Aqueduct Horses in Focus for Sunday, December 4


Valenzan Day (#5) is obviously the horse to beat as he drops in class to race for the $50k tag in this starter allowance. This colt started off his career in promising fashion, but disappointed in a series of stakes. It would appear that Rudy Rodriguez ran him out of town to race in those optional claiming races, which typically aren’t available until late in the season at NYRA. He wasn’t claimed for $62,500 in his last couple of starts, so I suppose they feel comfortable to risk him for $50k here, though one would think he’s worth a bit more than that as a Florida-bred, given the speed figures he’s running. He’s a deserving favorite, but he figures to be an awfully short price in a race where a few others do have some upside. Bobby the Tank (#3) is wheeling back on short rest, but he was game to hold on going a mile when breaking his maiden last week. Linda Rice tends to do well off short rests and the turnback in distance should suit him. Yet I want to go in a different direction with a horse who may get somewhat overlooked. Rol Again Dancer (#4) looks light on speed figures compared to the favorite, but he’s actually kept pretty strong company in his recent races. Both Recruiter and Johnnz From Albany, who finished first and second two back, returned to win stakes in their next starts with improved speed figures. Rol Again Dancer was finishing decently that day despite looking a little reluctant to go through between horses in the stretch. He didn’t run as well last time at Parx, but the winner of that race has some quality to him. I like the stretch-out in distance, as he’s bred to go longer, and he seems like one who could benefit from blinkers. It’s also noteworthy that he isn’t risked for the $50k tag after putting in some quick workouts in recent weeks. I’m expecting an improved effort this time.


I acknowledge that Mia Bea Star (#6) looks pretty formidable against this group off her series of recent speed figures, but I just can’t stomach such a short price on this mare. Randi Persaud is not the kind of trainer that I personally want to trust with a horse that could be around even-money, and Mia Bea Star herself has never been the most reliable win candidate. She will be a handful if she runs back to her races two and three back, when she closed into moderate paces behind Know It All Audrey. However, she didn’t run quite as well last time when she looked a bit more logical. She can win, but I wanted to look elsewhere. The two logical alternatives are Juliana’s Rose (#3) and Dufresne (#4). The former hasn’t run particularly fast in her races, but she has met some better rivals in her last couple of starts, and she’s bred to stretch out as a full-sister to stakes winner Maiden Beauty. Dufresne isn’t the most convincing on dirt, but she did seem to handle a sloppy track in the Maid of the Mist last year. Yet I want to get more creative with a longshot. Shadolamo (#1) looks cheaper than these at first glance, but I’m intrigued by her recent move back into the Eduardo Jones barn. She had run her best races for him earlier this year and showed some signs that she might be heading back in the right direction in her second start off a trainer switch back to his stable last time. She has been going shorter recently, but she handled a mile earlier this year and sprung a huge upset with a competitive speed figure going this distance last winter. It doesn’t hurt that she’s getting weight from the favorite with the apprentice riding, and she figures to be a generous price.


I really struggled with this Stallion Series stakes, as all of the favorites have their flaws. Yo Cuz (#2) has been popular with the bettors and could take money once again as she returns from a layoff here. She disappointed in her last couple of starts, but problems at the gate plagued her on both occasions. That said, she really threw in the towel each time when she didn’t make the lead, and she probably isn’t fast enough to get in front of longshot Bunty Windermere today. Bank On Anna (#5) seems logical off her Union Avenue victory two back, but she significantly regressed last time against optional claiming company without a major excuse. She could just be yet another Phil Serpe runner who ran well at Saratoga and has since gone the wrong way. Impazible Donna (#6) earned a strong speed figure last time, but that race was dominated towards the front end, and she’s never been the most reliable win candidate. Therefore, I want to look beyond them with Galaxina (#1). I don’t totally trust this filly, but she figures to be the right price as she returns from a layoff. She disappointed last time out in the Fleet Indian, but I don’t think she wants any part of 9 furlongs. This turnback should suit her, and she ran well over in a similar spot when she upset Yo Cuz earlier this year. Furthermore, H. James Bond is 10 for 41 (24%, $3.52 ROI) off 90 to 180 day layoffs in dirt sprints over the past 5 years. 

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