Interrogation Returns, Can Take Thanksgiving Opener

Amid the Saturday racing, our interest was certainly piqued by an email that came in mid-day. Interrogation was running on Thursday in the Thanksgiving Day opener at Aqueduct.

Aqueduct Race 1 – Interrogation, a Christophe Clement runner, has been on our Watch List since her January 7th debut but hasn’t been seen since. Here’s that debut race (Interrogation is #5 in the green silks with the red cap):

As you can see, Interrogation had a somewhat troubled start, and then settled at the back of the pack. She came off the rail into the lane, but was hemmed in at the top of the stretch and then blocked for the duration of the lane. She never got clear at all despite appearing to have some horse.

Interrogation was bet in that race too – she was 7-2 in a 12-horse maiden field. The winner, Taperge, has turned into a useful runner and is entered in the Winter Memories Stakes later on the Thursday card. The runner-up, Inflexibility, would go on to finish third in the Queen’s Plate.

Further, Interrogation is kin to seven different winners, all of whom have earned at least six-figures on the turf. While she hasn’t run since January, we aren’t as concerned about the layoff as we are about the fact that she missed some training time and posts no workouts in October after working steadily in September.

Still, she has more upside than anyone else in this race and we’re going to play Interrogation in the Thanksgiving opener at Aqueduct.

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Saturday at the Big A

It’s a quiet week around the national racing scene, with big races to come at Aqueduct, Del Mar, and Churchill Downs over Thanksgiving weekend and then the Claiming Crown and opening at Gulfstream Park along with the Cigar Mile card at on December 2nd.

Our beloved Fordham Rams had a rough night in Jamaica on Friday (Carribbean Jamaica), and perhaps the Jamaica oval at Aqueduct will be kinder to us today.

Our last go-around yielded a few nice-priced winners and let’s look at a few spots today.

Aqueduct Race 5 – We’ve been following #7 Peculiar Sensation (10-1) since a very tough trip at Belmont on September 9th and bet him on September 30th where he was a solid third at 11-1. Last time out, in his October 20th race, he was racing inside when shuffled back around the far turn, got outside and ran on decently down the lane in a race that collapsed to the outside. His trouble inside on the turn ended any chance he had of winning, but he ran ok.

One of the attractive parts about this race is the favorite is likely to be #5 Discretionary Marq (7-2), who is a half to Discreet Marq and figures to be overbet. She’s been beaten at 3-5 and 6-5 and her win, two back at Belmont, was earned when setting a very slow pace. Yes, last time he was in behind, but it looked like he was clear with enough time and did not finish strong. #9 Mission Command (3-1) also figures to take money after an impressive win in his turf debut last time. But that race featured a very fast pace that fell apart and the runner-up, #10 Lucky Town (15-1) is a longshot in here. This is a much tougher spot.

The concern for Peculiar Sensation is there might be a ton of pace, which would benefit Discretionary Marq, but we’ll take a shot against him nonetheless, using Peculiar Sensation with Mission Command and #6 Psychic Energy (5-1) in exactas.

Update – #12 Canarsie Kid (12-1) drew in from the also-eligible list and should help insert additional pace into the race. That’s good news for Peculiar Sensation.

Aqueduct Race 6 – This is a fun race and we like #1 Mathematician (5-1), who makes his second career start for Mark Hennig. In his debut, he drew the outside and was part of a very fast pace that fell apart (with the exception of runner-up Congruity). Yes, Congruity came back and didn’t run all that well (though everyone in that race got dusted by the impressive Analyze It), but Mathmatician’s race was still good enough for a trainer whose runners often need a start.

Aqueduct Race 8 (Artie Schiller Stakes) – #5 Blacktype (3-1) is probably the horse to beat, but had back to back perfect trips pressing moderate paces in his last two wins. We prefer, of the favorites, #9 Delta Prince (5-2), who was wired by Heart to Heart on the inside-favoring turf late in the Saratoga meet. The downside is a poor post and he could get floated wide. One horse that did not draw poorly is #1 Night Prowler (5-1). We’ve liked him before and might overrate him, but he should get a good trip from this post. He was compromised by the slow pace last time and was only beaten a length by Blacktype and ran his best career Beyer figure at Aqueduct in this race last year (though he was beaten a length for second by Blacktype).

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Thursday Aqueduct Spot Plays

Our Wednesday play did not run well, but there are a few horses we are interested in on Thursday’s card at Aqueduct.

Aqueduct Race 4 – I doubt the morning line price will hold up but we have to take a shot with #1 Momentiempo (12-1), who goes out for Jimmy Toner. She is a half-sister to Grade 1 winner Time & Motion and makes just her second turf start. Her first turf run was last December here at Aqueduct on a soft turf course that she may not have handled. We’ll use her with #8 Pounds to Pennies (7-2), #3 Merger Arbitrage (3-1) and #9 Rain on the Dune (4-1).

