Saturday TimeformUS Highlight Horse: American Anthem can turn back the clock in the Toboggan

Aqueduct | Race 8 | Post Time 3:55 p.m. (ET) | Go to the TimeformUS PPs 
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The classy Mind Control (#8) was a Grade 1 winner at ages 2 and 3 and he seeks to regain his position at the top of the sprint division as he returns in this Grade 3 Toboggan. He has the speed figures to back up that impressive résumé, earning a 116 TimeformUS Speed Figures in winning the H. Allen Jerkens and a 122 when taking down the Bay Shore over this course and distance last April. He got a planned layoff following his Grade 1 triumph last summer, and he has apparently been training well for his return. The outside draw should suit him and his tactical speed should play very well in his largely paceless affair. He’s the horse to beat, but I’m always reticent to accept a short price on runners returning from layoffs like this, especially for a barn that hasn’t had much success with this move.

American-Anthem

His main rival is clearly AMERICAN ANTHEM (#2). It’s been a bumpy road for this horse since his successful 3-year-old season, which saw him win the Grade 2 Woody Stephens and place in a pair of Grade 1 events. He achieved modest success during an abbreviated 4-year-old campaign, but it’s been difficult for him to get back to that level since. Yet now makes his second consecutive start for a new trainer, this time going out for Danny Gargan. He disappointed when last seen at Keeneland, but he didn’t get an ideal trip that day, as he was shuffled back early and forced down inside for the stretch drive, which probably wasn’t the place to be. The Pace Projector is predicting a situation favoring horses on or near the lead and he has the tactical speed to be in front of these early. I’m inclined to take an optimistic view despite some lingering questions about his form.

I would also include runners like Sunny Ridge (#1), Nicodemus (#4), and T Loves a Fight (#5), but all may be compromised by a lack of pace in this race. Of those, Nicodemus is the one who scares me most since his best efforts clearly make him good enough to beat this field and Linda Rice isn’t usually this aggressive off a layoff.

THE PLAY

Win: 2
Exacta Key Box: 2 with 1,4,5,8
Trifecta: 2 with 4,8 with 1,4,5,7,8

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