Saturday, December 6
Race 1: Maiden Special Weight at 1 1/16 miles for two year-old fillies
6 – Bonnet Plume
Midnight Citra is the horse to beat based on prior form, but I’m just not totally convinced that she really wants to go two turns. However, one horse that I know will relish the extra distance is BONNET PLUME (#6). While Bonnet Plume has now paired up 55 Beyer speed figures through her first two starts, I feel that she took a subtle step forward in her most recent outing. That was race that was totally dominated on the front end and Bonnet Plume was the only filly to make any kind of move into the race. I thought she was finishing up with interest that day and her pedigree suggests that this extra sixteenth of a mile should work to her advantage, since two of her dam’s three wins came going a mile and an eighth on the dirt. Now she adds Lasix and I’ll take her to run down the favorite.
$15 Win 6 (Payout: $74.25)
Race 2: Maiden Special Weight at six furlongs for NY-bred two year-old fillies
2 – Go Babe
Kathy’s Humor is the horse to beat based on her debut outing on November 8th, but there are some other horses exiting that race that are also worth discussing. Partytime Chill has every right to improve today after running into tight quarters coming to the top of the stretch before having to angle out last time. Fenwick Hall showed good speed pressing from the outside, though she was no match for the winner’s finishing kick.
All three of those fillies ran well, but I’m going in a different direction. GO BABE (#2) is exiting what is by far the toughest maiden field that any of these fillies have encountered. She broke on top and showed good speed that day, but was not match for the acceleration of Quezon on the far turn. Go Babe faded to third, but I actually thought she finished up decently, and was actually putting distance between herself and the rest of the field from the quarter pole home. Getting defeated by subsequent stakes winners Quezon and The Lewis Dinner is certainly no disgrace. She adds blinkers, has already proven that she handles a wet track, and could prove to be the speed of the speed. At what should be a fair price, she’s the one I want most.
$15 Win 2
Race 7: Allowance N1X at one mile and 70 yards for NY-breds
2 – Salisbury Knight
I see SALISBURY KNIGHT (#2) as a very likely winner here. This colt showed some early promise, but after a few disappointments, is now just starting to deliver on that potential. It’s also noteworthy that his breakthrough win came in the slop at Belmont and he appears to be a horse that loves surfaces with some moisture in them.
Two back, he ran off early when the blinkers were put back on, setting fast fractions going a mile and sixteenth at Belmont. Salisbury Knight also drifted off the rail on a day when you generally wanted to be down inside. I think that race looks worse than it is, and he followed that up with a much-improved effort when turned back to seven furlongs. This distance shouldn’t be a problem, and Jimmy Jerkens sports fantastic numbers with horses making this move. Over the past 5 years, he is 9-for-21 (43%) with non-maidens going from sprints to routes on the dirt, for an ROI of $4.93.
The two other main players with dirt form are Huge Asset (#1A) and Spider Roll (#10), and I’ll use them to round out the exacta with my top selection.
$20 Win 2 (Payout: $65.00)
$6 Trifecta 2 with 10 with 4,5,7
$4 Trifecta 2 with 4,5,7 with 10
Race 9: Maiden Claiming $25,000 at six furlongs for NY-bred two year-olds
7 – Fit to Keep
This isn’t the sort of race that I usually like to get that involved in, since there’s a lot of guesswork to be done. However, there is one horse that I’m fairly confident can do better than his printed past performances might suggest.
FIT TO KEEP (#7) has been up against it from a pace standpoint in each of his two starts. First time out, he showed no speed and tried to rally into very slow fractions going six and a half furlongs. Then last time, he found himself on the lead as the inside speed going a mile. November 7th was a day that featured one of the most pronounced dead rails of the Aqueduct fall meeting, and Fit to Keep raced in the one- to two-path for almost the entire race. Turning back to six furlongs should suit him and I think he’s the most likely winner.
I don’t want any horses coming out of that maiden claimer on November 15th, especially those like Can’tcatchjack and Jacapo, who earned career-best figures in that race. I’ve been very suspicious of the Beyer speed figure assigned to that race, and I think it’s now proving to be an inflated number.
$15 Win 7
Today’s Aqueduct Wagers: $95.00
Today’s Aqueduct Payouts: $139.25
I certainly won’t be handicapping every card at Gulfstream, since I remain mainly focused on NYRA through the winter. However, I will keep tabs on the racing in South Florida and may jump in where I see fit. Today I see a couple of opportunities early on the card.
Saturday, December 6
Race 1: Allowance N1X at 1 1/16 miles for fillies and mares
1 – Commez Chez Soi
Cash For Ever (#12) is obviously the horse to beat based on her U.S. form. She made an eye-catching late run in her stateside debut before running a very respectable fifth in a very competitive Pebbles in October. The wide post is a minor concern, but she figures to drop over early and mount one late run.
That said, I see a long shot that might be worth using at a price. COMME CHEZ SOI (#1) made her turf debut at Delaware last time, and ran much better than it appears on paper. The horse that won that race, Bikini Beauty, would certainly be among the choices if she were entered in this race, and I feel that Comme Chez Soi could have given that one a scare had she gotten a clean trip last time. That race featured a fast pace that totally fell apart in the late stages. Comme Chez Soi settled in mid-pace early before moving up to race in behind the leaders on the far turn. She obviously had plenty of run, but she got caught in behind the tiring frontrunners for a good furlong while her rider was forced to tap on the breaks a couple of times. He finally found running room along the inside, but Comme Chez Soi had already lost significant momentum, and being sent through a tight spot on the rail, is not an ideal situation for most horses. Bikini Beauty had all the momentum and ran past, but Comme Chez Soi actually finished up well, reclaiming second before galloping out strongly. I think that the turf may have been her true calling all along and that she can improve on that initial grass effort today.
$10 Win 1
$5 Exacta Box 1,12
Race 2: Maiden Special Weight at 1 1/16 miles on the turf for two year-olds
13 – Flight to Quality
Red Guard (#9) is the most likely winner based on his recent turf form, but he’s probably going to be a short price, and as a deep closer, will have to work out a trip. I’ll certainly use him, but I’m more interested in one of the first time turfers.
FLIGHT TO QUALITY (#13) has a turf pedigree that I just cannot ignore. His sire, Speightstown, is a decent grass influence, winning with 14% of his turf starters, but the real pedigree power comes from his dam. Forever After, by Sadler’s Wells, is a half-sister to Meteor Storm, winner of the Grade 1 Manhattan, who earned over $1 million on grass, as well as Polish Summer, winner of the Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic, while also earning over $2 million on turf.
Flight to Quality was very green early in his debut, as he appeared to resent the kickback and generally looked uncomfortable over the surface. However, if you watch the replay, check out what this horse does after the wire. John Velazquez gave him a couple smacks of the whip before the line, and he absolutely takes off on the gallop out, making up almost 20 lengths to nearly run up to the leaders by the time they hit the clubhouse turn.
I think that this colt has ability and turf is supposed to be his true calling. I expect to see a completely different animal today.
$15 Win 13
$5 Exacta Box 9,13