Saturday’s TimeformUS Highlight Horse: Harlan Punch can rebound on short rest in the Excelsior

Aqueduct | Race 7 | Post Time 4:11 p.m. (ET) | Go to the TimeformUS PPs
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I thought this was one of the tougher stakes on this card. I suppose the New York-bred win machine Control Group (#7) will be favored to get his seventh win in his last eight starts. He clearly handles this nine-furlong distance and appears to be the controlling speed. My knock against him is that his last effort was a step in the wrong direction. I know that he got some early pressure, but he earned a speed figure that was significantly slower than his prior two starts. This is the toughest field he’s ever met, and he’s vulnerable here.

I strongly prefer the other runner who returns on short rest, HARLAN PUNCH (#5).

Harlan Punch disappointed as the 3-5 favorite last time, but that effort was not nearly as bad as it seems. He broke a half-step slowly and just appeared to spend the entire race playing catch-up going a distance that is a bit too short. He got pushed down to the rail late when getting passed for third, but he quickly galloped out past the leaders just after the wire. This gelding’s 10-furlong win back in February illustrates that he’s perfectly capable of handling this distance, and he’s won off short rest before. If he gets back to any of his prior efforts, he’ll be awfully tough to beat.

The other runners I want to use are Zanotti (#3), the upset winner of the Queens County, and Backsideofthemoon (#1), who has been in great form and rarely gets respect on the tote board.

THE PLAY

Win: 5
Exacta Key Box: 5 with 1,3,7
Trifecta: 5 with 1,3 with 1,2,3,4,7

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