Aqueduct Horses in Focus for Saturday, March 12


I’ll be interested to see how much money #8 Merger of Equals attracts in this spot. An RNA for $30k as a yearling, she sold for $185k at the Fasig-Tipton Timonium sale last year after working a furlong in 10 2/5. Unified is a 15% debut sire with his first crop, and there isn’t much pedigree on the dam’s side. Chad Brown is 5 for 11 (45%, $3.70 ROI) with 3YO first time starters on dirt at Aqueduct over the past 2 years. Some of the recent works match up with Beauxs Artes, who debuts for this barn in the first race, but I suspect she was outworked from the gate by that one. Among those with experience, the horse who may take money that I’m against is #7 Carbon. She’s earned some flashy speed figures, but I don’t love that she’s been off since November, and Rice entered and scratched her out of a $40k maiden claiming race last month. My top pick is #6 Royal Currency. She was bet down to even-money favoritism last time in her second start off the layoff and was quite disappointing. However, she was racing on a day when the inside paths were a disadvantage, and she was one of many compromised by that track bias. Royal Currency had ran well in her prior start and is going out for a barn that has done little wrong at the current meet. She’s a half-sister to multiple stakes winner Gold for the King ($724k), so she’s bred to be a good one. I’m giving her one more chance with the blinkers added. That said, I’m not against a couple of horses drawn to her inside. #5 Darn that Song makes sense after chasing a fast pace that fell apart in her most recent start. She also adds blinkers, but perhaps doesn’t have as much upside as some others. An intriguing wild card could be #1 Succulent. Even though she was beaten by double-digit margins in all of her starts last summer at Saratoga, she faced some solid fields and was running on late after a series of slow starts. She may have more ability than it appears and now returns for David Donk.


#6 Amity Island is the horse to beat as she drops back down in class to face claimers after a series of races against tougher company. She actually did quite well after getting claimed by Horacio De Paz last year, winning a NY-bred allowance event in December. However, she was simply overmatched in her last two starts, one of which came against stakes company. This drop makes sense for a filly who had previously been effective at similar levels. That said, it is possible that her form is tailing off and the connections could have waited for a $40k claimer to get written. I prefer her main rival #7 Chaysenbryn. Her recent speed figures are obviously inferior to those of Amity Island, but I think her overall form is better than it looks. Since she did well here last winter, she’s raced in a pair of sprints, one of which came following a 7-month layoff. Both of those races featured extremely slow paces, so she had little chance to get involved. She finally landed in a more favorable spot last time, but she didn’t get an ideal trip. She appeared to get discouraged behind a wall of horses around the far turn and didn’t find a clear path until the three-sixteenths pole. She really took off in the late stages once she found daylight and was quickly closing in on today’s rival #1 Sweet Mission late. I prefer Chaysenbryn out of that race and think she can beat this field with another slight step forward.


This race centers around a couple of 5-year-old mares who haven’t shown much affinity for winning races. The more notorious of those is #5 Snicket, who has compiled 9 second-place finishes to go along with her single victory in 19 career starts. She’s been in her fair share of races that she should have won and she just loves to settle for second. She never got the chance display her hanging talents as the 4-5 favorite last time, as she parted ways with Dylan Davis coming out of the gate. She’s landed in a tougher spot at the same level here, but she is once again the horse to beat. Yet I prefer her main rival #6 Bankers Daughter, who has shown some of the same tendencies to hang at times in her career. That said, I think Bankers Daughter at her best is a more naturally talented dirt sprinter than Snicket. She faced some decent fields at this level when she was in her prime during late 2020 and into the spring of 2021. The problem is that she’s been pulled up across the wire in two of her last three starts. Something clearly went wrong with her early last year, but the connections have given her plenty of time to recuperate. If she’s going to run well again, she’s likely to do so fresh, as she did last April. She shows a steady pattern of workouts for her return, indicating that there haven’t been too many hiccups getting her back on track. If she shows up, I think she’s supposed to beat this field. The others don’t do much for me. #8 Pretty Clever did have some trouble after the start of her last race, but she was also with the track bias, racing outside avoiding a dead rail. I think many of the others are coming out of slightly weaker races at this level.

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