Free Picks & Analysis — Who Do Ya Like?
Saturday, February 3, 2018
Aqueduct’s road to the Derby continues this Saturday, with the Withers Stakes. It drew a field of six, including Jerome Stakes winner Firenze Fire and Remsen Stakes runner-up Avery Island. That will go as the eighth of nine races on the card. The first post time will be 12:50 PM EST.
We’ve got Mike Mahon (@MikeMahonPA) with picks & analysis of the program. Mike’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, Mike!
Race 1, 1 Mile, Claiming $20,000
2 w 3
2 Arbitrator has been running well, and looks to win for his third owner in as many races. His only legit contender draws the neighboring post – 3 American Road steps up in class after a claim, which was came off a layoff and big drop in class. There’s too many question marks to pick him as a winner, but I’ll still put him underneath.
Race 2, 6 Furlongs, Maiden Claiming $50,000
2 w 4
I’m going with 2 Surprise Wonder in this one, and I will not be surprised or wonder why he wins. He was mildly competitive last spring before going under the knife (G) and taking off the past eight months. His odds are quite short, and my exacta looks chalky – I’ll put 4 Leading Storm underneath, mainly because his dam has produced four winners from five starters.
Race 3, 6 Furlongs, Allowance $67,000
1 w 4
I’m gonna take a break off the chalk and chase from value here – 1 Decorator Jenn comes out firing first off a claim and takes an aggressive jump in class. She’s a speed horse on the rail, and they’ll break not too far from the turn. Assuming she gets a good start, she should be able to get out front and stay there. I’ll put 4 China Rider underneath because she hasn’t run too well since breaking her maiden but she’s able land in the money. I don’t like 5 Short Kakes’ odds and I’m hoping she’ll be outclassed here.
Race 4, 6 Furlongs, Claiming $40,000
1 to win
I’m partial to play 1 Lucky Town because I’m assuming he was named after Bruce Springsteen’s tenth studio album released on March 31, 1992, the same day as the Human Touch album. I’ll take a pass on Lucky Town because that may have been The Boss’ worst album, as the debate is a dead heat between Lucky Town and Human Touch. If I were to find a horse named Nebraska, I’d bet the ranch. Although, it wouldn’t be so clearly named after a Bruce album. Perhaps the owner just really likes corn, or really dislikes ethanol. I digress…
8 Shoe Loves Shoe should be able to handle this field if he gets out front or close to press heading into the turn. If not, look for 5 Northern to set the pace and potentially get loose.
Race 5, 6 Furlongs, Maiden $55,000
1 w 4
Nobody’s really jumping off the page at me in this one. I’ll go with 1 and 1A, mainly due to mathematical probabilities. 1 Under Suspicion could break her maiden today if she’s able to run a complete race. She’s run well enough to compete twice, but seems to fall victim to her own pace. I like 4 Bourbon High’s works, and think she may be able to sneak into place at 20/1 and pay a healthy exacta.
Race 6, 1 Mile, Claiming $16,000
5 w 7
5 Micozzi looked flew like a superstar last out – he came in off a claim and stretched to a mile. He busted out front and continued to distance himself until finishing seven lengths ahead of the second best. He’s actually run against several strong contenders throughout the maiden ranks, and his record is somewhat deceiving. I’m typically reluctant to play such short odds off a maiden win, but the Rice/Alvarado combo is hot recently and I’ll ride the wave. In the gambling spirit, I’ll put 7 Heat Check underneath in the hopes that his first place finish returning to the dirt wasn’t a fluke.
Race 7, 6 1/2 Furlongs, Optional Claiming $40,000
5 w 7
I’m going with 5 Mighty Zealous here, hoping he’s not overly zealous and is able to sit off the pace and strike down the stretch. There’s a good number of speed horses in this one, and I’m hoping for a bit of a meltdown. Look for 7 We Did to also sneak in under this scenario.
Race 8, 1 1/8 Mile, Withers Stakes (Grade 3)
4 w 1 w 3
Today’s featured field is not an easy one, and 4 Avery Island is definitely the one to beat. He’s handled adversity a little better than 3 Bal Harbour, and shouldn’t face too much of a challenge down the backstretch. If 6 California Night is able to press him early, the two may exhaust each other. Although I think Cali Night will fizzle out early. 3 Bal Harbour is a strong play anywhere near the 6/1 morning line. He hasn’t had too much success at this level, but was on the up-and-up prior to his last out in which nothing seemed to go his way. 1 Firenze Fire will definitely be coming on at the end; where he ends up will depend on the early pace.
Race 9, 6 Furlongs, Maiden Claiming $25,000
I like 5 Time Expired and 6 Musicality for no reason other than they’re not chronic losers.
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