RACE 3: MAKINGCENTS (#1)
Customerexperience has gotten back into top form recently after some inconsistent efforts through the middle of last year. She’s always done some of her best running at Aqueduct and she made a triumphant return to this venue last time, winning decisively. She was racing outside the entire way on Dec. 19, a day that featured a dead rail, so she was with the track bias. She was also going out for the sharp Rob Atras barn that day. She’s now been claimed by William Morey, who himself has had a strong run so far at Aqueduct. She’s handled the one-mile distance in the past and is the horse to beat, but I wouldn’t want to settle for too short a price. I’m highly skeptical of Charge Account, who could also attract support. If she brings her best form she’s going to be a handful in here, but it’s a little hard to trust her as she drops back in for a tag off the layoff. Kelly Breen is 10 for 81 (12%, $1.20 ROI) off 90 to 180 day layoffs over the past 5 years, so there are some reasons to be skeptical that she can deliver her best race. Bee Bit has some appeal based on her recent dirt form, but Chris Englehart has very poor numbers first off the claim with dirt routers. I want to give a shot to Makingcents on the dropdown. She clearly hasn’t looked like the same horse after her 3-year-old season. However, I thought she showed some signs of life when dropped in for a tag against NY-breds last time. That Dec. 19 race was a strangely run affair where they set a glacial early pace before sprinting home. Notably, this mare was glued to the rail the entire way on a day when all the best running was done on the outside. That effort may be better than it looks, and she figures to be the controlling speed from the inside this time. It’s the last chance for this once classy runner.
RACE 7: GOLDEN PLUME (#1)
My Roxy Girl could go favored here as she steps up in class first off the claim for Linda Rice. Many players will be aware of the fact that she didn’t get the best ride or trip from Raul Mena last time out when she ran here just 7 days ago. She got caught in a pocket early and then found herself in traffic with nowhere to go when trying to split tiring runners in the stretch. It was an awkward trip and she arguably could have won that race with a clean run. However, it’s not as if she’s coming into this race with especially hidden form. She was running well prior to that for Juan Vazquez, and it seems unlikely that Linda Rice will improve a horse who already seemed to be firing on all cylinders. She can obviously win if she merely holds her form, but she’s moving up in class and there are more intriguing options at better prices. Some may be willing to give another shot to More Moonshine, but she’s run out of chances for me. She looked so promising at the start of her career, but she’s failed to recreate that debut performance in three subsequent starts. A couple of runners are switching from turf to dirt for the first time. I’m against Kept Waiting, who could take money due to the fact that she goes out for the hot Rob Falcone barn. She obviously comes off a career-best effort, but I’m not convinced that she’ll handle the main track. I am more optimistic about the dirt prospects of Golden Plume, who also switches surfaces. While her dam Nebraska Tornado was a very good turf horse, they did try her on dirt in the 2004 Breeders’ Cup Distaff. She’s primarily produced turf horses, but this filly is by Candy Ride. Furthermore, she’s always trained exceptionally well on the dirt, appearing to relish this surface in the mornings. She doesn’t have an overly turfy running style, lacking a turn of foot, so perhaps she’ll take to dirt. Chad Brown actually has solid stats making this move with older runners.
RACE 8: THINKING IT OVER (#9)
Moam could vie for favoritism in this Franklin Square off her debut win at Saratoga. While she has that positive experience at the distance, she got a great trip that day, closing into a quick pace. I’m not sure that was the strongest field and I wonder where she’s been for the intervening months. Among the short prices, I prefer Leeloo, who just looks like the horse to beat off her impressive maiden triumph last time out. She may have moved up on the sloppy track, but she had shown some promise in her debut as well. She figures to be forwardly placed early but doesn’t need the lead, and she comes in with the fastest last-out speed figure. Sterling Silver beat Leeloo in her debut and would benefit from a quick pace up front if a few of these fillies decide to knock heads on the lead. She has a right to step forward for a barn that rarely has their firsters cranked up to win on debut. I’m using both of these, but my top pick is Thinking It Over. This Ray Handal trainee was touted on debut when she won an off-the-turf affair against a pretty decent field. She had worked impressively coming into that race and delivered, wearing down a fellow first time starter through the lane. Horses have come back out of that race to run reasonably well and I like that she showed the ability to rate from an outside post position. She’s continued to post some fast workout times in the mornings, and I think she’s another who has a right to step forward in her second career start.