Saturday Spot Plays

Let’s look at a few spots today at both Aqueduct and Gulfstream.

Aqueduct Race 6 – This is a two-other-than seven-furlong allowance race for NY-breds and there should be a) a fast pace and b) the seven-furlong distance should stretch some of the speed horses. The biggest beneficiary is likely #4 Giantinthemoonlite (4-1) for Charlton Baker. He was in a fast-paced heat last time and was closest to the pace among the top three finishers, who made late, outside moves. Giantinthemoonlite was hemmed in for much of the stretch and had to rally between horses.

Aqueduct Race 7 – As of this writing, they are not sure if this race will stay on the grass, but if it does, why not #1 Louisiana Lady (12-1)? Louisiana Lady broke her maiden wiring a sprint field on this course at 38-1 last month and while a bunch in this field come out of a race that fell apart last time, the speed horses from there are not in here. Hector Diaz is going to send Louisiana Lady from the rail and she should have a pace advantage at a good price.

Gulfstream Race 2 (Wait a While Stakes) – Chad Brown and Shug McGaughey have major contenders in this race but we’ll try Christophe Clement’s #11 Golden Orb (8-1) at a better price. Golden Orb comes out of the November 4th Chelsea Flower at Aqueduct where she was completely blocked in the stretch (#9, white sleeves, red cap):

She didn’t run especially well at Woodbine two-back but did have to dive inside in that race too (though she had room for the last furlong without much rally). Golden Orb did, however, win her other two-turn race, her debut on firm turf at Saratoga in August.

#10 Subtle Step (9-2) was an impressive debut winner at Keeneland for Shug McGaughey, over a horse that came back to win and improve her figure 11 points. That, however, was a race run in 1:46.11 seconds for 8.5 furlongs, indicating a slower, heavier turf course typical of the end of the Keeneland fall meeting, and the exact opposite of what she gets today. That said, obviously if McGaughey wins on debut, there is a pretty good chance the horse can run. We just think she’ll be too short of a price.

Gulfstream Race 3 (Buffalo Man Stakes) – We want to play against #5 Mojovation (1-1), who ran his big debut figure on a strong-inside track and hasn’t come close to replicating that in his other starts. There aren’t a lot of alternatives, but we’ll single #4 Diamond Oops (2-1) in multis. He won his first two starts over this track and last time in the Saratoga Special was chasing wide on a day when you wanted to be inside after stumbling at the start.

Gulfstream Race 6 (Pulpit Stakes) – #7 Maraud (8-5) is the horse to beat, coming out of a third place finish in the Pilgrim. But we’ll try to get #11 Bantu (12-1) into the number at a big price for trainer Brendan Walsh. He won his first route race at Ellis nicely over a horse that came back to win and improve his figure by eight points. Then he didn’t run poorly behind the impressive Snapper Sinclair at Kentucky Downs when stuck inside as the race fell apart around him. You can toss his Keeneland race last time on soft turf. From post 11, hopefully Nik Juarez puts him into the race early on.

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Sunday at The Big A

Let’s look at a few spots on Sunday at Aqueduct.

Race 2 – #4 Coffee Crush (6-1), out of multiple graded stakes winner Wasted Tears, makes her second career start for Jimmy Toner after a slow start and rank debut in which she ran up on heels and had to be steadied on the backstretch. She settled down and was moving well late to be fifth. Runner-up Data Dependent returned to win and then run second in the G3 Jimmy Durante at Del Mar last weekend.

Race 6 – This race could feature a fast pace, but the closers are not reliable win types and there’s one horse, albeit a speed horse, that we want to try. #3 Hardened (20-1) goes out for Dave Cannizzo and he has been in some tough spots. He chased Takaful in his debut last year. Then this year when switched to grass, he beat Sethary, who came back to win by five. Then they tried him in a stakes race against White Flag and Big Handsome. Then last time he tracked a pace going seven furlongs against subsequent winner Next Shares, who came back to win with a 92 Beyer. There are potential pace rivals, but he’s facing an easier group of rivals than he has faced before.

