Aqueduct Horses in Focus for Saturday, December 10

RACE 6: MUSIC AMORE (#5)

While all of the likely favorites make a certain amount of sense in this $35k conditioned claimer, I wanted to look beyond them. Trade Secret (#6)Funwhileitlasted (#2), and Vallarand (#9) all faced off in a race on Nov. 13 at a slightly lower level than this. Trade Secret got the job done that day, but has since been claimed by new connections, now going out for Jamie Begg. She also got away with a very slow pace en route that victory, which also benefited Funwhileitlasted. Vallarand may be the right one to take from that last race, since she was out of position early before trying to make up ground through the stretch. I expect her to run better drawing the outside post on this occasion. Yet there are some others coming from different directions worth considering. Run Up the Score (#3) gets back on dirt after two turf tries earlier in the fall. She won on grass two back with a perfect trip, but I don’t mind her getting back on the dirt here. She’s handled a mile in the past, and the Linda Rice barn has been in the midst of a strong run. My top pick at what I hope is a bigger price is Music Amore (#5). This filly concentrated on turf and synthetic for much of the early part of her career, but she’s run just fine since switching over to dirt in recent starts. She earned an off the turf stakes victory against a field of turf horses over the summer, and some might view her as having regressed since then. However, I don’t want to hold the race at Timonium against her, and she really didn’t run that badly against stakes foes last time going a distance that is likely too short for her. She traveled well early and wasn’t really persevered with late despite staying in contact with the field. She’s now dropping to an appropriate level, and I like the stretch-out to a mile. I’m hoping Jose Gomez is able to hustle her into a forward early position, as she seems to do best when she’s in the mix throughout.

RACE 7: EXCELLENT TIMING (#7)

Many will concede this race to likely favorite Who Hoo Thats Me (#4), who does look pretty formidable on paper. He comes into this displaying a consistent set of recent speed figures, fresh off a good second-place finish against stakes foes in the Hudson. However, despite his consistent performances, he’s still eligible for this N2X condition, having earned just one victory in his last 9 starts, including a number of losses at relatively short prices. Circumstances have worked against him on a few occasions, but he’s still not the most reliable win candidate. Now Jorge Abreu adds blinkers, but he’s just 3 for 51 (6%, $0.38 ROI) with that move over the past 5 years. This horse can obviously win, but I preferred his main rival at what figures to be a slightly better price. Excellent Timing (#7) has been beaten by Who Hoo Thats Me twice in a row, but I thought he ran the better races on both occasions. He set a legitimate pace in the mud two back at Saratoga before getting run down by a back-in-form Perfect Munnings. He received a field-best 121 TimeformUS Speed Figure for that effort. Then last time he was hustled to the front end ahead of some other speeds through an unreasonably fast opening quarter mile. He paid the price late, fading to fifth, but still earned a 114 TimeformUS Speed Figure, factoring in a massive pace upgrade. I think he’s in better form than those results indicate, and now he lands in a spot where he looks like the controlling pace, since he’s naturally quicker than horses like Bar Fourteen and Colormepazzi. He’s handled 7 furlongs before when he’s been able to relax up front. The price horse that I want to get into the mix underneath is Brew Pub (#3). A win may be just out of reach, but this horse has been in solid form lately, both dirt and turf. I’m willing to forgive his slight regression last time, since he was ridden a bit too aggressively. He can get a piece of this if he sits back and makes one run.

RACE 9: WHAT’S UP BRO (#6)

Likely favorite Quick Chaos (#3) ran pretty well in both starts earlier this year. He took a bit of money on debut when checking in third at Belmont before collecting another minor award when adding blinkers for his second start at Saratoga. He faced a pretty good rival that day in subsequent stakes winner Acoustic Ave. However, he now hasn’t been seen for a few months, and Jorge Abreu is just 2 for 20 (10%, $0.86 ROI) off 90 to 180 day layoffs on dirt over the past 5 years. He’s logical against this relatively weak field, but I’m interested in some others. What’s Up Bro (#6) didn’t take much action on the tote board despite having Irad Ortiz aboard for his debut. Yet that was a tougher race for the level, as winner Looms Boldly was a second time starter who appeared to have some ability. This gelding was a little green and rank moving down the backstretch while taking dirt in his face. He seemed to get a good education that day, even though he was only one-paced when he got into the clear late. Robert Klesaris isn’t known for success with these types, but that may ensure a fair price. The horse has the pedigree to be a runner as a half-brother to 7 winners, including high-level allowance dirt horse High Amplitude. I would also use fellow second time starter Four Eyes (#9), who ships in from Finger Lakes. Trainer Ralph D’Alessandro has sent live runners to this circuit in past years, and I thought this gelding showed some potential on debut. He lacked early speed, but was striding well through the stretch. That also appeared to be a decent field compared to most maidens at Finger Lakes.

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