Aqueduct Horses in Focus for Friday, February 4

RACE 1: HEYMACKIT’SJACK (#3)

This field is desperate for a new face, as proven options like Brew Pub, Scherzando, and even Feathers Road do very little to get the pulse going. Brew Pub arguably has the best form of them all, but he’s hard to endorse as a win candidate given his 0 for 20 career record. The obvious fresh face is the first time starter Mr Breadwinner. This 4-year-old colt sold for $75k at OBS March in 2020 after working a quarter in 21 3/5. However, it’s taken him nearly two years to get to the races after that. Tonalist is just a 7% debut sire, and the dam lost both starts. She’s produced one winner from 3 foals to race, but all were pretty limited in terms of ability. That said, Horacio DePaz is 11 for 58 (19%, $2.50 ROI) with first time starters in dirt sprints over 5 years. That Jan. 28 workout is fast, and his gate drill on Dec. 31 matches Sweet Solare, who took money and was 3rd on debut for this barn last week. I think he’s dangerous, but the new face that I want figure to be a more generous price. Heymackit’sjack is a former Kimmel runner who returns in the barn of top jump trainer Keri Brion While she is just 1 for 31 (3%, $0.16 ROI) in flat races over the past 5 years, most of those starters were cheap claimers at Penn National. This colt comes in a little light on speed figures, but he was last competing as a newly turned 3-year-old, so he has a right to do better now. It’s also worth noting that he was outside against a rail bias when he last competed on Feb. 25. He’s a half-brother to 7-time dirt winner Money in the Bank, so there’s pedigree for him to pan out, and this is not the toughest field.

RACE 6: PIER FORTY (#3)

Mister Candy Ride was entered in that Jan. 13 affair that many of these exit, but he got scratched by Linda Rice, who went with Royal Tryst instead. Rice was listed as the owner that day, but now he comes back in a common ownership entry with Royal Tryst. Rice is 22 for 65 (34%, $2.00 ROI) first off the claim in Aqueduct dirt routes over the past 5 years. However, her barn has been on a cold streak at this meet. He arguably ran the best race despite losing to Royal Tryst at Churchill last time as he made the  first move into a pace that collapsed. This horse once showed a lot of promise for Ken McPeek, and his last effort suggested he was getting back on track. I’m not against him, but I didn’t want this entry at a short price. Extreme has to be considered a threat given his ample early speed in a race lacking a clear pace scenario. He’s been pretty disappointing since the claim by Ray Handal, failing to make much of an impact in two starts at this level. That said, he faced an unfavorable pace scenario two back at Churchill when he got outrun to the lead through very fast fractions in a race that collapsed late. I’m not convinced that he really wants a mile, but he may be catching the right field here. Among the horses exiting that Jan. 13 race at this level, I’m most interested in Pier Forty. He undoubtedly ran the best race, as he got outrun into the first turn despite a hustling ride, and then was forced to make a wide move into the backstretch. He followed the early bid of High Tide and then put that rival away in the lane before getting overhauled by a closer. It was a big effort considering the ground loss and overall pace collapse. He’s a little tough to endorse off his prior form, but perhaps he’s just a new horse since the claim by Vazquez, who is on quite a run at this meet. I like the turnback to a mile for him as well.

RACE 8: PRIORITIZE (#5)

Mystic Night will probably go favored here as he drops in class back to the N2X allowance level. He was surely overbet in the Queens County last time when pounded down to even-money despite facing a strong field of seasoned stakes performers. That said, he still ran poorly that day, unable to take advantage of an outside bias while significantly regressing from a speed figure standpoint. The bottom line with him is that he’s been favored at odds of 9-5 or less in his last four starts and has lost all of them. You can make some excuses for him, but his form has nevertheless been declining ever since that amazing performance to win here last March. This is among the softest fields he’s met recently, but I have to let him beat me at what figures to be a short price. I’m also against Hammerin Aamer, who steps up in class after beating $40k claiming foes off the claim last time. He’s been steadily improving ever since last fall, but at some point there has to be an upper limit to his progress and I feel like he probably reached it last time. He’s also had little success going this 1 1/8 miles distance. I’m most interested in two horses. My top pick is Prioritize. His recent form leaves something to be desired, but he actually closed decently into a moderate pace two back, and then lost all chance at the start last time. Dec. 31 was also a day that was favoring speed types, so he was doubly compromised. He was claimed out of that race by Rudy Rodriguez, who is 21-for-65 (32%, $2.18 ROI) first off the claim in dirt routes at Aqueduct over the past 5 years. Furthermore, he’s getting to stretch back out to his preferred 1 1/8 miles distance, and he’s being reunited with Eric Cancel, who rode him when he was in peak form. At a bigger price, I also want to use Croation. Tony Dutrow doesn’t have the strongest numbers off the claim, but this horse has plenty of back races that put him in the mix. He wants to run all day, so I like stretching out to two turns, and he was compromised by a moderate pace that held together last time.

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