Free Picks & Analysis — Who Do Ya Like?
Friday, November 17, 2017
The fall meet party at Aqueduct continues today! Nine races are on the schedule, with a first post time of 12:20 PM EST. 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 Aqueduct meet. Give him a follow on twitter if you can.
Good luck, and take it away, Jason!
I am against everyone in the opener, but somebody has to win so I’ll spread. Two Down One to Go (1) has really improved for Danny Gargan. That’s not unusual. However, at the end of the day he is two for twenty-three, and will face significant opposition on the front end. Gargan has spotted him perfectly thus far, but I am concerned about a rail draw with quicker horses to his outside. He’s never done anything to suggest he can rate and win.
Sallisaw (3) had a promising start to his career, but has gone backwards. He may be the quickest on paper though, and hasn’t faced this level on dirt yet. At least he presents value.
The one horse I can’t make a case for is Divine Dental (4). He’s had his chances at or near this level. Frankly he’s been pitiful of late, I recall the way he folded three back in a race washed off the turf when he quit without resistance. It’s hard to leave one horse out of an “all” race, but if so he’s the one.
The $700,000 purchase Blame Us All (5) is obviously a huge disappointment. He’s racing where he belongs though now tagged for the first time. He’s the only horse that could conceivably come off the pace to win. He gets significant class relief, and is possibly the horse to beat with a likely favorable pace scenario. I’m surprised at his generous morning line.
Sparty Boy (2) takes a massive drop in class, goes turf to dirt, and should get a favorable pace scenario. He must be used.
Tapit is out in full force in the race two maiden event. Let’s start with the two million dollar baby Marconi (4). He’s from a great family most notably as a half sibling to Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Much Macho Man. I have my concerns. John Velazquez usually gets the “A” horses for Pletcher and he opts for a barn mate that’s failed twice already. As good as TAP is with debut runners, he’s relatively poor with debut routers winning 9% of the time with a putrid .77 ROI. Win or lose he’s probably going to be an underlay here.
I don’t care much for his stable mate Biblical (1). He was supposed to improve in his second start stretching out, but really underwhelmed. Admittedly that was clearly a key race as Avery Island returned to win as well as the second place finisher High North. He will be coupled with a horse I prefer, and am a little disappointed they are running as an entry because it’s going to hurt the value of Potomac (1A) . One would expect the Bill Mott trainee to improve second time out, it’s just a shame he’ll be a huge underlay as part of an entry. However, it would be a lot more encouraging had a Irad Ortiz rode back. Kelly Breen races a George Hall owned pair.
Roaming Union (2) was beaten a head by the aforementioned Biblical. However, he had more experience, and if he’s going to take a step forward it would likely be a result of the addition of blinkers.
Incubator (2B) is the more likely of the pair. He’s been well supported in both starts. His second start was his first route try when he ran third at Parx. Don’t sell that race short. The winner was a Jason Servis trained son of Tapit making his first start. He can build off that effort, and should be a major player here as the likely best speed. He finished a half length behind the improving Tattered (7). He’s had some trouble in his last pair, and his tactical speed could come in handy here.
An X-factor could be Chantry Flats (6) for Nevin and the Jay Em Ess Stable. He showed very little in the lone start, but that may have just a tightener. It’s very encouraging to see the jock switch to Jose Ortiz, because he has fantastic numbers riding for this barn. The Nevin Ortiz combo has been especially deadly at Aqueduct over the last two years winning at a 41% rate with a $3.12 ROI. Michelle is good enough second time out and going sprint-to-route. I see some upside here at a square price.
St Augustine (5) ran into the freaky fast Montauk second out. I have mixed feelings. The horses that returned from that race didn’t impress next out.
The powerful West Point Thoroughbreds entry looks extremely formidable, and I see them as a pick 5 single. I can’t fathom they are the third choice in the program. Roman Approval (1A) has ran huge in his last pair when narrowly beaten by a Chad Brown trainee. In the last he was defeated by a horse that excels going longer distances, Call Provision, who returned to run a nice second in the Red Smith on Saturday. It was a very strong rendition of that event as well. It seems this horse is hitting his prime as a six year old. It should also help that he looks the lone speed in a race that is without a horse like Call Provision to deal with. He will certainly be closer to odds on coupled with a logical contender.
