RACE 3: ROAMING UNION (#3)
Roaming Union is one of those top selections that I landed on via a process of elimination rather than any particular enthusiasm for the horse. There are just so many horses in this field that I find difficult to take, either due to an expected lack of value or poor recent form. The two runners who may attract the most tote support are Legit and Someday Jones, both of whom are coming off poor efforts in their most recent starts. Legit would be pretty tough for this field to handle if able to run back to his 9-furlong performance at Saratoga two back, but his overall form is inconsistent and it seems like he’s heading in the wrong direction. Someday Jones has run multiple prior speed figures that would make him formidable against a field like this. However, he didn’t have an obvious excuse for his poor effort last time and now this 7-year-old is being offered up for a tag for the first time in his career. I still prefer that pair to the horses moving up in class. Malibu Pro and Control Group completed a chalky exacta the last time they ran for $32,000, but this is a significantly tougher spot for both of them. I’m left with limited alternatives beyond the favorites, which leads me to Roaming Union. He has his own set of questions to answer as he returns from a 9-month layoff. However, his form prior to the break was solid enough. He was having trouble making an impact against tougher company and was probably in need of this drop in class before he was put on the shelf. Nevertheless, he’s earned plenty of speed figures that would make him competitive and he has the tactical speed to work out the right trip in what could be a paceless race. Furthermore, two of his four career victories have come going 1 1/8 miles at Aqueduct.
RACE 6: TROUBLESHOOTER (#12)
Cold Hard Cash is a deserving favorite as he attempts to break through this N1X condition for the second time after just missing in a game effort at Belmont. It appeared that this son of Maclean’s Music had been overwhelmed by the far turn move of Six Percent when they reached the quarter pole of that race, but this gelding fought on bravely to the wire, falling just a head short. He earned a massive 114 TimeformUS Speed Figure for the performance, and that number was validated when Six Percent returned to earn figures of 109 and 113 in his subsequent starts. This Linda Rice trainee is facing a large field of 13 rivals here so he will need to work out a trip at a short price, but he is undeniably the one to beat. One of his main rivals is Jerry the Nipper, who lost as the favorite when he returned from an 8-month layoff at Belmont last time, leading through the opening furlongs before fading in the stretch. He’ll probably be suited by this stretch-out to a mile given that he broke his maiden going this distance last winter. However, he will need to get faster if he’s to upset the favorite. I’d rather take a different horse out of that Oct. 31 race at what figures to be a much more generous price. Troubleshooter finished fifth that day, beaten just 2 lengths by the winner, and finishing only a neck behind Jerry the Nipper. This son of Into Mischief is a large, rangy horse who apparently take a while to get his feet under him. That was apparent last time when he was hard-ridden through the early part of the race before dropping back to last, simply getting outrun over that sprint distance. However, he found his best stride very late and was finishing powerfully across the wire. He strikes me as one that will appreciate added ground, and I think he’s ready for another step forward as he adds blinkers. Jeremiah Englehart is 5 for 17 (29%, $2.78 ROI) with blinker additions as horses stretch out from sprint to dirt routes.
RACE 8: ASTORIA KITTEN (#3)
Fresco may finally break through this level by sheer attrition, as she seems to have found a favorable field this time. While I’m getting a little tire of her losing at short prices, I do acknowledge that she ran quite well within the context of her last race. The pace was fast and contested, and she made an early move to take the lead at midstretch before getting run down from behind by a filly who closed from last. With a slightly better-timed ride, she might have won that day, so she figures to benefit from this jockey switch to Joel Rosario. The only negative is that her price will likely be even shorter now that she has both Clement and Rosario in her corner. I prefer her to the other horses exiting that Nov. 8 affair. Summer At the Spa couldn’t beat her last time so I can’t see her turning the tables here. Perhaps Canarsie Angel is worth another shot after setting that fast pace last time, but she gets tested for class and won’t be much of a price as part of a couple entry. I think the best alternative to Fresco may be one of the wild cards. Astoria Kitten may just be off form at this point, as her last couple of efforts have been poor. And even when she was at the top of her game earlier this summer she still had trouble breaking through this level. However, she’s a horse that I’ve always wanted to see turned back in distance. She just doesn’t strike me as a true router, as she always quits in the last furlong of her races. Her dam has primarily produced one-turn horses, including talented sprinters Rectify and Satisfy. Furthemore, the often streaky Danny Gargan barn, which had been somewhat quiet through the fall, has been winning more races lately, going 7 for 15 over the past three weeks.