Aqueduct Horses in Focus for Friday, April 9

RACE 3: GIRAMONTE (#4)

It’s hard to know where the public is going to land in this perplexing maiden claiming event. Me ‘n Sap should take some money given the presence of Jose Ortiz on board. However, I’m dubious about his chances switching to turf. While his dam won on synthetic and she’s by Artie Schiller, this isn’t a big turf pedigree overall. Sire Bourbon Courage has had just a couple of winners as a turf sire. I’ll use him defensively, but others appeal more. The one with the best overall turf form is probably Justintimeforwine. He ran some strong races against maiden special weigh company as a younger horse. He’s certainly tailed off since then, but he was still good enough to set some quick paces on the turf last year. Now he’s turning back to a sprint, which could be right up his alley considering his natural speed. Mike Luzzi just has to work out a trip because he can be a bit of a run-off at times. I’m most interested in new faces. I could consider the first time starter Jack’s Dream, who does have some turf pedigree on the dam’s side. However, George Weaver has uninspiring statistics in this situation. I’m instead going to a different first time turfer. Giramonte gets on this surface for the first time after three starts on dirt. The most recent of those was a step in the right direction, as he stayed on well after a wide trip while racing over a track that was tilted towards inside runners. Yet now he gets on turf and he has some pedigree to handle it. His dam has thrown one turf sprint winner, and he’s sired by excellent 15% turf sprint sire Tizway. He wouldn’t need to be much to handle this group, and he figures to be a price.

RACE 6: SAVOY (#4)

Cousin Andrew’s three prior starts have all yielded the same result. He looked like he might be bound for a solid 3-year-old campaign following that encouraging debut here last winter. However, he didn’t really step forward in his subsequent start, and then the pandemic induced a layoff. He returned last summer with a solid performance in the mud, but was no match for Creed, who followed up that maiden score with an allowance win. This three-time runner-up now hasn’t been seen in 10 months, but he returns in a favorable spot. Chad Brown is 5 for 14 (36%, $2.12 ROI) with maidens returning from layoffs of 180 days or more in dirt routes over 5 years. He’s the horse to beat, but he doesn’t really scare me at a short price. His main rival based on prior form is Continuation. Yet this colt has also had his chances at this level. He never really ran back to that auspicious debut last winter, though he has picked up some minor awards since then. He ran particularly well last time when again checking in second at this level behind the improving Mystic Night. Now the connections add blinkers in hopes of pushing him over the edge. I’m using both of these runners, but I’m instead siding with upside. My top pick is the other Chad Brown runner Savoy. His debut last summer was encouraging, especially considering that he was participating in a pretty live Spa maiden event. Both Ten for Ten and Speaker’s Corner returned to win next time out, with the former subsequently finishing second in the Grade 2 Remsen later in the year. Savoy gave the impression that he was one who would stretch out, but he failed to handle the added distance over a sloppy track in October. Now he returns from a layoff as a new gelding. He’s certainly bred to love the distance, since his dam is a half-sister to Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks winner Secret Status and graded stakes-winning router Alumni Hall.

RACE 8: BOURBON RISING (#5)

On the Muscle owns the best last-out turf effort in this field but he’s hard to take at a short price in this race. He’s 0-for-12 now and 10 of those losses have come on turf. While he earned a competitive speed figure in his runner-up finish at Fair Grounds last time, that wasn’t the strongest field and he still couldn’t get the job done with a great trip. I’ll use him underneath, but others are more appealing win candidates. Among those with turf form, I’d be more interested in Matty’s Marauder. I’m not sure what happened to this gelding in his most recent turf effort in October, wich was poor. However, he ran well in his only other turf sprint last June at Belmont, and would be dangerous here if he could get back into that form. Yet there are a couple of first time turfers to consider. One of those is Sixteen Tons, who makes his turf debut for Linda Rice while returning from a 14-month layoff. This gelding showed promise early in his career and never really panned out. Bodemeister is a decent turf influence, and the dam has produced 3 turf winners, including a full-sibling to this runner. I’ll use him, but I’m a little more confident in Bourbon Rising handling the turf. This gelding has a very similar profile to Sixteen Tons, and actually debuted in the same race as that rival all the way back in September 2019. Bourbon Rising goes out for a barn that doesn’t have much success with first time turfers. However, he’s bred to handle this surface. He’s by strong turf influence Uncle Mo and his dam was a synthetic winner who also ran well on turf. I think this one has a right to handle it, and I like him turning back in distance.

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