I’m a bit circumspect of Scholar Athlete (1) going this far. However, he did run a good third at the 1 3/16 distance two back against a solid group at Saratoga. Even so, he is a bit less classy than his entry mate. His last win came a few races back against lesser at Monmouth.
Gold Shield (4) is a bit of a plodder. He typically runs a race, but that race is usually an even effort for a small share. His lone win this year came at Tampa back in March, and he’s had six losses in a row since. He’s also finished behind Roman Approval in all three races they squared off this year.
St. Louie (3) wisely scratched out of a race against tougher when entered in the aforementioned Red Smith Handicap last Saturday. He’s in the best form of his life, but it’s probably not good enough to handle these. Of late he’s been able to stalk slow paces. I don’t see a similar scenario unfolding here. He will have at least two runners ahead of him throughout this race. Call Daddy (6) should be well placed. This will be the first time he’s been able to string two races together without a layoff line in ages. After five straight races against graded stakes horses he gets some class relief racing for a tag. I wouldn’t be concerned about the drop in for a tag, it really is not a suspicious drop. He seems overmatched at this point in graded stakes races, and he’s run out of conditions. The biggest concern is that he runs his best races on the lead, and barring a scratch of the top choice, he won’t find himself there.
You are going to want to have a couple runners here, but of the horses that will take money, I don’t want Outvoted (2) . A 30,000 son purchase out of the $150K stallion Curlin will never be my cup of tea. Although untested over a fast main track he’s been ignored in the wagering in two starts for TAP. This field is bad, so I can’t say he won’t win, but this is the type of horse you want to oppose in general. After all he was a two year old that debuted at 16-1 for Pletcher at the Spa. Clearly he has issues.
I’m also leery but a little more receptive to High Risk Strategy (6). He’s a $210,000 son of Union Rags that was unprotected first out in a 50K claimer for Chad Brown, yikes…He ran on for a belated second that day, but showed nothing stretching out at Parx against must better than these. This horse screams red flag, but he’s the lesser of two evils mentioned so far.
Hoard (5) is bound to improve as a first time gelding, dropping in class, adding Lasix, and racing with blinkers on. Trainer Robert Ribaudo is pulling out all stops, and although I generally don’t like to see so many changes at once, if even one of them sticks he can win here.
I’m most interested in Regalian (8) racing for a sharp claiming outfit. Chris Englehart is an upgrade over former trainer Chad Summers. He has speed, and I see him the most likely horse to improve at this point.
Notorious hangers highlight race 5. Appealing Briefs (6) is such a tired act, but in a small group with a favorable pace set up, I’m sure he fires. It just goes against everything I’ve ever learned as a handicapper to make him a top choice.
The fact he has no early zip leads me to believe Go Silently (7) is the better option. This small field came up really light on front end speed. This guy was my top choice last time, so I’m reluctant to land here again. Either of these big favorites can make amends in a soft spot, but I like price horses and want to give a shot to Slewacandy (1). I can make excuses for his two starts, and as I mentioned prior when Ortiz rides for Nevin it’s really noteworthy. This son of Sidney’s Candy cost a lot of money, and I believe he’s better than we have seen. He’s a bit of a speculation though, but the price will be right.
I think the horse that I want to include is Pocket Player (4). Yeah he’s been beaten by Appealing Briefs the two times they squared off, but he has a lot less experience, and I’ll completely ignore the last race sprinting when nobody challenged the winner at any point. This will be his second start for Tom Bush, whom I think a more suitable trainer with turf routers than Rick Violette.
This race is completely awful. I think Reedini (1) is a play against forever, but first off the claim for DJ against a field of this caliber….. Jacobson has a way of bringing them back to form. It should also help that he returns to conditional claimers.
Mr Euro (6) drops in class, and probably fits at this level. He too is simply uninspiring. I’ve been against him since his debut when TAP was willing to lose him for just 40K.
