Friday’s TimeformUS Highlight Horse: Rock Ave. Road returns to turf in need of better racing luck

Aqueduct | Race 7 | Post Time 4:44 p.m. (ET) | Go to the TimeformUS PPs
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The second of two turf sprints on this opening day of the NYRA turf season features a heavy favorite in Awsum Roar (#5). This filly is a bit of a conundrum. If she runs back to the turf efforts she put forth as a 2-year-old, she’s very likely to win this race. However, plenty of time has passed since then, and her return in a dirt race last time was not encouraging. She now switches to the barn of Jason Servis, who is as good a trainer of turf sprinters as there is in the country. She appears to be faster than pace rival Ribbonite and may just take this field wire to wire. On the other hand, I’m reticent to accept a short price on a horse who has so many questions to answer.

The best alternative I can find is ROCK AVE. ROAD (#11).

At first glance, she looks inferior to some of her competitors, but a closer examination of her 2017 turf races reveals that her overall form is stronger than it appears. Let’s just look at her races against winners. She was hindered by a wide trip against a slow pace on Aug. 13 at Saratoga. Then on Sept. 9, she got caught in traffic late while making a run up the rail. She had to alter course multiple times when searching for running room on Oct. 1 and then was too close to a pace that collapsed on Nov. 17. Clearly, this mare has had excuses. She returns at the perfect distance and should work out a favorable stalking trip in a race that does not feature a plethora of early-speed types.

THE PLAY

Win: 11
Exacta Key Box: 11 with 1,5,10​

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