A few entrants exit the seventh race on Jan. 12, which was also contested at this class level and distance. Mr. Dougie Fresh (#5) was the slight favorite and looked like a winner past the eighth pole before a resurgent Stoney Bennett reclaimed the lead at the wire. Mr. Dougie Fresh will be tough to beat if he merely repeats that performance, but he got a fantastic stalking trip that day in a race that seemed to favor those with a forward position.
I prefer Allured (#4) out of that spot since he had to race through traffic and was closing best of all at the end. Chad Brown has good numbers when adding blinkers, and it’s a positive sign to see Manny Franco stay here rather than hop aboard Business Cycle.
Nicodemus (#8) is an intriguing new face as he makes his first start since the Curlin Stakes last year. He was no match for Hofburg that day, but he stayed on gamely to be second in the slop while achieving a field-best 118 TimeformUS Speed Figure. He appears to be working well for his return, but Linda Rice does not have very strong numbers in this situation.
I’m using all of these runners in some capacity, but my top pick is STORM PROPHET (#1). He’s likely to race as a solo betting interest since entrymate Blewitt is almost certain to scratch following his win last Sunday. That should drive up Storm Prophet’s price since he appeared to be the lesser half of the entry. He lost to today’s rival Gio d’Oro when they met last time out on Jan. 4, but Storm Prophet had the much tougher trip that day, racing wide around both turns. According to Trakus, he covered 56 more feet than Gio d’Oro, more than the margin of defeat. I like this turnback to a one-turn race for Storm Prophet, and Rudy Rodriguez has does extremely well in this situation. Over the past five years, he is 28 for 62 (45 percent, $2.80 ROI) first off the claim in dirt routes at Aqueduct.
Exacta Key Box: 1 with 4,5,8,11
Trifecta: 1 with 4,8 with 3,4,5,6,8,11