Race 7 – If #4 War Canoe (3-1) runs back to her last race, a 3.5 length win with an 87 Beyer, she is going to win, but that race stands out on her past performances. She doesn’t have to repeat that. If she doesn’t, this race is completely wide open. We’ll try #10 Hardly Mate (10-1). Three-back, she caught the impressive La Moneda and was a little green. She dropped into a maiden claiming race to get a win two-back and last time made a nice wide run in a race that held together up front. There could be a decent pace in here and she goes out for an excellent trainer in Mike Maker.

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Aqueduct Two-Year Old Stakes – A Delacour Double?

Let’s take a quick look at the two-year old stakes on the Cigar Mile undercard. Both are nine furlong races, the Remsen for the boys and the Demoiselle for the girls.

Aqueduct Race 9 (G2 Remsen– We are going to try #8 Vouch (6-1), a winner on debut at Laurel for Arnaud Delacour. Vouch was heavily bet (even-month) on debut and toyed with the field, winning 8 lengths while setting a moderate pace on the typically-weaker Laurel inside. The was one other inside winner on the card, but most of the winners, like usual there, made late wide moves. Vouch is a half to Calamity Kate, a stakes-winner going long, and her debut win was going two-turns. Our other main use is #7 Alkhaatam (7-2) for Chad Brown. He was a closing third on debut behind Indimaaj, a fellow-Shadwell runner that goes out for Kiaran McLaughlin. We were hoping to see Indimaaj in here and really liked his race that day.

Aqueduct Race 8 (G2 Demoiselle) – We’re going to take a shot with another Arnaud Delacour / Laurel shipper, this time #7 Layla Noor (12-1). This is actually the first time she’s been entered to run on dirt (though she was fourth to Rushing Fall in the Jessamine at Keeneland). Last time, however, she broke poorly, stayed on the weaker rail, got shuffled back, and exploded on the rail to win going away. It was a very impressive performance, and though perhaps a bit slow, it was a better race in reality than the figure makes it look, and she’ll be a big price. We’ll also have to use #6 Maurer Power (4-1), an explosive debut winner going 6.5 furlongs for John Servis and #3 Wonder Gadot (2-1) who had trouble in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies (though she might have been done already). #1 Daisy (5-2) was a nice winner of the Tempted, but that was a weaker field. She’ll probably be loose on the lead, however.

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The Cigar Mile

There are just four Grade 1 races left on the calendar, and today’s Cigar Mile is the last one in New York. Typically, the race is run on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, but that would have been just three weeks after the Breeders Cup. NYRA wisely bumped the Cigar Mile back a week and landed a stellar field that includes three Breeders Cup runners and another that ran on one of the undercards.

The two favorites both come out of the Breeders Cup Dirt Mile – #6 Sharp Azteca (2-1) and #8 Practical Joke (7-2). Of the two, we prefer Practical Joke, who was compromised by a very slow pace in the two-turn Dirt Mile but will prefer the configuration of this one-turn race. Sharp Azteca was on the weaker inside in the Dirt Mile, but the pace was slow and he has a few solid pace rivals in here.

Among the other contenders, #1 Mind Your Biscuits (5-1) comes out of the Breeders Cup Sprint where he was aided by being off the bad rail and got some pace. He also has to show his closing kick will be as effective going a mile and won’t be a huge price. #2 Seymourdini (6-1) ran a big race in the Bold Ruler, rallying very well late after dropping back around the far turn. Plus, he has the State Dinner to run back to, where he ran a 113 Beyer on July 3rd, though that was in the mud.

This brings us to the 1-2 finishers from that Bold Ruler, #4 Tom’s Ready (8-1) and #10 Beasley (12-1). Both were aided by the fast pace, though Tom’s Ready made the last clear move on the outside while Beasley was hemmed in by Stallwalkin’ Dude (who came back to win the Fall Highweight last week) and then by Tom’s Ready. Beasley also has more room for improvement being a three-year old with just seven career starts. All four of his races since his layoff have been very good and we’re playing for a Beasley upset.

The Play – We’ll bet Beasley to win and use him in the exacta with Practical Joke, Tom’s Ready and Seymourdini.

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Sunday Spot Plays

There’s more solid racing today across the country and we’ll look at a few at Aqueduct and Del Mar.

