’t run those dirt races at Saratoga because he’s now exposed as a horse who can run a little, I do expect him to move forward with this switch back to turf. Limehouse is a decent turf sire, and his dam has proven to be a strong turf influence. I’ll use him with my top pick and will throw them both into exotic wagers with the logical Hushhushmushmush (#11) and Lotza Heat (#13).
$15 Win 9
$10 Win 6
$2 Exacta 6,9 with 6,9,11,13
$2 Exacta 11,13 with 6,9