Likely favorite Lastchanceatglory (#2) has been pretty popular at the claim box, changing hands in each of his last 6 starts. And it’s understandable why he’s appealing, since he’s just a neck shy of having won 4 of his last 5 starts. He comes off a decisive victory at this $40k level for Rob Atras, but he’s moving into another hot barn. Linda Rice is 12 for her last 24 (50%, $3.38 ROI) first off the claim at Aqueduct over the past 2 months or so, as of Thursday. He’s obviously the horse to beat, but his form is exposed and I think he’s landed in a race that features some others with upside at better prices.
I don’t want to write off Famished (#4) just because he finished over 4 lengths behind the favorite last time. He did get a good trip that day, but this Horacio De Paz trainee has run some superior speed figures in the past and may appreciate getting back on a fast track.
Another intriguing entrant is American Rule (#3), who returns from a 6-month layoff. He has plenty of prior races that give him a chance here. While the layoff is a concern, it’s worth noting that he’s not in for a tag. Orlando Noda has actually won with his last two starters off similar layoffs at Aqueduct, both in January. One of those, Glory Road, won in a similar situation, in a $40k claimer with the tag waived, ridden by Davis. I considered him, but I wanted to go in a different direction for my top pick.
MONEY MIKE (#5) seems like an odd participant in this race, as he’s primarily been a sprinter. His lone prior attempt at a mile didn’t go well, but I did like the way he finished in a two-turn 7-furlong race at Charles Town last year, a performance that may have been better than it looks. He is also bred to go longer, being out of the classy Ahh Chocolate, a Grade 2 and Grade 3 winner going 1 1/8 miles on dirt. He put in a relentless rally from off the pace to beat a field of conditioned claimers last time, making his third start in just two weeks. This is a much tougher spot, but he has been claimed by Jose Camejo, who is 17 for 53 (32%, $2.68 ROI) first off the claim on dirt over the past 5 years. I think this horse deserves another chance going longer, and he may be ready for a step forward now that he’s had 6 weeks between starts.
WIN: #5 Money Mike, at 3-1 or greater