Likely favorite Felix in Fabula (#1) is going to be pretty tough to deny if he merely holds his form. He has earned TimeformUS Speed Figures between 101 and 108 in 10 consecutive races, a testament to his consistency in a race where some of his chief rivals lack anything of the sort. He returned from a four-month layoff last time and picked up right where he left off in the summer and he’s simply the horse to beat.
One of his main rivals appears to be Supreme Aura (#4). Unlike the favorite, consistency has been a major issue for this 4-year-old, but he’s capable of competing on terms with any of these when he’s at his best. The switch to Rudy Rodriguez is noteworthy, since this barn is 30 for 71 (42%, $2.67 ROI) first off the claim in dirt routes at Aqueduct over 5 years. On the other hand, it’s been a while since this horse has won and 1 1/8 miles may not be his best distance.
My top pick is the up-and-comer HARPERS FIRST RIDE (#2). This 3-year-old is the “now” horse in this field as he seeks his fourth consecutive victory. He was a surprise maiden winner at Churchill Downs back in September, but he’s stepped forward in his two subsequent starts against winners. This gelding doesn’t have much of a turn of foot, but he’s a grinder who should appreciate the slight stretch-out to 9 furlongs. He gets tested for class here after beating weaker foes at Laurel, but the 109 TimeformUS Speed Figure he earned two back puts him squarely in the mix and that number is validated by the talented runner-up. This barn has shown the ability to win on the NYRA circuit and I think he can stage a minor upset.
Exacta Key Box: 2 with 1,3,4
Trifecta: 2 with 1,4 with 1,3,4,6