Aqueduct Horses in Focus for Saturday, February 19

RACE 1: GET YOUR GOLD (#3)

Flattery’s Music is the horse to beat in the opener, but she’s not exactly the most convincing favorite. She lagged behind early and just passed some tired rivals in the stretch. That wasn’t the strongest field, but it was on the turf against maiden special weight company. The class drop should help and she also figures to be more comfortable over dirt. Her dam was a stakes winner on dirt, so she’s probably meant for this surface. Linda Rice is 6 for 25 (24%, $2.04 ROI) with maiden second time starters going from turf to dirt over 5 years, but the barn has been very cold as of late. A couple of rivals exit a race at this level on Jan. 14, but I don’t want runners from that affair. It was a very weak race and I’m more interested in the first time starters. Kiss Me Smile and Credit Suspended both make some sense. The former didn’t sell that well but goes out for Mike Maker, who has good stats with firsters in maiden claiming dirt sprints over 5 years. Credit Suspended has a nice pedigree as a 3/4-sister to Blewitt, but it’s not a good sign that she’s debuting for just $25k. I’m actually intrigued by another firster who figures to get somewhat ignored. Get Your Gold goes out for Ralph D’Alessandro, who is one of the most underrated trainer on the circuit at this time of year. He’s not known for winning first time out, but he’s sent out some big prices to do fine in their debuts, including an 80-1 winner over this track a couple years ago. This filly’s dam possessed a ton of early speed, so she’s bred to be fast. She sports some decent workouts for the debut in a race where the shorter prices do very little for me.

RACE 5: CERRETTA (#4)

The barn change seemed to wake up Kisses for Emily last time, as she showed a new dimension, closing from off the pace to finish a strong second. While she did have to overcome a slow start, she was aided by the track profile, as she rode the rail for much of her trip before angling out in the stretch on a day when the inside was an advantage. That said, she’s shown some promise along the way and could finally be figuring things out. I don’t think she’s necessarily much better than Darn That Song from the same race. Darn That Song was briefly on the rail early, but got steadied and angled off the gold rail on the turn before understandably flattening out. I prefer them to some others who could attract support. True Empress has had her chances but should be competitive here if running back to her performance two back. Celine the Queen has a ton of early speed, but she hasn’t been able to sustain it in her two prior runs. I want to go in a different direction with one of the first time starters. Cerretta is a daughter of 10% debut sire Midnight Lute. While her dam was winless in two starts, she handled dirt and has produced one winner, a turf horse. H. James Bond is 0 for 35 with first time starters in dirt sprints over the past 5 years, but he’s had some big prices hit the board in that sample. Notably, Bond has run 7 first time starters at this current Aqueduct meet, and 4 of those 7 have finished second at odds of 5-2, 9-1, 11-1, and 15-1. She posted some fast workouts at Saratoga last fall, and Bond’s go-to rider McCarthy takes the mount.

RACE 8: MY BOY TATE (#4)

This Hollie Hughes is essentially a two-horse affair between the expected favorites. Wudda U Think Now figures to attract support given his likely pace advantage. He should be the controlling speed here, depending on how much pressure Runningwscissors applies. Wudda U Think Now comes off a dominant score against optional claiming foes, winning by over 10 lengths. He got a 115 TimeformUS Speed Figure for that effort, knocked down from a 125 final time number due to setting a very slow pace. In addition to having soft fractions in his favor, he also was riding a gold rail on Jan. 16, which almost surely enhanced his performance. He’s still dangerous here if getting back to his prior form, but I don’t want to take him as the favorite. I prefer My Boy Tate. This likable 8-year-old gelding is seeking his third victory in this race and he’s coming into it in great form. He got disqualified out of his victory in the Say Florida Sandy last time, but he ran the best race that day, slicing between horses to get up over his rival Lobsta. I don’t mind the cutback to 6 furlongs, and he has the tactical speed to not lose contact with his main rival early, as long as Manny Franco rides him with some awareness of the pace. I’ll take My Boy Tate’s strong finish over Wudda U Think Now’s tactical speed.

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