Thursday’s TimeformUS Highlight Horse: Improving Davka makes his first start on the East Coast

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Aqueduct | Race 6 | Post Time 3:26 p.m. (ET) | Go to the TimeformUS PPs

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Regalian (#2) seems likely to go off favored after running a surprisingly strong race in last month’s Jerome. He was aided by the slow pace of that race, which he was stalking, but he nevertheless held on well while just losing third late. That said, it’s not as if he ran that much better than Jerome rival Factor This (#4), a closer who may have been hindered by the dawdling early pace. The one reservation I have about Factor This is that there isn’t much speed in this field either, so he may be compromised once again.

I’ve decided to try a new face. The shipper likely to take the most money is Polar Outbreak (#6), who ran a decent race when stretched out at Laurel last time. However, the horse who interests me most at a bigger price is DAVKA (#7).

I like the way Davka has progressed ever since being gelded midway through his 2-year-old season. He put in a vastly improved performance on Oct. 27 and followed that up with a gutsy win on Nov. 17 that is a much stronger effort than it appears. Breaking from the outside going two turns at Del Mar, Davka got hung out five wide around the first turn and raced four wide around the second turn. According to Trakus, he raced an average of 39 feet farther than the rest of the field. He traveled 38 feet farther than the runner-up, who returned to win his next start, improving both his Beyer and TimeformUS speed figures. There are still some negatives, however. He exits Peter Miller’s barn and moves into the stable of Mark Casse, who has poor numbers with trainer switches on the dirt. That said, this horse is going to be a square price, and he possesses the early speed to take advantage of a paceless situation.

THE PLAY

Win: 7

Exacta Key Box: 7 with 1,2,4,6​

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