Aqueduct Horses in Focus for Friday, March 11


This New York-bred maiden claimer is probably the most interesting race of the day, which says more about a lack of intrigue through the rest of the card than anything else. #5 Salute to America could go favored as he drops in for a tag for the first time in his career. He’s obviously faced better fields in all of his attempts at the maiden special weight level, including last time when no match for subsequent Gotham third-place finisher Golden Code. However, Tom Morley is just 2 for 30 (7%, $0.76 ROI) with MSW to MCL dropdowns over the past 5 years. Furthermore, it’s not clear to me that this horse really wants to go a mile. I could say the same about the rival just to his outside. #6 Wild Carp Diem sports some decent form at this level, but he’s never raced beyond 6 furlongs and all of his dirt starts have come over sloppy, sealed tracks. I’m a little skeptical of both at short prices. A viable alternative appears to be #9 Reservation. If you’re a fan of gallop-outs, this horse may be for you. He lagged well behind the field in the early going of his debut, but he really picked up the bit in the last furlong and was finishing best of all before galloping out past the leaders after the wire. My issue is that he ran that race over a sloppy track, and he has a bit of a turf action as well as a turf pedigree on the dam’s side. And Rudy Rodriguez is just 2 for 26 (8%, $0.41 ROI) with maiden second time starters going from sprints to routes on dirt over 5 years. I think there are a couple of bigger prices to consider. The logical one is #7 Sir William. Some may underestimate this 4-year-old, but I see nothing wrong with this recent form. He’s run faster than most of the 3-year-olds who will attract attention, and he’s exiting a race at this level that was much tougher than the group he faces here. The horses that completed the trifecta in that spot might all be odds-on in here, and Sir William was hardly disgraced finishing fourth. This strapping son of Midnight Lute has slowly been rounding into form and he projects to get a good trip stalking the two speedy favorites. I want to highlight longshot #10 Uncle Water Flow. This horse was uncompetitive on turf, but his one dirt start last time is worth a viewing. He stumbled badly a few strides after the start and then went on a Magical Mystery Tour, going 6-wide into the turn, racing greenly while drifting all the way down to the rail in the stretch. I don’t love the fact that he’s been off since then, nor that the same rider is aboard him. However, he’s getting significant class relief and may have more to offer if he can run straight.


The horse to beat might be #1 Laochi, who breaks from the rail. The biggest knock against her is that she’s already had plenty of chances to break through at this level, and has been short prices in each of her last two starts. That said, she was against rail biases on both occasions, and her prior form is superior to that of most rivals in this field. That said, she has a tendency to break slowly, which could be an issue as she leaves from an inside post. I prefer her main rival #9 Bavarian Creme. This 4-year-old ran deceptively well in her career debut on Jan. 13. That day featured a strong rail bias early in the card, and she was chasing outside the entire way, going 3-wide on the turn before proceeding in the 2-path through the stretch. She did fade in the late stages, but so did most horses who chased outside in surrounding races. She was clearly well-intentioned that day and she should be highly competitive here if able to reproduce that form over a fair surface. I don’t love that she was a vet scratch when entered back on Feb. 11, but she’s worked well wince then and just seems very logical. #8 Sister Luck could challenge if able to get back to the dirt form from early in her career, but she’s awfully hard to trust off a layoff coming out of the Al Stall and Todd Pletcher barns. #7 Winter Siren is perhaps more interesting as she debuts for Charlton Baker. There’s really no pedigree to highlight, but the barn is in the midst of a fantastic meet, and it’s a good sign that leading rider Dylan Davis takes the mount. A horse that I would try to get into the mix somewhere, primarily in exotics, is #3 Vivazano. She’s had her fair share of chances after showing some promise at the start of her career. That said, she was compromised by a speed bias on Jan. 2 when getting a pretty tentative ride. Then last time she was incomprehensibly rated to the back of the pack after breaking well. She finally gets a rider upgrade to Jose Gomez, who should be able to make better use of her early speed. Yet it’s unclear if she has a winning effort in her, while others have more upside. Upgrade her if the price is right.

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