Aqueduct Horses in Focus for Sunday, March 21

RACE 1: LUCKY GIRL (#2)

Linda Rice holds a strong hand in this race with two contenders in his six-horse field. The well-bred La Kara Mia had a right to need a race coming off the 7-month layoff last time. She briefly made a bid at the quarter pole before flattening out, and should do better this time. If she can get back to the form that she displayed in her lone prior dirt start in July she’ll be tough for this field to handle. Despite being a daughter of champion sprinter La Verdad, this filly looks like one that wants to go longer, so the stretch-out to a mile should work to her benefit. Though I prefer Linda Rice’s other entrant. Voice of Spring showed so much promise in her career debut last June, making excellent late progress up the rail in the lane while facing a solid field of maiden special weight rivals. However, she disappointed in her subsequent summer start and never got involved in her return from a layoff in January. The obvious excuse for those last two efforts is the wet track, and she’s likely to get back on fast going on Sunday. Yet questions still remain, as Linda Rice did enter her for a $40k tag (and scratch) about a month ago. She’s bred to handle added ground, so the stretch-out may work for her. I’m using both of these, but my top pick is Lucky Girl. This filly didn’t get the best trip last time when just edged out by today’s rival Moon Sweeper for second. Lucky Girl was off a step slowly, got a little rank at the back of the pack, and made a 4-wide move on the far turn before flattening out. Runbacks from that Feb. 5 affair have suggested it was a stronger race than it first appeared to be. Prior to that, she was simply overmatched against open company two back, and run well going a route distance in October. She appears to be heading in the right direction, and just needs to work out a fair trip to succeed.

RACE 4: TAKE A CHANCE (#2)

Chad Brown has the two likely favorites in this maiden special weight event for 3-year-olds. Secret Potion is the most experienced member of this cast, but he’s been a bit of a disappointment. This $475k son of Into Mischief debuted on turf last summer and couldn’t quite get the job done despite getting bet down to 2-1 and working out a perfect trip. He didn’t make much of an impact in the Summer at Woodbine and then bombed in his 2020 finale at Belmont. Switched over to dirt in is 3-year-old debut, he rebounded with a better effort. Yet he really should have won what was a very weak race after setting a slow pace. Chad Brown is just 12 for 69 (17%, $1.23 ROI) with blinker additions on maidens over the past 5 years. I strongly prefer his uncoupled stablemate Take a Chance. This Ontario-bred first time starter is by 15% debut sire Munnings. He’s the first runner for his 0-for-5 dam, who is a half-sister to Grade 3-winning synthetic router Southdale. Chad Brown is sometimes overbet with first time starters in New York, but the presence of his stablemate could ensure that he goes off at a fair price. This colt appears to be working well. That Feb. 21 drill matches Dr. Ardito (second first time out with 65 Beyer) and on Feb. 28 he appeared to go in company with Crowded Trade, who just missed in the Grade 3 Gotham (95 Beyer) off that drill. He appears to be the most appealing first time starter. Other to consider include debut runners like Latin Casino and King James, the latter of which has the better pedigree for sprinting. I could also use the other runner with experience, Frosted Indian, underneath. This horse has serious gate issues, but he did show some signs of life setting a very fast pace last time before fading.

RACE 7: I’M FINE (#3)

I’m not trying to beat likely favorite I’m Fine, who may have just found the right field at this level after finishing second in her last couple of tries for this New York-bred N1X condition. This filly has blossomed since they have turned her back to one-turn on dirt and started riding her as a deep closer. Eric Cancel seems to have an excellent rapport with her, having given her perfect rides both two and three back. Last time she was just a little unlucky, as she was forced to make a wide rally from far back over a course that was favoring inside runners. Both the winner and today’s rival Ellarella spent a significant portion of their trips riding the rail, whereas I’m Fine was about 4-wide for the final three furlongs of that race. All things considered, she did well to get up for second. Now she finds herself in a spot where the TimeformUS Pace Projector is predicting a fast pace, so she should work out a decent trip as long as the track is playing fairly. Her main rival is Honey Money, but this daughter of Central Banker has some stamina questions to answer as she stretches out to a mile for the first time. Honey Money showed plenty of promise last winter when she won her second start by 6 lengths. She was a little slow to come around upon returning from a layoff for Linda Rice, but she ran well last time to be fourth after racing wide against a rail bias. My problem with Honey Money is that she’s a full-sister to Sassy Agnes, who was a fast sprinter that failed miserably in her only start at a mile. Furthermore, she’s been missing in action since she was a vet scratch on Dec. 31, and it’s not like Linda Rice to arbitrarily skip the winter at Aqueduct unless a horse had a setback.

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