Aqueduct Horses in Focus for Friday, February 14

RACE 4: BLACK KETTLE (#2)

Figure It Out will probably win this race if she merely maintains her current form. However, the only reason that she’s likely to go to post as an odds-on favorite in this N1X allowance is due to a lack of serious competition. She’s not your typical prohibitive favorite in these types of races and was overmatched in similar spots not that long ago. While she was visually impressive winning two back, she regressed off that effort in her first start off the claim for Michelle Nevin, as the previously vanquished Jennemily turned the tables on her. Figure It Out appeared to have the victory all sewn up coming to the eighth pole, but she got leg weary in the last sixteenth, allowing the winner to pass her. Perhaps a repeat of that performance will be good enough, but there is at least one new face in this bunch that intrigues me as an alternative. Black Kettle did not run particularly fast when she broke her maiden in her career debut at Laurel last time. That 75 TimeformUS Speed Figure will not get it done against a field of this caliber. However, that performance may have been stronger than it appears. The three runners who finished directly behind her that day have all returned to win and the four horses to run back out of that race all improved their TimeformUS Speed Figures in their subsequent starts by anywhere from 8 to 33 points. Black Kettle wasn’t capable of achieving a fast final time that day due to a pedestrian early tempo over a rain-soaked surface that was slow and tiring. She nevertheless finished with good energy and she figures to only do better with added ground. She’s by route influence Take Charge Indy out of a Dunkirk mare who is a half-sister to Indiana Derby winner Star Dabbler.

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RACE 6: KEEP YOUR DISTANCE (#6)

Stay Fond figures to attract some support in this spot given that she’s coming off two consecutive victories in which she earned speed figures that are faster than those of her rivals. However, both of those wins were earned going a mile for prior trainer Linda Rice. Jeffrey Englehart wins at a decent percentage off the claim, but his ROI is quite low and the choice to turn this mare back to a sprint distance seems questionable. She’s never been one to show much speed and often requires plenty of encouragement to even stay engaged in races going route distances. If she’s among the favorites, I would look elsewhere. I strongly prefer main rival Keep Your Distance. Some may be deterred by this mare’s poor effort against $25,000 claimers first off the claim for Gary Gullo last time. Yet she actually ran fairly well within the context of that event, as she rushed up to challenge the speedy Malibu Mischief for the lead down the backstretch. She then put that rival away and only succumbed to late runs by closers in a race that fell apart in deep stretch. The winner got a surprisingly high speed figure, but she came back to validate by beating N1X allowance company in her subsequent start. Prior to that, Keep Your Distance had easily handled cheaper claimers and now she’s back in the right kind of spot here. Furthermore, Gary Gullo is 9 for 30 (30%, $2.07 ROI) with horses dropping in claiming price by 50% or more over the past 5 years. Her rider was very aggressive last time, but this mare showed in prior starts that she’s just as comfortable rallying from off the pace.

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RACE 7: AM IMPAZIBLE (#7)

Lucky Move will win this race if she repeats her recent efforts at Aqueduct, both of which came against stakes company. She was unlucky to lose a very close decision two back in the Bay Ridge when she wound up on the wrong side of a head bob. Then last time she closed gamely after winner Bellera in the open company Ladies Handicap. Based on those efforts, she has a pretty significant class edge on this field. The problem is that both of those performances came around two turns at the 1 1/8 miles distance, and she clearly relishes that added ground. The turnback to a one-turn mile may negatively affect her, and I think that opens this race up to some seemingly slower contenders. The Pace Projector is predicting that Cartwheel should be up front in the early going in a situation favoring the leader. Unlike the favorite, Cartwheel wants no part of two turns, so she should appreciate the cutback in distance here. She’s been successful going this one-turn distance in the past and all of her efforts immediately prior to that Bay Ridge debacle make her pretty formidable. I’m using her prominently, but I’m interested in a filly stepping up in class. Am Impazible is seeking her third consecutive victory here and I believe she can continue her streak despite the rise in class. She ran her first two races like she needed more ground and that was confirmed last time when she steadily drew away from a solid N1X allowance field going a mile. Left in her wake that day was today’s rival The Great Johanna, who had been dominating her competition in her surrounding starts. Am Impazible does have to get a little faster to beat this group, but she’s one of the few in this lineup who still has upside and she figures to work out a good stalking trip.

 

 

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