Aqueduct Horses in Focus for Saturday, November 12

RACE 1: LOOMS BOLDLY (#5)

A pair of second time starters figure to take most of the money in here. Lifetime of Chance (#6) faced a pretty good field when he made his debut here just over two weeks ago. Breaking from the rail, he settled in to a good stalking position early and stayed on willingly while no match for the top two finishers. That was a fast race for the level, and he was beaten by a couple of rivals who appear to have NY-bred stakes potential. Linda Rice is 18 for 57 (32%, $2.83 ROI) with maiden second time starters in dirt sprints over the past 5 years. He’s obviously dangerous if he merely repeats that debut performance, but I think he could face a real challenge from the second time starter drawn to his inside. Looms Boldly (#5) didn’t take much money on debut despite possessing a good dirt sprint pedigree. By well-rounded sire Goldencents, he’s a half-brother to stakes winner Critical Value and multiple dirt sprint winner Steam Engine. He noticeably stumbled out of the starting gate first time out, but recovered to display excellent early speed, opening up at mid-stretch before getting reeled in by the closing winner. He arguably ran the best race that day, which is reflected in his 88 TimeformUS Speed Figure, where he got a big pace upgrade. Brad Cox is 11 for 35 (31%, $2.21 ROI) with maiden second time starters in NYRA dirt sprints over the past 5 years. I would also use him with first time starter Bustino Santino (#2), who is by 20% juvenile debut sire Bustin Stones and a full-brother to the solid allowance performer Bustin Timberlake.

RACE 2: HEALING (#3)

I suppose Bold Victory (#5) merits some consideration if he runs here, but he’d be coming back on just 4 days’ rest after a poor effort at Parx on Tuesday. His prior form makes him a contender, but the two-month gap in his form prior to that last race is a bit of a concern. He’s also a bit of a plodder who sometimes leaves himself with too much ground to make up, and there isn’t much pace in this field. The two horses who figure to be forward early are It’s Mandatory (#1) andPioneer Spirit (#2). They both come in with solid form, though the former has primarily raced at Finger Lakes in recent starts. Yet the real change in It’s Mandatory’s form seems to have stemmed from a change in tactics, as he’s been ridden much more aggressively ever since coming into the Chris Englehart barn. This is a class test for him, but he feels like one who will get the distance. The same goes for Pioneer Spirit, who is moving up slightly after beating a $20k claiming field last month. He’s generally run well when spotted realistically by this barn, and figures to work out a good trip. I’m going in a different direction with Healing (#3), who I’m hoping will be a better price. It might appear that this horse has run poorly in his three starts since getting claimed by Mitch Friedman, since he’s been off the board each time. Yet his trips tell a slightly different story. He actually stayed on well in that $50k claimer in September when facing a talented group of runners. He only finished a length behind War Stopper, who came back to win with a 115 TimeformUS Speed Figure. Then two back, nothing went right, as he got away to a tangled start and then spent too much time racing on a disadvantageous rail path. His last effort wasn’t very good, but that was another much tougher spot, and he did finish ahead of Pioneer Spirit. Like that rival, he will appreciate stretching back out to 1 1/8 miles and getting some class relief. 

RACE 3: STAGE LEFT (#6)

This optional claimer is extremely competitive, as you can make a case for every single betting interesting in the field. Amundson (#4) is arguably the horse to beat after holding on to win a $40k claimer last time. He’s now won two of his last three starts and appears to have recaptured some of the form that we saw out of him as a younger horse. However, now he’s been claimed by Linda Rice, who is immediately moving him up in class into a tougher spot. The major hurdle for him is the amount of speed in this race. The TimeformUS Pace Projector is predicting a fast pace, and it’s hard to envision any other scenario with at least 3 runners who want to be on the early lead. The quickest of those may be Pirate Rick (#1A), who is part of a coupled entry. He’s drawn well in the outside post, and comes off a huge performance off the layoff last time at Laurel. He carved out legitimate fractions that day and battled back gamely when challenged by the winner in the stretch. He’s wheeling back on short rest, as is customary for Lynn Cash’s trainees, but will be awfully tough if he’s able to repeat that last performance. Among those who could benefit from a contested pace is Nova Rags (#3), but I haven’t seen him show much improvement in two starts so far as a 4-year-old. I would rather go with another horse who should be sitting just off the pace. Stage Left (#6) hasn’t run back to that impressive victory at the N1X level three back in two subsequent starts. However, he did have a legitimate excuse last time. The rail was not the place to be on Sep. 30, and he was glued to the inside path for his entire trip, cutting the corner when making his move at the top of the stretch. He briefly challenged the leader before understandably flattening out late. He’s better than that result indicates, and can rebound here if the pace heats up.

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