Aqueduct Horses in Focus for Sunday, January 26

RACE 3: MALIBU ACTION (#5)

No one in this field is particularly trustworthy, so I would be reticent to accept a very short price on anyone. The likely favorite Stone Breaker is among the biggest question marks in this lineup, since he seemingly should be worth quite a bit more than $10,000 based on his form from last winter. Yet after reeling off three impressive victories as if he would be a serious factor in the Mike Lee, he disappeared and only resurfaced two months ago in a cheap allowance at Finger Lakes. The old version of Stone Breaker would have dominated such an affair, but he lost as the 1-5 favorite. Now new trainer Linda Rice is dropping him in for the $10,000 tag begging someone to take him. I’m even less interested in Blinded Vision, who popped a career-best speed figure when last seen almost a year ago, but benefited from a sloppy, speed-favoring track that day. His prior form isn’t nearly as encouraging. I want to look for some alternatives and the two best options appear to be Winning Drive and Malibu Action. Both are coming off dismal efforts, as the former was essentially eased last time on Cigar Mile day. However, he was badly overmatched that day and now is dropping back down to a realistic level. He’s shown the ability to close from just off the pace, which should benefit him in a field laden with speed. I’ll use him, but I’m giving the slight nod to Malibu Action. This horse was off slowly last time, which badly compromised his chances over a track that was favoring speed. That was his first start off a lengthy layoff and now he’s making his first start for Michelle Nevin. While this barn doesn’t have great numbers off the claim, the horse has back class and should be tough here if able to reclaim any semblance of his prior form.

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RACE 4: ORBILICIOUS (#2)

Princess in Charge figures to go off as the favorite for the powerful Rob Atras barn. She’s getting needed class relief after fading in her last two starts against tougher company. However, it’s not as if she was meeting the toughest field last time, and I would have liked to have seen her put up more of a fight against that group. Now she’s turning back to a sprint distance for the first time since her debut and she doesn’t strike me as the type of horse that is going to be particularly fond of less ground. I’m using her prominently, but she’s not the kind of horse that I’d want to bet at a short price. I’m trying to beat her with the returning Orbilicious. This filly showed some promise last winter, as she picked up minor checks in a couple of optional claiming races against superior rivals. She notably ran much better than it might appear two back on Mar. 29 when she was off a bit slowly and then unwisely rushed up to contest the lead by the time the field hit the half-mile pole. Unsurprisingly, she faded after making such an ill-advised premature move. A turf experiment didn’t work out and now she hasn’t been seen for a while. Yet David Donk has decent enough statistics off layoffs like this and I don’t think this filly is going to have much trouble turning back in distance since she won her second start over 5 1/2 furlongs.

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RACE 7: MISS MARISSA (#9)

There are many contenders to consider in this intriguing Ruthless Stakes, many of which are making their stakes debuts. One of those is the potential favorite Love of My Heart, who took to dirt with enthusiasm last time, earning an impressive 98 TimeformUS Speed Figure while turning back multiple challenges to win going away. She’s drawn the rail here, which could force Declan Carroll to use her early speed once again, and that might be a wise strategy. The Pace Projector is predicting a scenario favoring runners on or near the lead and she has the speed to be up close if they decide to use it. Cruise and Danze is predicted to be in front of this field early, and that could make her dangerous. She showed some promise when she broke her maiden at Laurel last November and was then compromised by chasing an extremely fast pace in the Smart Halo next time out. Her local debut in the slop was fairly encouraging, as she did well to rally up the rail after getting forced to rate down the backstretch. This time I would imagine that Eric Cancel will attempt to make better use of her early speed. Though the Pace Projector indicates that Miss Marissa should be breathing down her neck early and that could make this James Ryerson trainee a serious foe. They got ambitious and tried Miss Marissa in a pair of graded stakes in each of her last two starts. She just couldn’t run with some classier fillies in the Frizette two back and then her trip didn’t work out in the Demoiselle last time. She was shuffled back in the early going after Dylan Davis tried to hustle her out of the gate, and she just doesn’t want to go 1 1/8 miles anyway. She had previously been very effective going shorter early in her career, even finishing second to the eventual champion British Idiom in her third career start at Saratoga. The 7 furlongs figures to be perfect, and she should sit the right trip.

 

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