My only push in this race would be to use Ten Twenty Nine (3) underneath. Yeah I know the race off the layoff was bad, but so are all his competitors today. He probably needed the last and offers huge payout potential.
The only other horse I can endorse on top is The Great Samurai (8). I realize he always is happy with minor awards, but at least he’s shown some interest of late. Most of his rivals can’t same the same. This is also a noteworthy jockey and trainer combo that suggests they are live.
Conquest Exspresso (7) plods along for the most part, and he’d have to show a quicker turn of foot to factor here.
There should be enough early speed to enable a closer here. Lamontagne (2) has plenty of early foot. She is going to attempt stretching that speed to eight furlongs. I’m not opposed to the idea that she can since the barn is capable with this move. It’s also nice to see Jose Ortiz take the call. However, she’s exclusively sprinted for a long time, potentially faces early pressure, and isn’t going to offer much in the way of value. More sprint speed draws just to her outside.
Awesome Quick (4) takes the blinkers off, but should still be sent early. She’s sprinted for so long it is hard for me to envision her in the winners’ circle in a two-turn event.
Ready for Summer (5) typically sprints, but does have a win from as many tries at this distance. That came in wire to wire fashion though, and I don’t think she has the same early speed as the aforementioned two. Her ability to win from off the pace is dubious, however she has been able to rate some in sprint races so I won’t rule her out here. Steve Klesaris has good success when he uses Manny Franco who was aboard her three back in victory.
Sugar Mags (9) won at this distance and level two back. I’m just uncertain where that race came from. She’s been off the board in all seven other starts this year. On many occasions she has been a victim of the friendly New York turf races where the closers are compromised. That should not be a problem on Friday. At least she should be a nice price, and will get the services of Javier Castellano. The entry is conceivable.
Not so much Free N Clear (1), who races for a low percentage barn. You could argue for Weather Girl (1A) despite the fact she’s yet to hit the board in 2017. Almost all of those races came against better, and she will get a nice jock switch to Rosario. All things considered I think a minor share is best case scenario for either halves of the entry.
Khaleesi Cat (6) is the one I think you have to use. She’s run back to back big races at this level, despite not having a solid pace to run at. Linda Rice has kept this filly in form since the Mott claim. I don’t see a scenario she doesn’t show late foot.
You could argue horse to beat here is Some Kinda Crazy (1) racing second off the Rudy Rod claim. Toss her last routing on the main track. Conventional wisdom assumes Rudy can improve this filly formerly trained by Bruce Brown. She has tactical speed in a race light on early foot. Which is why I absolutely want to use Sandy Belle (6) as the best speed in a turf sprint. She’s been an entirely different animal in 2017, running big in every start barring the pace melt down two back going further than she wants to go. Yes, I think she’s better at five or five and a half, but she presents long odds as a horse that can take them a long way. Win or lose use her in exotics, I think she sticks around.
I’ll use her on top as well though along with Hannah’s Smile (9) a filly that has this group at her mercy. She was awesome her lone time going six furlongs. She’s likely to repeat.
I’m a bit against Nothingbutasmile (3). She defeated a hanging turd in her first out win, Paz the Wine. Then she tried the main track against a group that have returned to run lousy. I’m not totally against her, but I promise she will be an underlay.
Majestic Bloom (5) is not the type of horse I typically am behind. I just get the feeling she can outrun her odds.
Obviously nothing excites in the finale. The one thing you can likely count on is for Desert Affair (3) to finish underneath, after all she’s done that ten of twelve times this year finishing second or third at this level. Someone is going to beat her again.
I believe that Hay Field (1) is likely to do that having done so in her last two starts. She has been beaten a nose twice at this level and may be ready to graduate. On top I’ll side with an outsider though dropping in class. Unspoken Mission (10) moves to the main track while dropping for good connections. She’s actually better bred for conventional dirt, and has not proven herself a loser like most of these. David Canizzo has had no success with debuting maiden claimers, but whenever he uses Rosario I always take notice, and Wild Frost (9) would not have to be much to factor.
Party Shot (4) should be on all your tickets. She moves to a barn that excels with newcomers, and she’s ran well enough in three starts to take her seriously.
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