Thursday TimeformUS Highlight Horse: Timbuktu finds better spot second off the claim

Aqueduct | Race 8 | Post Time 4:16 p.m. (ET) | Go to the TimeformUS PPs | Not already a TimeformUS member? Sign up

Likely favorite Overstep (#6) is a real enigma in this field. He showed real talent easily beating maidens on debut before putting forth a game effort in the Sleepy Hollow as a 2-year-old. He was arguably best in that stakes attempt after having to alter course while rallying in the stretch. Yet now he’s been off for 15 months and returns with plenty of questions to answer. Todd Pletcher is known for doing well off layoffs, but he’s just 2 for 22 (9%, $0.35 ROI) off 300+ day breaks in dirt routes over 5 years. This horse briefly returned to training last summer at Saratoga before launching his most recent comeback. The works in Florida look decent enough, but I still wouldn’t want to take any kind of short price on this horse. 

The second and third choices on my morning line, Simply (#2) and Mason Mania (#3), are logical enough, but neither does much for me as the obvious alternatives. I think the value in this race is looking beyond the predictable options for some better prices. 

My top pick is TIMBUKTU (#4). This colt handled dirt reasonably well when he tried it in that off the turf affair in October. He was facing a weaker field that day, and actually ran better than it might appear, chasing 3-wide against an inside bias. He made his first start off the claim for Michelle Nevin last time, and again put in a performance that isn’t as poor as the result might indicate. He battled on gamely for third in that Dec. 18 starter allowance, and multiple horses, including those who finished behind him, have returned to register improved speed figures in their subsequent starts. I like him cutting back to a mile and think he’s underrated as a dirt horse. 

I also want to give another chance to Son of an Ex (#9) at an even bigger price. His recent form leaves something to be desired, but there are reasons to take an optimistic view. He was simply overmatched when he made his return on Dec. 18 against open company. That was also a race that was dominated up front where closers had little chance to get involved. Then last time he didn’t get the best ride going 9 furlongs over a sloppy track. He now turns back to an appropriate distance in a race that is supposed to feature some pace. 

I would even include Uno (#11), who stretches back out in distance after returning in a sprint last time. He didn’t run that badly in that return to the NYRA circuit, and had previously run faster speed figures going longer at Finger Lakes.


WIN: #4 Timbuktu, at 6-1 or greater

USE: 9,11

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