Aqueduct Horses in Focus for Saturday, February 12

RACE 3: SEAHORSE D’ORO (#2)

Freddymo Factor could go favored here off her narrow loss at this level last time out. While she ran a competitive race that day, she really is more of a turf horse. She also got a great trip stalking outside on a day when the rail was dead. She’s obviously a contender here, but I prefer some others at bigger prices. Both Scott Alaia and Raffinity are somewhat appealing off the claim for a pair of sharp barns. Scott Alaia goes out for Michelle Nevin, and Raffinity was claimed by Michelle Giangiulio. I prefer the recent form of Scott Alaia, but Raffinity has back races for Rob Atras that would make her dangerous if the new barn can bring out that form. I’m going in a different direction with Seahorse d’Oro. This horse was an interesting claim by Ray Handal two back, since he actually had this horse at the start of her career before she was claimed out of her debut. In her first start off the claim last time, she actually ran deceptively well. That pace held together and she was the only runner to make a significant run from the back of the pack, doing so while racing wide against a strong rail bias on Jan. 23. I like her stretching back out in distance to a mile, and she should be a decent price with Jalon Samuel named to ride again.

RACE 7: MEDICINE TAIL (#10)

American Monarch figures to go favored here after getting bet down to a ridiculous even-money at this level last time. He didn’t run to that support, but did nevertheless put in a decent effort to be second behind the improved Sound Money. A repeat of that performance puts him in the mix once again, but this is a competitive field and I don’t need the clear favorite at another underlaid price. One of the more obvious alternative is Scocciatore, who makes his first start off the claim for Tom Morley. This barn has had some success off the claim recently, though Morley is no longer on the same hot streak that we witnessed last fall. That said, this gelding makes some sense here based on his limited dirt efforts. I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect him to get back to his blowout victory from Saratoga over the summer, but he ran fine last time when just missing against New York-breds. I expect him to get a more aggressive ride this time from Luis Rodriguez. Despite the large field, I don’t see that much early speed in this race so I want runners that can be forwardly placed. My top pick at an even bigger price is Medicine Tail. This horse showed some talent on the dirt when he was a younger horse. He picked up a stakes-placing as a 2-year-old, and ran well at Keeneland last April in a fast allowance event for the level. He didn’t fare as well on Apr. 16, but he also got a strange ride that day. He came off the layoff at Turfway last time and put in a deceptively strong effort against a good field. That was a contested pace and he rushed up early before fading. The third-place finisher Pirate Rick, who he dueled with, returned to win with a 109 TimeformUS Speed Figure. I expect him to be aggressively ridden from this outside post and I think he’s a real threat getting back on dirt.

RACE 8: BARESE (#5)

Bold Journey is the horse to beat off his blowout maiden victory in December. He had shown promise in his career debut and stepped forward last time off the trainer switch to Bill Mott, easily drawing away from that field after setting the pace. The race was flattered when runner-up Golden Code returned to win his next start by over 10 lengths with a 96 TimeformUS Speed Figure. Bold Journey is bred to stretch out as a half-brother to Cigar Mile winner Americanrevolution. My one knock against him is that he was late to change leads in his debut and he failed to change leads in his maiden win. He’s still a bit green, and I wonder if that will affect him as he steps up in class to meet a much tougher field. I prefer his main rival Barese. This horse didn’t run particularly fast in his career debut, but showed promise at Belmont last May. He was off for a long time, but picked up right where he left off in his return in the Rego Park. Dylan Davis gave him a confident ride, stalking outside behind a moderate pace before reeling in the leaders through the stretch. I love the way this horse levels off when he hits top gear, and I’m optimistic that he can handle the mile. He’s by versatile sire Laoban and his dam is a full-sister to Kentucky Derby runner-up Closing Argument. The other horse who should have a say in the outcome is G Munning. The mile is a real question for him, but he did beat Bold Journey in each of their career debuts. I thought his connections made a mistake rating him last time, and he figures to get a more aggressive ride on the stretch-out.

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