Aqueduct Horses in Focus for Thursday, January 9

RACE 3: MOON HEIST (#2)

The two favorites in this race appear to be standing on shaky ground. Bustin Scones owns the best overall form, having raced competitively at the tougher New York-bred N1X level last year before going off form in her most recent start. Bet down to 7-2 odds last time, she surprisingly ran out of gas by the time the field hit the quarter pole. Perhaps the longer 7-furlong distance got to her, but that doesn’t totally explain the massive drop-off in her speed figures. Shesasuperfreak comes off a much better effort at this level last time, but it’s hard to have any confidence that she can repeat it. She was sent off at 47-1 last time for a reason, as her four prior races had resulted in losses by large margins, with her often getting eased across the wire. That said, it’s not as if her good effort last time came out of nowhere, as she had previously earned competitive speed figures on a couple of occasions. Perhaps her connections finally have her heading in the right direction, but I don’t want to accept a short price to find out. I instead want to take a different rival out of that Dec. 13 affair. Moon Heist was outrun to the early lead and forced to drop back on the turn when Shesasuperfreak moved up outside, essentially pinning her in. That wasn’t the right trip for a filly who had broken her maiden by leading all the way. Yet, despite getting put into that awkward position on the turn, she never quit running through the stretch, staying on well to be sixth. I take it to be a positive sign that she showed such late interest after fading in her prior starts. Perhaps she’s found a home at this class level and I think she can work out her preferred trip here with less speed signed on.

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RACE 5: TRAVELING (#1)

Super Silver has to be considered the horse to beat due to his overall consistency at this level. He’s making his sixth consecutive start for this $50,000 starter allowance condition and he’s already finished second three times prior to this. That was also the case last time when he had to settle for the runner-up position as the 6-5 favorite in the slop, but a repeat of that performance would make him difficult for this field to beat. He has to stretch out to 1 1/8 miles this time, but he broke his maiden over this distance so it shouldn’t be a problem. I’m using him prominently, but I prefer the runner who finished directly behind him last time. Traveling was an intriguing contender for Rudy Rodriguez in that Dec. 14 race since his form for prior trainer Cherie Devaux had been fairly inconsistent. While he may not have run his best race ever first off the trainer switch, I thought there were some things to like about the performance. He showed that he can be effective rating off the pace, something he hadn’t done well before, and he was closing well in the final furlong over a track that was favoring speed for most of the day. He strikes me as one that shouldn’t have a major issue with the stretch-out to 9 furlongs, and he drew a great inside post position for this distance. I wouldn’t be surprised if Reylu Gutierrez takes advantage of the rail draw and just sends him to the lead. Others to consider include Spectactor Sport, who would be a factor if he continues progressing for Linda Rice, and Danny California, who is due for some luck.

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RACE 6: SPEIGHTFUL KITTEN (#2)        

The entry of Dark Money and Thesis is going to attract the bulk of tote support in this race, but I think it’s worth taking a deeper look at each of these horses to determine if they’re actually deserving of such strong favoritism. The stronger half of the entry appears to be Dark Money. The simple way to view him is to just throw out his last race due to the sloppy track and evaluate him on his prior form, as he won three of four starts through the summer and fall. However, he didn’t really improve much off the claim for Rudy Rodriguez and he benefited from slow paces while meeting fairly weak fields on a number of occasions. He probably is the horse to beat, but this is a tougher group of rivals than he’s encountered in any of his prior victories. Many may view Thesis as a solid backup option, but he’s lost four consecutive races by small margins, only getting elevated to victory to graduate from his N1X condition by disqualification last time. Furthermore, his speed figures have also stagnated despite getting claimed by Jason Servis. I’ll use this pair prominently, but want to try to beat them on the win end. The best alternative that I can find is Speightful Kitten. I acknowledge that this 6-year-old isn’t exactly a winning type, having not visited the winner’s circle since Sep. 29, 2017. However, he’s run very well at this level for the better part of two seasons. While his first effort since the trainer switch to H. James Bond was disappointing, he got back on track last time with this typical performance. It was no disgrace losing to the in-form Playthatfunnymusic and he drew well clear of the rest to be second. There isn’t a ton of pace in this race, so Julio Correa should be able to use his tactical speed from this rail draw to get a good position.

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