Free Picks & Analysis — Who Do Ya Like?
Friday, February 2, 2018
Aqueduct’s got an 8-race card today, with a first post time of 12:50 PM EST, and we’ve got Jason Perry (@jmanmetsfan1) providing free picks & analysis of the entire program. Jason’s been writing about New York racing for a while now, and we’re happy to have him back for the winter. Give him a follow on twitter when you can.
Good luck, and take it away, Jason!
Stay Fond (2) is going to be the logical favorite taking a huge drop in class for TAP. It’s not a red flag either, she’s been awful, and was most recently dusted at Parx. Pletcher wins with this type, and this is a pretty bad group though. I would not rush to the windows to get $.80 on the dollar, but I won’t deny she’s easily the horse to beat.
Desert Affair (1A) finally got a win in her 20th career start. However, she does try, finishing second five times and third on eight occasions. She showed some versatility in her first victory after a rough start. I don’t know if eight furlongs is too far, but at least it is around one turn.
Her barn-mate Thirtydaysinjune (1) has been bad for quite some time running at this level, and seemingly has little hope.
Lady Rullah (5) disappointed last out when fading at 8-5 without much excuse. This time she will offer considerable better value. She has a pace advantage, and if the rail is good it wouldn’t be a surprise if she ran better as the lone speed on paper.
Three Eighty Eight (6) raced last Friday finishing second for the third straight time. Linda Rice doesn’t frequently race horses off a week’s rest, but she’s won two of the last three times she did. I don’t know why she would improve at this point, and clearly she has a lot of hang in her.
Woundwithhereyes (3) exits the same race, and likewise has had plenty of opportunities already for a strong barn. I wouldn’t really want either of these horses at a short price, but someone has to win.
It’s hard to believe someone is going to win the race two maiden claimer. I’m not sure what happened to Burkey’s Babe (3) when dropping to this level last out. She got involved in a duel which probably caused her to run as badly as she did, but I suspect she will be challenged again on Friday.
Gypsy Jo (1) figures to fire out as well, especially with an inside draw. She too underwhelmed dropping to this level and fading at a short price. She has stamina issues, but should find this group a little more to her liking. I think she retreats again anyhow, and have no interest at 5-2.
I’d also expect Spiral Bound (4) to be forwardly placed with the addition of blinkers. She goes first off the claim for owner and trainer Jeremiah Englehart. That’s usually a good thing, but it’s hard to improve off Linda Rice. This filly was also only given one shot against straight maidens, and that’s concerning since she was a homebred with nice pedigree. Her grand dam was a GII winner and she has a couple of nice sibs.
I want to take a little shot with Celtic Serenade (5) going route-to-sprint and turf-to-dirt. Her running lines suggest she might like being a one-run closer, and indeed her TimeForm pace numbers have her with the best late kick. If a speed duel does materialize she could run on with late interest.
Fashiononthesurge (6) is getting a late start to her career at the age of five. She’s appropriately spotted, and Chris Englehart is capable with debuting maiden claimers. The rest don’t seem worthy of mention.
Tiffany’s Vision (8) is probably not winning, but could outrun her odds. I feel like much of the speed will back up.
After a slow start to his career Morning Buzz (3) has had a really nice 2016 and 2017 campaign. Accordingly he has been popular at the claim box, and this will be his eighth start for a different barn in the past year. He’s really in the best form of his life, so the question will be if David Duggan, a trainer who claims infrequently, can keep him sharp. It’s encouraging he’s confident, running this gelding for 32,000 long after his “jail period” has passed. Since it’s been more than thirty days he’s not required to race for a higher price than he was claimed at. If you need further elaboration on the jail move see the pinned tweet of @albundypolkhigh.
He should stalk the lead of Tiznoble (4) who was curiously spotted for 16K and routed a group he towered over. It was an odd spot by Ed Barker since he claimed him two back from Jacobson for twice that, in what was a good second place effort. His first start for Barker was a solid second place finish in a 40K claimer. So why was he given away? He was claimed in what was probably a multi barn shake and lands in the low percentage Barrera barn. He’s hard to trust for a lousy trainer, and this Tiznow horse won’t provide value as your ML favorite.
Combat Controller (2) is also a jail move angle. He races first off the claim for Rudy Rodriguez. That’s a couple of positive things, but there are concerns as well. It’s nice he moves to the high percentage Rudy barn, but he’s already historically raced for strong trainers. I’m also not excited about his level of competition in his past performances. This is his first start against open company claimers, and his three wins came in a maiden claimer, and against low level n2l and n3l competition.
Battle Midway (1) has consistently faced better. After numerous “also rans” against N1X rivals, the connections have finally dropped this gelding into a logical spot.
Praetereo (5) moves from Rudy Rod to Norman Follety off a losing effort against 12.5K company. He’d be astonishing to say the least.
I want to be against Cocktail Countess (3) dropping from straight maidens to maiden claimers for Linda Rice. This daughter of The Factor cost $200,000 at auction. That’s probably because her mom was a half sister to Ria Antonia, an earner of 1.5 million. But, don’t forget that mare was an obscurely bred daughter of Rockport Harbor that was placed first in the Juvenile Fillies via DQ. Bottom line, she’s not exactly from a “blue-blooded” family, and her purchase price was more a product of her over achiever sibling. She took little money in her turf debut at the Spa against just six rivals. Even more concerning was the lack of support second out, and angle Rice excels with. She quit that day beating just one horse. She has some speed, but others do in here as well. Chad Brown does everything well, except for debuting maiden claimers.
