Due to the recent racing cancellations, a full field of 3-year-old fillies has been assembled for this unusually strong New York-bred maiden race.
While there’s no clear favorite, tepid morning line choice Scorpion Bowl (#10) is undoubtedly one of the key players. Linda Rice has fantastic numbers with second-time starters and has done particularly well at Aqueduct. Over the past five years, she is 24 for 55 (44 percent, $3.49) with second-time-starting maidens in dirt sprints at this track. This filly also performed like a horse who badly needed a race. After showing speed immediately after the start, she appeared to lose focus as Paco Lopez relaxed his hands heading into the far turn. She steadied out of position and briefly appeared poised to finish well back in the pack. However, once into the stretch, she responded to her rider’s mild encouragement and might have even gotten up for third had she not steadied late. She figures to run a much more professional race this time and show much more early initiative. However, too much early aggression could be problematic in a race where a number of contenders appear to have speed.
For that reason, I’m trying to beat her with PUFFERY (#4). This Mark Hennig trainee was soundly defeated at a short price last time, but she got a fairly uncomfortable trip that day. Racing down inside, Puffery had to steady at multiple points while getting shuffled back around the far turn. Already out of contention by the time the field reached the top of the stretch, she was not hard-ridden through the final furlongs. I’m hoping that she still got something out of the race because she had previously run fast enough in her debut to suggest she can beat this field.
I’ll primarily use her with Scorpion Bowl. However, at a much bigger price, I also want to include longshot My Lightnin Strike (#7). This filly showed vastly improved speed in her second start, albeit on turf. She has a decidedly dirt-leaning pedigree, so perhaps she’s getting back on the right surface here.
Exacta Box: 4,7,10
Exacta Key Box: 4 with 1,6,11