Aqueduct Horses in Focus for Sunday, January 17

RACE 3: MAKE IT IN NY (#6)

There are four major players in this race, the most accomplished of which is Prospect Mountain. This chestnut colt made quite a splash in his debut, rallying from last to win at 62-1. While that seemed like a fluky result at the time, horse after horse has run back out of that race to improve its speed figure, and Prospect Mountain fits that pattern. He improved significantly when closing well to be fifth in a stakes in his second start, and then validated that form when getting up for second at this level last time. I respect his form, but I am a little concerned about the stretch-out in distance. This closing sprinter may need some pace ahead of him, and I’m not sure he’s going to get it here. The renamed Respect for All could play out as the pacesetter after winning here for a cheaper $25,000 tag 9 days ago. He was beating a very weak field that day and gets tested for class this time, but Rob Atras has great statistics off the claim. I prefer the runners drawn to the outside. Bourbonic earned a strong 89 TimeformUS Speed Figure when breaking his maiden by nearly 5 lengths last time out. That was his first start with blinkers and dropping in for a tag, and the class relief seemed to wake him up. This colt still has upside for Todd Pletcher and figures to work out another good trip stalking outside. Yet my top pick is Make It in Ny. He’s stepping up in class after beating weaker New York-bred claimers last time out, but I thought he ran very well to get the victory that day. He was in an uncomfortable position for much of the race, getting shuffled back at multiple points on the far turn and into the stretch before diving down to the rail for the final eighth of a mile. I loved the way finished off that race and believe we haven’t yet seen the best of him.

RACE 4: LOTTIE’S MIZZION (#6)

Nicky Scissors and Lottie’s Mizzion figure to vie for favoritism in his cheap conditioned claiming field. Some may prefer the former’s tactical speed as she stretches back out in distance for trainer Rob Atras. While she was no match for an improved La Negrita last time, she did stay on decently for second in a race that came up reasonably fast for this level. However, I’m not convinced that she gets better with added ground. She disappointed going this distance at Finger Lakes two back, and all of her prior form would suggest that shorter is better. I strongly prefer Lottie’s Mizzion, who is my top pick. This filly had some trips early in her career, some of it being her own doing. Yet she was unwisely rated in a couple starts coming off the layoff during the summer before finally getting the right trip on Sep. 18. She won impressively that day in a race that has come back fairly strong. They tried a very tough spot off that victory last time and it’s no surprise that she couldn’t make a dent behind stakes winner Sharp Starr. I don’t mind her going a mile, and I wouldn’t be too bothered by the drop in class. This is just the right spot for a horse who had been doing well going back to last fall. Behind her I would use Choose Happiness as an alternative to Nicky Scissors. This filly’s lack of speed could be a slight disadvantage in here, but she really seemed to improve with added ground last time and would be a threat if merely repeating that effort.

RACE 8: MISS MARISSA (#4)

Given the expected scratch of Bridlewood Cat, the complexion of this race changes a bit. The TimeformUS Pace Projector was already predicting a scenario favoring horses on or near the lead, and now that figures to give a distinct advantage to Miss Marissa. This filly is coming off a disappointing effort in the Comely, but she didn’t get the most clever ride that day. She had done her best work when ridden aggressively in recent starts, yet she was rated from the start last time despite the fact that the pace was moderate. November 27 was a day when you wanted to be forwardly placed, as horses appeared to be hindered by kickback. That certainly seemed to affect Miss Marissa, who never looked comfortable behind horses and backed up. If she gets back to either of her prior two victories she’s going to be tough for this field to handle. Plus, she might not even be favored due to that poor result last time. Thankful finished ahead of Miss Marissa in the Comely, but she had a smoother journey. She’s obviously improved in recent starts and merits a chance here, but I just preferred others at better prices. I would also include Smooth with a Kick and Lucky Move. The former has been a bit of a disappointing, failing a few times in stakes company prior to this. However, she handles the distance and does own speed figures that give her a chance. Lucky Move is perhaps the most reliable runner in this field, as she relishes the 9-furlong distance, and has proven that she can be competitive in races like this, having finishing second in the Ladies last year. I’m just a little concerned that the pace might not set up for this closer.

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