Following the scratch of Malibu Action, Happy Farm (#3) figures to be a solid favorite in this third race as he makes his first start off the claim for Jeremiah Englehart. It’s not as if this horse needs to improve at all off the barn change, as he has run well in all of his recent races. The only knock against his recent form is that he has been short prices on a number of occasions and has failed to find his way into the winner’s circle. I think it’s somewhat curious that Englehart is not moving this horse up in class at all despite his solid form, and I believe it’s worth keeping in mind that he does not have the strongest numbers in this situation. Over the past five years, he is just 5 for 49 (10%, $1.14 ROI) first off the claim on dirt at Aqueduct. (Alternately, he’s 11 for 43 at the other two NYRA tracks.)
I’m using him, but my top pick is ARISTOCRATIC (#5). This horse ran deceptively well in his first start for the Chris Englehart barn last time out. He had run some fast races earlier in 2018 for the Victor Garcia barn, but he seemed to go off form for Peter Miller. His final race in December hinted that he was heading back in the right direction and I thought he took a gigantic step forward in his most recent start at Aqueduct. He was facing a tougher group of horses and carved out some insane early fractions over a dead racetrack. His TimeformUS pace rating of 155 at the quarter is gigantic for a six-furlong race, so it’s no surprise that his TimeformUS Speed Figure was elevated to a 118 off a raw final time number of 101. It’s somewhat curious that he’s dropping down in class off such a performance, but a repeat of that effort makes him a serious rival for the favorites.
Exacta Key Box: 5 with 3,6
Trifecta: 5 with 3 with ALL