Aqueduct Horses in Focus for Saturday, December 7

RACE 8: DAPHNE MOON (#10)

Maedean is simply the horse to beat off her last two efforts. She got a great trip to break her maiden two back and then improved on that effort when taking down the Grade 3 Tempted last time. In both of starts, she earned TimeformUS Speed Figures that are among the highest in this field. The stretch-out to 1 1/8 miles is not supposed to be an issue given her pedigree, and she’s drawn a great post position. As long as she continues to move forward, she’s going to be a handful. Her main rival Alandra won what appeared to be a live maiden race at Saratoga in her debut. It’s always significant when Shug McGaughey runners win first time out, as they tend to go on to do nice things from there. She completely altered her running style in the Alcibiades and that may have worked against her. She probably can do better than that, but she’s going to take plenty of money even though she hasn’t yet run as fast as some of her main rivals. Lake Avenue earned the highest TimeformUS Speed Figure in this field when walloping a small group of maidens by over 12 lengths last time. Now she stretches out for the first time, and she’s bred to handle added ground. However, she had no luck with the post position draw. My top pick is Daphne Moon, who also drew a wide post, but figures to take back from there. She overcame a poor start to circle the field and win going away over a demanding 7 furlongs in her Saratoga debut. She was understandably was bet down to 3-1 odds in the Grade 1 Frizette subsequently, but another poor break compromised her chances in a race dominated on the front end. That performance isn’t nearly as bad as it seems, and she feels like one who should continue improving with added ground. The Pace Projector is predicting she’ll get a fast pace to close into.

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RACE 9: PRINCE JAMES (#7)

Likely favorite Forza di Oro is yet to run as fast as some others in here, but the potential is certainly there. He ran much better than his 88 TimeformUS Speed Figure would indicate in his debut, as he completely blew the start, leaving the gate 3 to 4 lengths behind the others. He showed real talent to run so well thereafter, and followed that up with a facile maiden score, despite the relatively slight margin of victory, never fully set down in the lane. He is by Speightstown, but there’s plenty of stamina on the dam’s side of this pedigree, and he acts like one that should get the 1 1/8 miles. Pletcher has a pair contenders in here, and the one that I prefer is Alpha Sixty Six. His debut was better than the speed figures would indicate, as he made up ground into a relatively slow pace and did so while racing wide against a rail bias. He was thrown into a tough spot in the Champagne next time out and he did some himself no favors by blowing the start. All things considered, he did well to only miss second place by 3/4-length that day. I’m using both, but I think we can get a bit more creative in this wide open affair. I prefer Prince James at a big price. His last race is quite slow from a speed figure standpoint, but he ran a bit better than it looks. The eventual winner got loose on the front end through slow-to-moderate fractions and this guy was the only horse making up significant ground at the end. He ran well in his debut at Monmouth, earning a number that puts him in the mix, and he’s bred to appreciate added ground as a son of Tiznow out of a half-sister to Grade 1 CCA Oaks runner-up Don’t Forget Gil. There isn’t much pace in this race, and he can be forwardly placed with the addition of blinkers.

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RACE 10: MAXIMUM SECURITY (#5)

I’m not going to overcomplicate this Cigar Mile. The two main players are obviously Maximum Security and Spun to Run, and I prefer the former. Maximum Security is such a versatile horse, one that is as effective sprinting as he is going 1 1/4 miles. He doesn’t need to carry his racetrack around with him, winning on a variety of surfaces, and he’s shown the ability to adapt to a wide array of pace scenarios. The Pace Projector is predicting that he can get in front of Spun to Run early, and I think that’s going to make him awfully difficult to run down. As long as Maximum Security merely holds his form, I believe he’ll win, and there’s a strong chance that he could actually step forward considering that he’s making his second start off a 3-month layoff. Spun to Run will attract support on the basis of his two recent flashy speed figures, and those numbers are totally legitimate. However, he had a lot working in his favor in both of those starts. He was allowed to set a slow pace at Parx two back en route to that dominant score, and then last time he made the lead through fairly moderate fractions in a race where the expected pace competition never materialized. Getting out in front of the kickback was important during that week at Santa Anita, so he had all the best of it. I think he faces a more difficult task having to chase down Maximum Security this time.

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