RACE 5: QUIET TYPE (#4)
$230k yearling purchase Enter Sandwoman was readily dropped in for this $40k claiming tag following a lackluster debut at Laurel. While she improved her TimeformUS Speed Figure to a 78 last time (highest in this field), that’s a race that might be worth downgrading. The race came up suspiciously fast (not uncommon at Aqueduct in the winter), and one horse to run back regressed significantly in her subsequent start. That’s not to say that this filly isn’t still a player here. She has a right to appreciate added distance as a half-sister to stakes-winning dirt router Ava K. and other capable routers. Plus, Jeremiah O’Dwyer is a decent 4 for 21 (19%, $4.82 ROI) with horses stretching out for the first time on dirt over 5 years. Nevertheless, I prefer some proven routers at better prices. Stormi Cat Lady’s performance going this distance two back automatically makes her a top contender here. She did take advantage of a rail bias during the opening portions of that race before coming off the inside to rally in the lane. She just missed to next-out winner Teetolater, but that filly only ran a 67 TimeformUS Speed Figure in her victory. While she regressed last time behind runaway winner Coffee Bar, but that filly returned to finish second against open company in the Busanda. She’s a contender here, but I prefer a different rival out of that Jan. 10 affair. Quiet Type has made little impact in her first three starts, but those all came at the maiden special weight level. She didn’t get to put forth a true effort on Dec. 20 due to her wide trip over a rail-biased surface. She had a fair chance last time and could only manage a distant 4th, but she was tentatively ridden through the opening stages of that race, allowed to drop far out of contention before commencing a rally. And even so, she finished ahead of today’s rival Stormi Cat Lady. She has worked well since and is likely to appreciate the class relief.
RACE 6: WILD BANKER (#3)
Twelfth Labour’s last effort going this distance clearly makes him the horse to beat, especially considering that he was making his first start off the claim for Michelle Nevin. While that performance came at a lower class level, he was chasing home a horse, Heirloom Kitten, who had been competing in tougher N1X allowance races. He proved that he could handle the one-mile distance, though he did tire a bit late and I still maintain that he’s better sprinting. The further issue here is that he’s going to be a relatively short price, and he just so rarely wins. He hasn’t crossed the wire first since June 2019, and has lost 15 straight races since then. He picks up Carmouche and has the right running style for this race, but those factors are only going to drive down his price further. One of his main rivals appears to be Not That Brady. This once classy runner’s form had completely fallen apart in late 2019, and he struggled to get back into competitive shape for much of last year. Therefore, his last effort should be regarded as a positive sign. Competing at this level, he arguably ran the best race, setting a fast pace and turning back multiple challenges before just getting nailed late. While this field came up tougher, he encounters a softer pace scenario this time, and the stretch-out to a mile should help him. My top pick is Wild Banker. This 4-year-old’s form is somewhat obscured by a series of turf efforts last year. He handles that surface well enough, but there’s a reasonable argument that he’s a better dirt horse. He was unlucky two back on Dec. 12 when he got a brutal trip in the fog and otherwise might have won. He rebounded nicely last time with a strong performance, making an early move into a fast pace before holding off the perfect trip runner-up. That rival, Dust Devil, came back to win with an improved speed figure, as have the fourth- and fifth-place finishers from that heat. Don’t be too concerned with the trainer switch, as Summers has been handling the Mike Dini horses in New York. He’s hard to ignore in his current form and should be a square price again.
RACE 7: GLASS CEILING (#3)
Charlton Baker has entered a couple of grey mares in this allowance event, both of whom appear to be contenders. The speedy Awesome Debate will look to lead this field from gate to wire, as she did against New York-bred allowance foes last time. However, she was allowed to set a ridiculously slow pace last time, and now should face early pressure from She’s a Black Belt and Bay Jewel. I prefer her uncoupled stablemate Forever Changed, but I do think she’ll have to run a bit better than she did last time when just staying on mildly for second behind the solid but ordinary mare Jump for Joy. Furthermore, she was aided by a rail bias when she won on Dec. 19, so her form may not be quite as strong as it appears. I want to go in a different direction with Glass Ceiling, assuming all of these aforementioned runners are similar prices. I just think this filly is exiting stronger races at this level. She soundly defeated heavy favorite Center Aisle two back when just missing a close decision to Kansas Kis. Then last time she was no match for winner Letmetakethiscall, but that mare has ascended to the level of a stakes-caliber performer, since having won again. Glass Ceiling’s two most recent TimeformUS Speed Figures of 103 and 102 are higher than those of her main rivals and she has a versatile running style that should ensure she isn’t compromised by pace.