Aqueduct and Gulfstream drew big cards for Saturday, cards that include the Gotham at Aqueduct, featuring Withers winner El Areeb and the Fountain of Youth, featuring Holy Bull winner Irish War Cry.
Both races hand out Derby points on a 50-20-10-5 basis, all but ensuring a berth for the winner, and likely the runner-up.
We’ll start at Aqueduct with the Gotham (we’re doing this before the morning line so that’s why you don’t see any odds listed).
1 – J Boys Echo – He was our pick in the Withers last time and ran well from post 10, going wide on both turns, but flattening out a bit late behind El Areeb. He ran 26 feet further than El Areeb per Trakus, not enough to account for the 4.5 length gap between them, but moves inside today and makes his second start of the year for trainer Dale Romans. The rail post should be a big plus, as jockey Robby Albarado should be able to get forward position early and save ground behind whatever pace develops.
2 – Gaetano – He’s already made 10 starts, mostly at Parx, and this is his seventh for trainer Lupe Preciado. He’s never run faster than a 65 Beyer and would be a massive upset.
3 – Miggsy – He’s interesting at what should be a decent price. This will be his fourth start for trainer Rudy Rodriguez. In his debut, he ran well and was wired by Skyler’s Scramjet, who ran an 84 Beyer that day (though he flopped in the Mucho Macho Man in January). Two-back, he chased Grumpelstilstkin, who wired the field while racing on a gold rail and Miggsy was forced to chase wide but finished strong. Then last time, he stretched out to two-turns and was 2-3 wide pressing a solid pace which collapsed and he held off rallyers to get the win. That only earned a 73 Beyer, but one of his pace rivals, Mr. Dougie Fresh, returned to win and improve his figure by 14 points. He should get a good trip with his tactical speed and inside post. He’ll have to improve, but his race two-back shows some promise and he’ll be a big price, and part of our play.
4 – El Areeb – He’ll be below even money in this race, and he should be, coming off three straight blowout wins, including one by 4 1/4 lengths in the Withers over this track. That said, if he doesn’t improve, he could still win, but others are in position where they could jump up and beat him. He’s obviously the horse to beat, but there are a few interesting price horses in here.
5 – Glennrichment – Miggsy beat him by a nose last time, but Miggsy’s other races are much better. To be fair, Glennrichment’s last race was his first time on a fast track. Still, he had good trip last time and was aided by the pace. He’ll be a big surprise.
6 – True Timber – He ran pretty well last time, stumbling at the start and rushing up to set the pace, but was no match for El Areeb. Despite his stumble, he was still able to advance and set a very slow pace, and got beat by 11 lengths behind El Areeb in the Jerome two back.
7 – Apartfromthecrowd – He was 7-2 in the Withers and didn’t run very well but he was in good position throughout. His win two-back was on a gold rail and he would surprise us with a win.
8 – So Conflated – Doug O’Neill scratched him from the Risen Star last week when he drew post 14 and re-directed him here. His debut at Del Mar was pretty good, and he was beaten only three lengths by American Anthem (a Bob Baffert trainee that would be our top Derby pick if they ran the race today). Two back, he was placed first after a nice trip in a maiden race but was in a good field (he finished ahead of Law Abidin Citizen who came back to break his maiden and hit the board in the G2 San Vicente, improving his figure each time up to an 89 and the winner Dabster returned to break his maiden and improve his figure by four points). He then won the California Derby on synthetic, running fine against a weak field. One concern is he doesn’t possess a ton of speed but I respect this class lines. I think he’s a player.
9 – Cloud Computing – Watch his debut win (2/11, AQU, race 4). He broke slowly, moved up inside, angled out, was green trying to lug-in, and then leveled off and flew home. It was very impressive for trainer Chad Brown. He is a major player. I have one major concern. He feels like the horse that is going to be 5-2 that should be 4-1. But he won’t knock us out of a multi-race wager.
10 – Action Everyday – Todd Pletcher runs this horse after a pace-pressing allowance win at Tampa Bay, where he also broke his maiden in his debut. I don’t love the post and I don’t love the way he drifted out last time. He’ll beat us.
The Pace – Miggsy should be up close if not on the lead but it’s likely Kendrick Carmouche sends True Timber to the front. Cloud Computing will be up close pressing and it’s likely Rajiv Maragh will send Action Everyday from the outside. El Areeb has the speed to go if he wants, but they rated him last time with much success so he’ll probably stalk from up close again. We’d expect the pace to be solid, but not blazing.
Analysis – We’d pick Cloud Computing if we knew he’s be 4-1 but as we noted above, suspect he might be the wise-guy horse here. We took J Boys Echo last time, and he ran good enough to give him one more chance here at hopefully 6-1. Yes, he got beat by El Areeb last time but this time draws a much better post and should get a little more pace.
The Play – We’ll bet J Boys Echo to win and try to get him or Miggsy home on top in exactas, adding in El Areeb and Cloud Computing and a little So Conflated underneath.