Aqueduct Race 2 – #8 News Anchor (2-1) is the obvious horse to beat but was defeated at 4-5 and 3-5 in his last two starts (granted he had legit trouble two-back). Still, he feels destined to be overbet. We’ll try #9 Perfectexpectation (6-1) for trainer Mike Maker. Perfectexpectation was fifth behind News Anchor two-back, but was close to a very fast pace that fell apart in that race. Then last time, he missed the break, settled at the back, and made a big wide early move before fading in the last furlong. With a good break, he’ll be forwardly placed today and should get the jump on News Anchor.

Aqueduct Race 5 – There’s not a lot of speed in here and that should benefit #8 Empress of the Nile (5-1). She ran an enormous race two-back to break her maiden at Saratoga and then was thrown to the wolves in the G2 Sands Point. She’s back where she can win and a repeat of her maiden race makes her very tough. She’ll be up close on what should be a pretty moderate pace.

Del Mar Race 7 (Matriarch Stakes) – East Coast horses did well in the two turf stakes at Del Mar yesterday, with Mo Town taking the G1 Hollywood Derby and Daddy Is a Legend winning the G3 Jimmy Durante. We’re also taking an east coast horse here in the Matriarch, #8 Off Limits (5-1), who goes out for trainer Chad Brown. Off Limits was a dominant winner of the Noble Damsel two-back and then won the Athenia last time by a half-length. That, however, was a more dominant victory than it appears on paper, as Joel Rosario gave her a very confident ride. Her off the pace style suits this Del Mar turf course, and there should be some pace to flatter her late run as well. As an underneath use, we’re including #1 Mrs McDougal (15-1) who will be a huge price for Richard Mandella. She had a horrible trip in the Goldikova on the Breeders Cup card, getting totally blocked at the top of the lane. We’ll also use #12 Kitten’s Roar (7-2), #11 Miss Julia Star (20-1), and #7 Cambodia (3-1).

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Saturday Spot Plays

Today is a very good day of racing around the country and we’ll try to pick out a few winners here. Yesterday, we had a few nice hits with Small Bear winning at Aqueduct and Seeking the Soul taking the Clark at Churchill (and surviving a jockey’s objection in the process).

Today, we’ll look at a few races at Aqueduct, Churchill Downs and their Stars of Tomorrow II card, and Del Mar who runs a few very nice races on their closing weekend.

Aqueduct Race 3 – A few of these have been running against each other – #1 I’m a Captain Now (5-2), #9 Culture Carrier (2-1), and #8 Captain Hardship (4-1). We prefer Captain Hardship, who was most compromised by a very slow pace last time out and two-back had to wait for room after getting shuffled back late on the far turn. All three can win, but we’ll try Captain Hardship, who should be the biggest price of the trio.

Aqueduct Race 8 (Turf Sprint Championship) – #11 Bucchero (3-1) is the favorite after a solid fourth in the Breeders Cup Turf Sprint, but this race will feature an extra furlong, not an insignificant difference, and a much thicker and lusher turf course than he’s run on in his last two races. We like #3 White Flag (7-2) as a horse and can excuse his last race on the soft turf at Woodbine. We’ll use in a multi-race wager, but he might be a little short to play on the win end in this competitive field. Our top pick is #5 Conquest Panthera (6-1), who was a closing fourth in the Woodford (behind Bucchero) after a slight steady at the top of the stretch. He ran a decent race last time on yielding turf going a mile at Churchill Downs and turns back to six furlongs for this race. He’s probably best going seven furlongs, but hopefully he gets enough pace and he’ll be a solid price. We should note that #4 Rainbow Heir (10-1) is an interesting horse at his morning line price, though we just think he’s at his absolute best on the rock-hard, super-firm turf courses of Florida or what you get in the mid-summer, not over Thanksgiving weekend at Aqueduct.

Aqueduct Race 9 (Discovery) – There should be a decent pace in here and that could help #2 Can You Diggit (8-1), stretching back out to two-turns for trainer Jimmy Jerkens. He ran fine last time going a one-turn mile when he was forced back inside in the stretch. His two nine-furlong races featured fairly moderate paces that helped Twisted Tom, who has been in great form all year.

