Aqueduct Horses in Focus for Thursday, February 20


It’s pretty clear that the two competitors who are coming off the best efforts are likely favorites Royal Albert Hall and Siding Spring. However, there are issues with each of these contenders. Royal Albert Hall has the stronger dirt résumé, but he’s not a winning type, having visited the winner’s circle just 3 times in his 46 career starts. Furthermore, his form had badly tailed off last year and he’s been off for another three months after his last start. Siding Spring is seemingly in better form, but the majority of his better races have come on the turf. He did make the transition back to dirt last time, but I’m a little skeptical of that effort. Winner Its All Relevant is not the horse that he once was, and came back to run poorly next time. Furthermore, Siding Spring now has to deal with plenty of other speed, as Outplay and Majid also do their best work on the front end. The Pace Projector is predicting a fast pace and even that doesn’t develop the early tempo is likely to be honest. I think that could set things up for the closer Street Trust. He also has some questions to answer about his current form, but at least you can make excuses for some of his recent starts. He was too far back over a dead strip at Parx two back and then last time he was badly compromised by a slow pace in a race where the pace held together. Dave Cannizzo doesn’t have very good statistics off the claim but the barn has been having a strong meet and this horse should get the right setup this time.



I’m not saying anything too clever in pointing out that Dancers for Token is the horse to beat, and it’s not even close. His recent form is just vastly superior to all of his rivals. He ran a winning race two back on December 20 when he made a premature move into contention and was just unlucky to run into a superior rival in Freaky Styley. Then last time his connections ambitiously stepped him up into an open maiden special weight event and he was hardly disgraced in hanging on for fourth. Now he’s getting a significant rider switch to Trevor McCarthy and he should be very difficult to beat if he merely holds his form. That said, it’s still hard to accept a short price on a horse going out for a barn that was 1 for 43 last year. I’m just not particularly fond of the others who are likely to take money here. Clever Fellow will attract support due to the Chad Brown factor even though he didn’t do any serious running in his debut. Kingfish has had his chances for Linda Rice and just hasn’t really stepped forward. I’d rather get a bit more creative in searching for an alternative and take a different horse out of that Dec. 20 affair that a few of these exit. Moonlight Now didn’t get the right trip that day, as he failed to make the lead after a hustling start and then got caught in behind a fading longshot on the far turn. He lost all of his momentum and actually did well to rally again for fourth late. This is a horse who has always been cut out to be a dirt router and it’s just taken the connections a while to stretch him out. This time he figures to be the frontrunner in a paceless affair, which should give him his best chance yet to have his breakout moment.



You can definitely poke some holes in the likely favorites here. Justice of War will attract support as he makes his second start off the layoff for Linda Rice. He won his first start back while racing in a $20,000 maiden claimer with the tag waived, so Rice is showing some further confidence by moving him up in class. However, he didn’t break any stopwatches last time and he wasn’t beating the strongest field. I believe he’s going to have to step forward to beat this group and I’m unwilling to accept a short price while finding out if he can. Charge Ahead should vie for favoritism, but it’s still unclear if he has any dirt ability. He was placed very ambitiously last time against some tougher allowance rivals, and he did flash speed before fading and steadying out at the quarter pole. His prior efforts all came over synthetic and there are definitely turf influences in his pedigree, so this might not be his preferred surface. I prefer others. Cause of Action seems like a perfectly viable option after hanging on gamely to be fourth against a tougher field at Parx last time. That was his first start for the Chris Englehart barn and it seems like he’s one who really improved getting on dirt for the first time. A similar effort should put him right there at the finish. My top pick is Impunity, who is now claimed back by Drawing Away Stable and Orlando Noda. This gelding’s prior two starts for these connections were superior to anything else he’s done. While he has handled wet going in the past, he just didn’t get over the surface last time in a race dominated by the speeds. Now he should get a bit more pace to close into and I like the confidence being displayed as they move him up in class.

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