Assuming they remain on the grass today at Aqueduct (they were off the grass on Wednesday and had to take a few off the grass on Thursday), the 8th race is an interesting optional-claimer going six furlongs on the outer turf course.
Our key horse is #6 Blessed Halo (12-1). He’ll have to deal with the speed of Dr. Shane early on here but there’s not a ton of other speed in the race. Blessed Halo last raced on October 5th at Belmont going seven furlongs on the Widener turf course, a time of the meet when the rails were down and being on the inside was the most important thing. The top three finishers from that race all spent most of the time inside, including repeat winner Dowse’s Beach (he ran a 94 Beyer that day and repeated with a 102 on Sunday). Second and third place finishers End Play and Toughest O’mbre are back in this spot.
Blessed Halo chased Dowse’s Beach early on while on the outside, and reasonably faded as he was not only chasing a top rival (for this class level) but also doing so while against the grain of the racetrack. His previous turf race, on July 6th, featured a very fast pace that came apart and he was on that pace, finishing ahead of his pace rival, the 7/5 favorite, and only getting beaten by a length. Both performances were better than they look on paper.
The other horse we want to use is #5 Stolen Pistol (5-1). He too was in that October 5th Dowse’s Beach race and had to chase wide and had no shot in there, fading back. But considering the way the track played, that race is a throw-out. His race two-back was excellent. In that August 27th heat at Saratoga, he was off a step slow and then had to rally very wide behind a pace that didn’t collapse. A repeat of that race would likely win this one. Two-back, he had no shot behind eventual Breeders Cup Turf Sprint runner-up World of Trouble in the Quick Call.
We’ll key around Blessed Halo in the exacta and trifecta, mostly with Stolen Pistol but also with Dr. Shane, Tombelaine, and a little Toughest O’mbre and Battle Station.