Aqueduct Race 6 – Shug McGaughey sends out #1 Fly So High (3-1), who rallied very nicely last time in a race controlled up front. However, she figures to be way overbet here, and we prefer #5 Desert Isle (7-2). Desert Isle, for Graham Motion, ran very well in her debut at Keeneland, rallying from seventh in a race where the leaders were 1-2-3 at every call. She’s by Bernardini out of a Smart Strike dam that produced a Queen’s Plate winner, so the extra distance should be an asset.

Aqueduct Race 8 – #2 Grand Sky (2-1) is a deserving favorite, dropping back to state-bred company after two tries against open foes, but we’ll try #9 Sandy’z Slew (8-1) at a much better price. Sandy’z Slew makes his third start off the claim for trainer Jeremiah Engelhart. In each of his first two starts, he encountered some trouble and was unable to get clear. That shouldn’t happen here as he’s drawn outside in post nine. Further, he should get first run on the closers like Grand Sky pressing a likely moderate pace. Maybe this seven-year old isn’t the same horse he used to be, but he has some races that give him a good chance in this spot. Note that he hasn’t hit the board in two starts at Aqueduct. However, this is the first year Aqueduct has run turf sprints, so those starts were route races and he is a confirmed sprinter.

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Wednesday Play – Samadi Sky Can Wire Aqueduct Allowance

Today’s 8th at Aqueduct is a very interesting New York-bred allowance race that, though it just drew a field of six, came up pretty competitive.

Aqueduct Race 8 – This state-bred two-other-than drew a competitive field of six, led by #3 Can You Diggit (9/5), who goes out for trainer Jimmy Jerkens. Can You Diggit has run into Twisted Tom, a Chad Brown runner that has won every start this year save the Belmont Stakes and was an impressive winner of the Empire Classic last time. Can You Diggit rallied from seventh in that race, one that featured a moderate pace, to be a solid third behind the speed exacta, and he’s very logical in here.

However, this race does not feature a lot of early speed, and that could help our top selection, #4 Samadi Sky (8-1). Samadi Sky goes out for trainer Robert Barbara and goes turf-to-dirt after two tries going long on the grass. In his last race on November 5th, he tracked a fast pace that completely fell apart, chasing solid veteran Changewilldoyagood. Two-back, he rallied strongly to just miss at Belmont and finished ahead of two next-out allowance winners.

The biggest question for Samadi Sky is distance. He’s never gone this far on dirt. Both of those turf races, however, were at 8.5 furlongs, so it’s reasonable to assume the distance is within reach. In his most recent dirt race on September 22nd, he chased a very fast pace that fell apart. His two-back dirt race on August 25th at Saratoga, he was a perfectly solid second to an even-money Chad Brown runner and beat the solid veteran Eye Luv Lulu.

Samadi Sky figures to be the speed in here, and we’d expect Luis Saez to put him on the lead and have the rest of the field play catch me if you can. Our bet is, they can’t.

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Breeders Cup Rewind – Saturday (Turf)

bc_logo_4c1After looking at the Friday Breeders Cup races and the Saturday Breeders Cup dirt races, let’s look at the four Saturday Breeders Cup turf races – the Turf Sprint, Filly & Mare Turf, Mile, and Turf – as we put a bow on Breeders Cup 2017.

As expected, we’ll see all four turf winners benefited from picture-perfect trips. There’s simply no other way to do it in these deep and contentious grass fields on the sport’s championship day.

Previously Friday, Saturday (dirt).

Breeders Cup Turf Sprint 

Recap / Notes – Peter Miller’s horses ran 1-2 in here with Stormy Liberal just getting up over stablemate Richard’s Boy. Stormy Liberal hadn’t run since the Jaipur on the Belmont Stakes undercard, where he broke poorly and rushed up into a fast pace. Previously though, he had run five straight races on Santa Anita’s hillside turf course. Lady Aurelia was way overbet at 4/5, tracked the pace inside and had nothing in the lane.

Christophe Clement’s duo of Disco Partner and Pure Sensation ran 3rd and 5th with Disco Partner closing and Pure Sensation cutting out the fractions.

Holding Gold, our top selection, got caught in traffic at the top of the stretch behind some tiring rivals, including Lady Aurelia, but was moving very well late to only be beaten about a length and three-quarters.

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Saturday’s Aqueduct Late Pick-4

Aqueduct has a very nice card on Saturday with a strong sequence in the late pick-4. Let’s take a look.

Race 6 – #5 Variant Perception (7/2) debuted in the same race as #4 Allured (3/1), both for Chad Brown, on August 19th at Saratoga. Allured finished just ahead of Variant Perception that day, but we prefer Variant Perception, who makes his second start today (Allured was a distance second to the impressive Montauk on October 7th). Variant Perception took a lot of dirt that day and was a touch green in the lane. He should really appreciate the stretch to seven furlongs, and as a son of Curlin, ultimately the stretch to two turns.

