Aqueduct Horses in Focus for Saturday, February 27

RACE 2: ALPINE QUEEN (#5)

Odds-on morning line favorite One Glamorous Gal is pretty difficult to look past. Her debut was strong enough that she might have been among the favorites in a maiden special weight race had they stuck to that level. Yet she’s dropping down instead, which is a good move for Weaver (4-for-10, 40%, $2.40 ROI with MSW-to-MCL dirt sprinters second time out). This filly showed excellent early speed in her debut, but was hindered by a 2- to 3-wide trip against a rail bias. It does seem a little hasty of the connections to give away this $250k purchase for just $40k but this is probably where she’ll ultimately belong. I’m not against, but I don’t totally trust her at what figures to be a very short price. The problem is finding a viable alternative. I’m not particularly confident in the ability of fellow dropdowns Hollywood Gina and My Delicious. The former tries dirt for the first time after a lackluster debut on turf, though she does return with an improved series of workouts. I want to look in a different direction, and there’s a first time starter who intrigues me. Alpine Queen sold for $18k after working a furlong in 10 3/5 at the OBS Sale in March. This filly is by promising sire Reload, who has won with 5 of 17 (29%) debut starters so far in his first crop. The dam was a relatively cheap dirt sprinter and this is her first foal to compete. Her second dam Plata (16-7-2-0, $211k, 92 Beyer) was a solid dirt stakes winner. John Pregman is 0 for 5 with first time starters over the past 5 years, but two of those did hit the board at prices. This filly’s workouts look fairly solid for the level and she has a live rider named. One could do worse if looking for an interesting price in this field.

RACE 5: FORGOTTEN MISSION (#5)

There are many questions to be answered among those with experience in this race, starting with the two likely favorites. One Whirlwind Ride would be pretty difficult for this crew to beat if able to repeat the 93 TimeformUS Speed Figure he earned last time when just missing at this level. While it might seem like that race came out of nowhere, do note that he was on his way to victory two back when he veered in greenly and lost his rider in the stretch. He was obviously a good claim for these connections, but he’ll be a much shorter price this time. Big Brown Shoes was the beaten favorite in that Jan. 21 race that One Whirlwind Ride also exits. This Charlton Baker trainee didn’t appear to have much of an excuse that day, as he faded after battling with today’s foe. He did run much better on a muddy track in his debut, and the surface figures to be wet on Saturday, so perhaps he can bounce back. Though, I am starting to wonder if that Nov. 12 maiden event wasn’t as strong as it initially seemed. I’m going in a different direction with the remaining horse out of that Jan. 21 affair, Forgotten Mission. His running line looks uninspiring, but he had a more eventful trip than it seems. He was off just a step slowly, tried to rush up on the backstretch, but found himself behind a wall of horses, racing greenly while reacting badly to kickback. He didn’t make much headway in the stretch, but he nevertheless stayed on well in a race where the top two finishers got some separation from the rest. I think this full-brother to solid allowance filly Forgotten Hero will run better in his second start. I would also consider some firsters, depending on tote action. One particularly intriguing runner is Olympique, who is a half-brother to New York-bred stakes winner Aunt Babe.

RACE 7: SCHOKOLADE (#1)

The horse to beat is clearly the one horse with experience. Our Man Mike was thrown directly into stakes company at Finger Lakes following a decent Saratoga debut, and he acquitted himself well, picking up a pair of second-place finishes. He did get somewhat lucky to be second last time as the third-place finisher blew the start and might have won with a clean break. That said, he’s earned speed figures that make him the horse to beat. The only concern is the layoff in a race where a few firsters look like they could be live. The debut runner who looks most dangerous at first glance is Dr. Ardito. This $95k yearling purchase is by 9% debut sire Liam’s Map. The dam earned both of her victories in dirt sprints, and the only sibling to race is Navistar, best known for a runner-up finish to subsequent graded stakes winner Tenfold in a 3-year-old allowance. Chad Brown is 15-for-66 (23%, $1.57 ROI) with first time starters on dirt at Aqueduct over the past 5 years, suggesting that these horses get slightly overbet. He was working down at Palm Meadows into January before shipping to New York. That Feb. 13 drill was in company with older allowance type Golani Brigade, which is probably a good sign for this barn. I’m using him, but I prefer another Florida shipper. Schokolade is a $100k yearling purchase by 18% debut sire Bayern. The dam (30-6-5-7, $230k, 96 Beyer) was a stakes-winning sprinter who won on both dirt and turf. She’s produced a couple of stakes-placed runners, topped by Victory Is Sweet, runner-up in the 6F Chick Lang who also earned a 100 Beyer in his maiden win. Bill Mott is 12 for 50 (24%, $3.77 ROI) with 3-year-old and older first time starters in dirt sprints over the past 5 years. Some of the workouts down at Payson Park look solid.

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