Aqueduct Horses in Focus for Sunday, November 14


Abaan is clearly the horse to beat as he looks to improve on a narrow loss in his first attempt at this N1X condition last time. He was beaten by seasoned older rival Cold Hard Cash in that 12-furlong allowance race last time, but he was game to battle on for the entire stretch drive after cutting out the fractions. He did benefit from a dawdling early pace that day, but he may not have to work much harder to make the front here without any serious speed signed on. I’m not against him, but I do think he comes into this race a little overrated off some big speed figures earned under ideal circumstances. I’m not really a fan of Shady McGee, who couldn’t close ground on Abaan last time, and would prefer to look at other alternatives. Experienced certainly has upside in just his fourth career start. Jonathan Thomas threw him right into stakes company following his debut win at Delaware. While he hasn’t progressed much from a speed figure standpoint, he didn’t get the best trip last time in the Virginia Derby, going wide on the far turn. He certainly has upside and is bred to go this far. Yet I’m going in a different direction with my top pick. Jarreau has never run this far before, but stretching out seemingly inferior horses such as this is Mike Maker’s specialty. Jarreau showed that he had plenty of stamina when staying on for second going 1 1/4 miles on the dirt three back at Saratoga. He’s obviously a better turf horse, and he hasn’t had ideal trips in his last three starts on that surface. He encountered stretch traffic on July 1 and again on Aug. 29. And then last time he was forced to launch a 5-wide rally on the far turn before staying on well for second. I like the stretch-out and he has the tactical speed to get a good trip sitting in behind Abaan.


I suppose morning line favorite War Terminator is the one with the most upside in this competitive allowance race. That maiden race he won at Aqueduct back in April has turned out to be a pretty strong affair, as most have returned from it to improve their speed figures. This colt put in a game try behind Swashbuckle when last seen before going to the sidelines. The layoff isn’t much of a concern for this barn, since Jonathan Thomas is 5 for 11 (45%, $2.88 ROI) off 120 to 240 day layoffs in turf sprints over 5 years. I’m not really against him, but there are some others worth considering at better prices. I’m not too fond of the likely second choice in the wagering, King Angelo. This 4-year-old did break his maiden on turf, but I think he’s a better dirt horse. He didn’t have a major excuse when he lost at this level last time and I think he’d have to do better than that to beat War Terminator and a few others in here. Cotton may appreciate the turnback after finding 1 1/16 miles a bit too far for him in his last two starts against winners. He had sprinted effectively early in his career and should move forward on the cutback. My top pick is Uncle George. This horse has obviously been a disappointment since his visually impressive debut last year, finishing off the board in all 5 subsequent starts. However, he returned this year as a new gelding last time and ran better than the sixth place result would indicate. That was a pace that held together on the front end, and Uncle George found himself in an unenviable spot, buried inside at the top of the stretch. He clearly had plenty of run but had to be conservatively ridden for the final eighth while totally covered up in traffic. He’s clearly capable of better, and he figures to get his preferred pace setup this time with run-off speed type Stanhope in the race.


I do believe Runaway Rumour is the horse to beat in this Winter Memories, which drew a large field of 12 runners. However, she was done no favors at the post position draw, landing in a slot just one position from the outside. Jose Lezcano has his work cut out for him getting a trip from this wide draw, but the filly is certainly good enough to win this race. She arguably ran the best race last time in the Sands Point when she launched an early, wide move on the turn to just miss to Fluffy Socks. The slight cutback in distance should suit her, but she may not get much pace to close into with no clear front-runners signed on. I would also use Plum Ali, who didn’t run as well as Runaway Rumour in the Sands Point. However, she was stymied inside of much of the stretch run that day. She’s drawn much better down in post 3 this time and could work out a better trip. I’m trying to beat both of them with White Frost. We haven’t seen this 3-year-old daughter of Candy Ride in over 9 months, but she looked like a budding star on this surface last winter. She won her grass debut over this course last year in very impressive fashion, sprinting through the final sixteenth to win impressively over a strong field. The 108 TimeformUS Speed Figure that she earned that day makes her a contender, and she’s suppose to be capable of faster now with routine improvement. She validated that maiden win next time, taking the Sweetest Chant with another flying finish. The form of that race has obviously stood the test of time, as Con Lima went on to become a multiple graded stakes winner later in the year. The layoff is a concern, but she’s been putting up some fast workout times in the morning. She also has the tactical speed to work out a decent trip in this potential paceless affair.

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