This race also features a Godolphin son of Life Is Sweet (by Tapit) for Kiaran McLaughlin, #9 Labeq (8/1) and #1a Vino Rosso (4/1) for Todd Pletcher, a first-time starting son of Curlin.

Still, we are all about Variant Perception in here, using a few as back-ups only. If Vino Rosso or Labeq get heavily bet, we could upgrade one to an A, but mostly we’ll lean on Variant Perception.

A – 5
B – 1a
C – 4, 9

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Saturday Top Play – You Know Too Can Upset at Laurel

There are some good races around the east coast today including at Laurel where they run several stakes races. We’ve found a 15-1 shot we like in Race 6, the Safely Kept Stakes for three year old fillies going seven furlongs.

Laurel, Race 6 – Safely Kept Stakes – This is not the first time we’ve liked You Know Too, as we wrote her up for the August 12th Monmouth Oaks, a race in which she did very little running (she came into that race off a tough-trip behind eventual Cotillion winner It Tiz Well in the Delaware Oaks). However, after rebounding to an easily Delaware allowance win, she ran pretty well in the nine furlong Grade 1 Spinster, tracking the pace, making a nice move after the eventual winner, Romantic Vision, and flattening out late against older rivals. Today, she turns back to seven furlongs and should get some pace to attack at a big price. #6 You Know Too (15-1) is our upset pick.

#13 Your Love (5-2) is the morning line favorite for trainer Chad Brown, but comes out a good trip win against a very weak field and figures to be overbet.

#11 Shimmering Aspen (3-1) has the best race in the field, a 97 Beyer, 5 1/2 length win in a stakes here in August. She was not good in the Charles Town Oaks last time at 6/5 but that’s a two-turn seven furlongs and a lot of horses don’t handle the West Virginia bullring. She’s come out of there with some snappy workouts, so we’ll give her another shot. #10 Ms Locust Point won the Gin Talking here on New Year’s Eve before setting a fast pace in a race that collapsed at Gulfstream on February 4th. She hasn’t been out since, but draws well and John Servis does well off long layoffs. #4 Dawn the Destroyer (6-1) improved since switching to Kiaran McLaughlin, though her three races for her new trainer all came over sloppy tracks. Still, her off-the-pace style could suit the track profile.

We’ll play You Know Too to win and play her in exactas and trifectas with the 4, 10, and 11, and a little bit of the 8 and 13.

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Breeders Cup Rewind – Saturday (Dirt)

bc_logo_4c1Originally, the plan was to break up Saturday into the early races and the late races, but considering the track featured a profoundly bad inside on dirt, we are going to look at the five Saturday Breeders Cup dirt races all in one post and the turf races in this post and the four Breeders Cup Saturday turf races in another.

Previously Breeders Cup Friday.

Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies

Recap / Notes – Winner Caledonia Road ran very well to get the win but of course benefitted from both a fast pace and being outside well off the bad rail. She’ll come back in the winter at Gulfstream and will probably be one to oppose until she shows she can repeat this effort under different circumstances. Bob Baffert’s Alluring Star pressed the solid pace from the 2-path, took over at the top of the lane and was run down late. She ran very well. Alluring Star was the expected pace-setter, but Moonshine Memories was surprisingly gunned to the lead, setting fast fractions on the bad inside and though we didn’t love her going in, this is not a representative race considering the pace and her presence on the bad rail. Separationofpowers drew poorly (13) and had to track the fast pace, though she was on the good part of the track. She ran fine, but is something of a mixed bag considering she did get to race off the rail. Heavenly Love tracked the fast pace on the bad inside and was all done on the far turn.

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Breeders Cup Rewind – Friday

bc_logo_4cThe two days of racing at Breeders Cup 2017 led to some thrilling finishes and some tremendous performances. We previewed all 13 races, but now it’s time to look back and see what we did right and what we did wrong.

Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf

Recap / Notes – Rushing Fall ran an excellent race to win by a length on the wire. She was 2-3 wide on the first turn and then 4-5 wide on the second turn, covering nearly 50-feet more than the runner-up, Best Performance. Third-place finisher September ran very well after missing the break. She was able to tuck back and save a little ground but was basically out of position the whole race, farther back than she would have been. She was moving very well late. Significant Form and Fatale Bere also were wide. Significant Form was also up on the solid pace while Fatale Bere was wide and maybe made the first big off the pace move around the far turn. All in all it was a very good race and the top five finishers all seem like very good prospects moving forward.

Here’s the Trakus chart for the Juvenile Fillies Turf.

BCJuvenileFilliesTurf-Trakus

What We Got Right – This was a frustrating race as we keyed everything around September, who finished third but was maybe best and no worse than second best. Rushing Fall was our second choice and Best Performance our fourth choice, but we still ended up with nothing. Oh well.

What We Got Wrong – We were too bullish on Happily, who was terrible and coming off two soft-turf Group 1 wins, we probably should have tossed her at a short price.

The remainder of the Friday races are below the fold.

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