Friday’s TimeformUS Highlight Horse: Harlan Punch will appreciate the turnback in distance

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Aqueduct | Race 7 | Post Time 3:58 p.m. (ET) | Go to the TimeformUS PPs

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With the scratch of favorite Pioneer Spirit, this becomes a two-horse race between Harlan Punch and Classy Class.

Classy Class (#2) returned from a layoff last time going today’s one-mile distance and finished second as the close 3-2 second choice in the wagering. I thought he really had no excuse to lose that day, since he was allowed to contest a relatively moderate pace and simply got run down in the late stages. The one positive thing that you can say about that performance is that both of the other runners that finished in the money that day came back to run very well. Vulcan’s Forge finished a solid second in the Grade 3 Toboggan next time out, and third-place finisher Backsideofthemoon returned to win the Jazil Stakes. Classy Class can get the mile and he typically shows up with a good effort, but I prefer the other runner likely to take money here.

My pick is HARLAN PUNCH (#1). This gelding has been in fantastic form for David Jacobson recently, and his performance in the Jazil last time out was not quite as bad as it seems. He finished last of four that day, but he broke slowly and had to be hustled into contention in the first furlong. That race was dominated by the two runners that rode the rail, and it did seem that the Jan. 20 track was mildly favoring inside runners, since he may have been compromised by his two- to three-wide trip. A one-turn mile is clearly a much better distance for him and he figures to work out a great stalking trip. He also won’t be hindered by a wet track today.

I could also throw in Securitiz (#5) underneath in exactas and trifectas. He gets some needed class relief here, but I worry that this distance is a bit too short for him.

THE PLAY

Win: 1

Trifecta: 1 with 2,5 with ALL

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