Friday TimeformUS Highlight Horse: Steadily improving Lucky Girl more reliable than rivals

Aqueduct | Race 6 | Post Time 3:55 p.m. (ET) | Go to the TimeformUS PPs 
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La Kara Mia (#6), the first foal out of champion sprinter La Verdad, still has a long way to go to live up to the expectations set by her dam. She was curiously spotted on turf first time out given her dirt-oriented pedigree. She showed little talent that day, but she predictably woke up in her second start on dirt, as many Linda Rice trainees do. She was hardly disgraced losing to Sharp Starr that day, as that Grade 3-winning filly has since improved by leaps and bounds. She returns from a lengthy layoff here, and Linda Rice is a strong 11 for 31 (35%, $2.29 ROI) with maidens returning from layoffs of 180 days or more on dirt over 5 years. She’s one of many potentially live runners for this barn on the Friday card, but I’m reticent to take a short price on her under these circumstances.

Bank Sting (#1) debuted in a $500k stakes as a juvenile in late 2019, and hasn’t been seen again until now, just past her 4-year-old birthday. While a fourth-place finish in that ambitious debut race may sound impressive, the quality of that field was out of step with the purse, as four of those who finished behind her were also maidens. That said, she stayed on well going 7 furlongs after a wide trip in an encouraging start to her career. She returns at that distance for John Terranova, who is a solid 6 for 21 (29%, $2.71 ROI) off layoffs of 180 days or more on dirt over 5 years. I’m using both of these, but my top pick is a filly who I perceive to be a more reliable option.

LUCKY GIRL (#5) was one of the few Bond runners that wasn’t ready to fire her best shot during the Saratoga meet last year. Yet she returned a few months later at Belmont with an improved effort, getting up for second at this level, albeit well behind the heavily favored winner Wasp. While she earned that career-best placing in the slop, she validated the performance on fast going last time, improving her speed figure despite facing open company. She also didn’t get the most comfortable trip that day, as she was shuffled back behind a tiring rival at the quarter pole. She has a right to continue progressing and wouldn’t need to improve much to beat this crew.

THE PLAY

Win: 5

Exacta Key Box: 5 with 1,2,6

Trifecta: 5 with 1,6 with 1,2,6

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