Friday TimeformUS Highlight Horse: Battle Scars comes in off deceptively strong effort

Aqueduct | Race 3 | Post Time 1:18 p.m. (ET) | Go to the TimeformUS PPs | Not already a TimeformUS member? Sign up 

This New York-bred optional claimer is an intriguing convergence of horses on the downswing and those on the upswing. To put it more explicitly, it pits horses racing for the $45k optional claiming tag against those who fit the allowance condition and may inherently have more upside. 

The two high-profile contenders in for the tag are Graded On a Curve (#8) and Therapist (#9). Both can easily beat this field if they show up with their best efforts, but it’s fair to have some questions about their current form. Graded On a Curve is arguably more trustworthy as he drops in class after putting in some respectable efforts against open company. However, he’s surely seen better days and is drawn outside in a paceless affair. That lack of pace could compromise Therapist even more, as he has absolutely no early speed. He also comes in off a poor effort in his first start off the claim for George Weaver, who quickly drops him down to nearly half the price for which he acquired him. I want to go in a different direction. 

Among those who fit this allowance condition, Grape Nuts Warrior (#4) and Catch That Party (#5) both make sense. The former recently finished a narrow second at this level, and the latter flew him to just miss second into a slow pace. I would use both, but I’m more interested in a horse with a different profile. 

BATTLE SCARS (#1) is running one condition up, as he’s still eligible for the N1X level. However, he’s not out of place here based on form and his connections probably want to get in a race before turf season ends, since he’s been rained off the turf or stuck on the AE list recently. He ran a huge race coming off the layoff last time, closing into a slow pace while racing wide against a strong rail bias. He had been competitive with Grape Nuts Warrior when he competed here last year, and he’s going to be a much bigger price than that foe this time. Like others, he could be compromised by pace, but I’m hoping Kendrick Carmouche gets a little more aggressive from this inside draw.

THE PLAY

WIN: #1 Battle Scars, at 6-1 or greater

USE: 4,5,8

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