There is a pretty solid card at Aqueduct today, with some very interesting races early in the card, and then at Gulfstream, there are some very interesting races later in the card. Let’s take a look.
Busanda Stakes (AQU3) – This is the first of New York’s series of stakes that lead to the Gazelle and ultimately the Kentucky Oaks. We’ll go with Lockdown (3-1) for Bill Mott. Lockdown is a full sister to his Grade-1 winner Close Hatches and moves into stakes company after breaking her maiden last time. In that December 17th race, she pressed what was a solid pace from the 2-path and then moved to the good inside in the lane, drawing off to win easily. Her pace rival retreated to finish 8th at 7-2. While the runner-up in there arguably ran a better race considering how wide she was, that runner, Chad Brown’s Devine Union, isn’t in here (we’d pick her if she was). Lockdown’s first race was solid, rallying from behind a slow pace while green and likely needing the race, typical of a Bill Mott youngster.
The 6-5 morning line favorite is Libby’s Tail and we are a bit skeptical of her going two-turns, though her one-turn mile loss to Yellow Agate in the October 8th Grade-1 Frizette would likely win this. Libby’s Tail is the one to beat, but I don’t want to take her going two turns at a short price. Todd Pletcher runs Sand Shark (5-2), fresh off a maiden-breaking win at Gulfstream. That race, however, didn’t come back especially fast (60 Beyer) and the runner-up, Pray for Bourbon, had disappointed in her previous start and then did so again yesterday, finishing fifth at 2-1 in a Gulfstream maiden (though the third finisher did return to finish 2nd with a 67 Beyer in her subsequent start).
Aqueduct 4th – The race after the Busanda is another 1-mile 70-yard test for 3 year old fillies, these being maidens. The second choice on the morning line is our selection, Ghoul’s Night Out (3-1) for trainer Tony Dutrow. This filly was nudged along for almost all of her debut race at Laurel, as if she a) needed a start, and b) needed two turns, and was pretty green in the stretch. Dutrow is 31% with a $2.16 ROI with second time starters on the dirt in the last five years, and 9-33 with a $2.60 ROI when going sprint-to-route with second time starters on the dirt.
Gulfstream 9th – Obviously if All Included (3-1, will be much lower) runs back to his races from last year and 2015, he will win this race. But isn’t it a bit odd that he is entered for the $62,500 tag, especially when they could have run him in the Grade 2 Fort Lauderdale yesterday? He was third beaten a length and a half in that race last year against horses that were in the race yesterday. I would imagine someone will take a chance on him for that price, and that feels like a suspicious drop.
Both Hockey School (8-1) and Performance Bonus (4-1) come out of a very slow-paced race at Aqueduct on November 12th. In that race, Hockey School was surprisingly rated (compromising both his chances and Performance Bonus’ chances) and hung wide while Security Risk set a slow pace and wired the field. If forced to pick one, I would take Hockey School at a bigger price, but will use both in a daily double connected to the next race…
Gulfstream 10th – Category Two (15-1) was part of one of the fastest paces of the Aqueduct-inner meet on December 10th, when he set a blistering pace that completely collapsed. His pace rival that day, Grumpelstiltskin, came back to win at Aqueduct, while Category Two switches to this 5-furlong turf sprint. He is half to two turf winners including turf stakes winner Miss Lombardi.