In a pick five I’m probably not letting Chad beat me with Manny up, but Polarization (6) is clearly flawed debuting for a third of her purchase price. A horse like this will never be my top pick.
I’m thinking the off track and first Lasix moved up Gia Michael (2). The winner that day Lillard Hall simply isn’t any good.
That said, I prefer her over Solitary Gem (4) who exits the same race as a 3-5 failure. That filly has had more chances, and seems to be in a digression pattern. In the end I’ve landed on a pair with upside.
Majestic Kiss (7) folded at long odds against drastically better in her lone start. Gary Gullo is a good conditioner, and drops her to a more competitive level. Often horses show big improvement second out.
Karen’s Gem (5) races first off the claim likely benefiting from a big time barn and jock change. Jeremiah is having a real nice meet spotting horses where they belong. I think that’s the case here as he turns this filly back in distance against appropriate competition. It’s certainly a plus Navarro is up.
Wow a couple more runners entered off a week rest. Nominal Dollars (1) prefers two turns and enjoys an off track. He won’t get that on Friday. Win or lose, I want someone else at 5-2 or better that’s not 0-6 going a mile and 1-14 in the last year. His past performances are noticeably skewed towards underneath finishes.
Marriage Fever (2) also races off short rest. He’s better off going one turn, but a 6% barn at a short price doesn’t seem right. At the age of nine, this gelding has seen better days, and I think his best racing left is going shorter. He’s got heart at least as an eleven time winner that’s hit the board in more than half his races.
Iron Power (8) wins this race if he’s just a skeleton of his old self. His dirt record really isn’t bad, nor is his performances at a mile. He’s going to be favored however, and his left effort for Pletcher was visually bad. He’s a poor favorite, but can’t be left out of horizontals.
He may not be good enough, but I want to use Open Bar (3). This barn has had some success from a large sample. I thought he showed some late interest last out to a “Jekkyl and Hyde” winner that ran a monster race for a 10K claimer. This guy is one of the few in here that their best racing may not be behind them.
Some sharp claims highlight the starter allowance race 6. Most notably is the well bred Borsa Vento (3) who flourished when finally racing for an astute barn. He won for fun first off the claim for Rudy Rodriguez when stretched out to this same one turn mile distance. Now he moves to Linda Rice who boasts an awesome 31% win rate with first time claims. I like the way he just took over and ran off in that last start. All of this said, that had to be a bad group considering he was nearly even money coming in off dubious performances. This is also a pretty lateral barn change from Rudy to Rice.
California Swing (6) also comes in off a win versus 25K n2l rivals, but my goodness he looked good doing it. Check out that replay, this gelding looked razor sharp, and now moves to a better Mike Maker barn. He has demonstrated an ability to rate in the past, and I think his versatility could play a large role here. There is no doubt I want him as a top pick.
Caribbean (7) could work out a trip in a race that may set up for an off the pace runner. Brad Cox is one of only a few trainers I would trust claiming from Todd Pletcher. However, he has another obstacle to overcome since this will be his first race on a fast main track. All three of this geldings wins have come racing in conditional claimers while racing for a top trainer. 3-1 seems like a short price to swallow.
Shadow Rider (2) seems to be in a declining form cycle. That probably explains the breather he just got from trainer John Toscano. It is nice to see he has run well fresh in the past. His lifetime mark is characterized by minor awards, and this is a pretty solid looking group of starter allowance opponents.
Mr. Dougie Fresh (5) returns to the main track, but he’d been more effective since the switch to turf.
Things should get interesting on the front end in the race 7 optional claimer. Classy Class (2) has always preferred to be on the lead, and has never shown he can win from off the pace, or even stalking the pace for that matter. He does bring a class edge to the table, but it’s going to take a versatility we have yet to see to win. Admittedly, he needed the last, and this barn posts big numbers second off layoffs of this nature. He might have to show he can stalk to be effective here.
I say that because Fox Rules (6) concedes the lead to nobody. He’s been a fun horse through the years, but now at age nine one would expect digression. I still think he can muster up enough to make life difficult for the other front runners.
He should also compromise the odds on favorite Pioneer Spirit (4) who looks like a need the lead type in a race he might not get it. Brad Cox has done a good job since the claim from Rice, but don’t inflate the off track win last out over a mediocre group. This horse loves the wet ground. I definitely want to beat him on Friday.
This race looks like a perfect set up for Harlan Punch (1). Forget the last going two turns and nine furlongs. This gelding is far better going one turn, and he likes this one mile distance.
He’s the lone entrant I trust from coming off the pace other than Securitiz (5) who probably doesn’t have the turn of foot to win at this distance, but could round out exotics at a price.
I’ve got nothing for you in the finale. In the late pick four I want ALL. Lake Party (8) has had little chances in his eight starts over a fast main track. He’s unattractive at 3-1, but is probably the most likely winner. I’ll make barn mate Can’tweallgetalong (4) the choice though. He faced better until his last start when he had a poor beginning from a wide post, and actually showed early interest.
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