Churchill Downs Race 11 (Kentucky Jockey Club) – We’re against the horses coming out of the Street Sense, a slow race that featured a bunched finish. #6 Enticed (4-1) might be the horse to beat. The son of G1 winner It’s Tricky was close to the fast pace in the Champagne last time and hung on well to be third. Good Magic, who was second in that race and also chased the fast pace, of course came back to win the Breeders Cup Juvenile. #5 Givemeaminit (6-1) has been one of our favorite two-year olds this year and should benefit from the expected solid pace, but we want to try an up-and-comer for Dale Romans. #12 Tiz Mischief (8-1) we thought was very impressive breaking his maiden at Keeneland on October 7th and he’s been pointed to this race since then – presumably Romans didn’t want to cut him back to the one-turn of the Street Sense. In his maiden-breaking win, which was one-tenth of a second slower than the G1 Breeders Futurity on the same card, Tiz Mischief had a bit of a stop-and-start trip and leveled off nicely to run down a loose-leader. It was a solid performance.

Del Mar Race 7 (Hollywood Derby) – #7 Mo Town (3-1) freaked in his turf debut last time out, a 6 1/2 length win with a 102 Beyer, making him the horse to beat. However, we want to try #3 Channel Maker (5-1) for Bill Mott. He, like several of today’s rivals, come out of the Twilight Derby which featured a very slow pace. Channel Maker made a decent rally late from well out of it but had no chance to win trying to make up significant ground into a final three furlongs run in 34.49 seconds.

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Post-Turkey Spot Plays

Let’s look at a few spots for today’s post-Thanksgiving racing at Aqueduct and Churchill Downs.

Aqueduct Race 3 (Key Cents) – This is a sprint for two-year old New York-breds and we’ll try #4 Newport Breeze (8-1) who turns back to six furlongs after setting a very fast pace going a mile last time in the Maid of the Mist. She had a very interesting trip three-back in the Seeking the Ante at Saratoga where she dropped back and re-rallied, apparently not handling dirt in her face, and then broke slowly in the Gimma. If she returns to her better form going shorter, she can upset.

Aqueduct Race 4 – #7 Rapt (4-1) has run some solid races going this mile and a sixteenth distance and struggled going longer. He stays at 8.5 furlongs today after a solid race last time where he rallied well behind wire-to-wire winner Black Tide in the NY-bred Mohawk Stakes.

Aqueduct Race 7 – If she takes some money, we’ll bet #3 Hail (5-1), who is a Tapit half-sister to Close Hatches and Lockdown going out for Bill Mott. Mott is 18% with a $2.42 ROI (DRF Formulator) debuting fillies on the dirt in sprints. Remember, he debuted Elate this weekend last year to a rousing debut victory.

Aqueduct Race 8 – #2 Small Bear (5-1) has always been a pretty good horse and faces a much easier field this time than he did in the Hill Prince last time out. His two-back race at Saratoga was good, going wide while Hieroglyphics saved more ground. We’ll play him  with the logical favorite #4 Secretary at War (3-1), who should be the controlling speed and will appreciate the class relief and the cutback to 8.5 furlongs.

Aqueduct Race 9 – I don’t want to play Miss Sky Warrior at a short price so let’s try our old friend #2 You Know Too (20-1), who we did play last time at Laurel when she didn’t run especially well but she should sit a good trip behind the expected solid pace, should stretch-out, and will get the jump on our preferred closer #3 Parade (6-1). If You Know Too can run back to her Delaware Oaks, or even her Spinster where she middle-moved against older, she can spice up the exotics.

Churchill Race 9 (Mrs Revere) – This three-year old turf test is led by Daddys Lil Darling, coming out of a runner-up finishing the Grade 1 QEII last time at Keeneland. Still, let’s try #3 Westit (10-1). She is second-time North America, but first time Graham Motion and first-time Lasix. Her US debut was against some very good older horses – Off Limits (our pick for Sunday’s Matriarch at Del Mar), My Impression, and Elysea’s World. Westit might prefer turf that is a bit more firm than she likely gets here but she should be a very attractive price.

Churchill Race 11 (Clark Handicap) – Diversify is obviously the horse to beat off his win in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, but maybe #2 Seeking the Soul (6-1) is the “now-horse” for trainer Dallas Stewart. He jumped up to a career-best 103 Beyer last time, a figure that fits based on what was earned in there by the second, third and fourth place finishers. His prior Churchill race was solid, rallying behind Honorable Duty, who had it his way on the lead – that won’t be the case here with the presence of Diversify.


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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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