Aqueduct Horses in Focus for Thursday, January 12


I want to play against the Rudy Rodriguez entry in this low-level maiden claimer, and both halves could attract some support. Among the favorites, I prefer Will Be Famous (#5) and Tap It Up (#8). The former has already had plenty of chances, but she’s primarily faced tougher company and may finally get getting the class relief she needs. Though, I do wish she had run a bit better in the slop last time at Parx. A wet track could work out better for Tap It Up, who finished well to secure second in the slop last time out. That race came up surprisingly fast, but the number did seem to get validated when fifth-place finisher Bella Michele returned to win her next start. She’s logical as she gets Lasix for James Ryerson. Yet I’m most interested in a runner who finished just behind her in that Nov. 27 affair. Germany Jayvo (#4) was making her career debut that day for Randi Persaud, who almost never wins with first time starters. Yet she actually showed some ability, rallying gamely between horses through the stretch after getting away to a tardy start. She wasn’t as effective last time, but she was too ambitiously placed against maiden special weight company. Now she’s dropping back down to the right level and is getting a subtle rider upgrade to Luis Rodriguez. Randi Persaud’s horses have generally been outrunning their odds lately, and this one looks like a legitimate contender.


This race looks pretty simple at first glance, as both likely favorites appear to have a significant class and speed figure advantage over this field. Yet it’s hard to trust either one to bring their top form to this $14k claimer. I’m especially concerned about the drop in class for Quickflash (#8), whose connections appear to be giving up after a mediocre effort against a tougher field at Parx last time. This consistent check getter seemingly could have made some money for his connections this winter, but they’re basically cutting ties in a race where he’s almost certain to get claimed. He would obviously be tough to beat if he ran as well as he did in his first couple of starts for Natalia Lynch, but it’s fair to wonder if he’s still capable of producing that form. Turnsandconditions (#2) is arguably even less trustworthy as he makes his first start since August, when his claim was voided at Del Mar. He’s exiting the barn of Robertino Diodoro, and has been transferred to Gary Sciacca, who is just 3 for 28 ($1.53 ROI) off trainer switches over the past 5 years. His best effort would make him tough here, but there are obvious questions. The logical alternatives to these favorites are horses like Brunate (#5) and Majestic Tiger (#9), but neither one has shown much affinity for winning lately. I want to go in a different direction with El Mayor (#4). This horse may appear to be overmatched at first glance, but I think he’s a bit better than he looks. It looked like he was off form when he first got to Aqueduct last fall, but I thought he showed signs of life last time at this level. He was aggressively ridden to contest the pace, going 4-wide into the turn and losing valuable ground. That was a quick pace that fell apart, but he never stopped trying in the lane. I’m actually intrigued by the turnback for him, as he’s never really gotten a chance to prove he can be effective sprinting on dirt. He also gets a significant rider upgrade to Dylan Davis.


Spiked (#3) will be tough for this field to handle if she brings her best effort. She gamely chased home subsequent stakes winner Fingal’s Cave going this distance at Saratoga in July, and she proved that she’s still capable of producing that form when she finished second here in late November. She couldn’t hold off the challenge of Spooky Road, but she battled on gamely wearing blinkers for the first time. If you give her the sloppy track excuse for that poor effort in early October, she’s run well in all of her other races. Yet she could encounter another wet track on Thursday, which is a legitimate concern. I still view her as the horse to beat, but I don’t want to take too short a price on her. I’m not particularly interested in the Rudy Rodriguez entry, as they could wind up as the second choice given that both seemingly have a chance. Caragate (#4) is a bit more appealing. This New York-bred finished strongly going a mile last time, and distance isn’t supposed to be an issue for her, as she won decisively going 1 1/8 miles at Saratoga over the summer. She just has to get a little faster to upset the favorite. I’m going in a different direction with Mommasgottarun (#8). At first glance, it seems a little odd that Linda Rice is asking a seemingly one-dimensional sprinter to stretch out to 9 furlongs. Yet she’s had success with this move before. Over the past 5 yeas, Rice is 16 for 35 (46%, $2.59 ROI) first off the claim going from sprints to routes on dirt. Plus Rice is 11 for 23 (48%, $2.94 ROI) with all of her first off the claim runners over the past two months. This filly ran poorly here just 12 days ago, but it appeared that her rider made little effort to motivate her at any point on a day when the track was enveloped in fog. She’s better than that, and actually does have some pedigree to stretch-out.

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