Aqueduct Horses in Focus for Friday, February 24


Given the $400k purchase price and strong pedigree, it’s obviously not a great sign that Excess Demand (#4) is debuting for a tag. His dam is the excellent racemare Dance to Bristol, who reeled off a 7-race winning streak in 2013, culminating in the Grade 1 Ballerina. She’s produced two foals to race, both winners, topped by Grade 3 Nashua winner Rockefeller. Chad Brown is 2 for 16 (13%, $1.14 ROI) with first time starters in maiden claiming dirt races over 5 years, so there are obviously some red flags here. He can win, but I thought others would offer better value. Nieuwendyk (#5) makes some sense, but he’s had his chances and I was more intrigued by a couple of fresher faces. I’m not sure what to do with Ghostryder (#2). Two of his three starts have been pretty ugly, but he did show signs of life two back at Churchill when facing auction-restricted maidens. He ranged up at the quarter pole like he might issue a serious challenge before failing to sustain that bid. He’s getting needed class relief, and returns as a new gelding with Lasix. Those changes could help this leggy son of Arrogate, though it’s fair to wonder if dirt is really the right surface for him. He moves more like a turf horse, and he’s a half-brother to G3-placed turfer Take Charge Ro. My top pick is Cloud Music (#6). This gelding was facing a much better field when he debuted here just 13 days ago at the maiden special weight level. He displayed excellent early speed, contesting the pace before coming under heavy pressure on the far turn. He was beaten a long way, but only finished 7 lengths out of third-place, earning a solid 85 TimeformUS Speed Figure. Trainer James Chapman doesn’t have much success with firsters, but he is a decent 18 for 87 (21%, $1.60 ROI) with maiden second time starters in dirt sprints over 5 years. With Cloud Computing as his sire, I’m optimistic about the stretch-out and the price should be fair.


Save Grace (#2) had shown some promise for her prior connections, impressively breaking her maiden against claimers at Keeneland before putting in a game effort last time at Churchill when stepped up against winners. She’s now moving up in class to the starter allowance level, but isn’t catching the toughest field. The major question for her is the stretch-out, since she’s never raced beyond 7 furlongs. She’s bred to go this far and gives the impression she should handle it. Yet Mike Maker is just 5 for 32 (16%, $1.24 ROI) first off the claim going from sprints to routes on dirt over 5 years. I’m not against her, but I didn’t want to default to a favorite with things to prove. Sa Foradada (#1) seems like one of the main rivals as the stronger half of the JKX Racing entry. She’s settled for second in each of her starts on this circuit, but has arguably regressed since her first effort here in November. I want to go in a different direction. Seahorse d’Oro (#6)figures to get overlooked as she ships in from Parx. She’s a little light on speed figures compared to the two aforementioned runners, but she does appear to be heading in the right direction since getting claimed by Tyler Servis. She closed determinedly for third last time at a big price, beaten for the second time in a row by Princess Sophie, who was 5 for 9 at the time. This mare has run well on the circuit before and appears to building back up to another peak, on the heels of two improved workouts. Tyler Servis can win races on this circuit and usually sends live runners here. I also find it to be a good sign that she’s coming her to run in a protected spot, rather than offered up for a tag.

RACE 8: BABY MAN (#10)

I’m mildly skeptical of Glowsity (#1), who could vie for favoritism in this N1X allowance. She’s beat a fairly weak group of starter allowance foes last time in her first start on the circuit. She was a visually impressive winner by over 7 lengths, but she only earned a 99 TimeformUS Speed Figure, which makes just one of many contenders. I’m not sure she’s quite ready for this class test, though I am afraid of the connections. Among the favorites, I much prefer Spiked (#3). This filly may have found the 1 1/8 miles distance to be a bit too far for her last time. She took over in upper stretch and appeared to have the victory wrapped up before she got to drifting in the last furlong, which ultimately resulted in her disqualification. The slight turnback to a mile should suit her and she seems to be in strong form ever since John Terranova added blinkers two back. Suspended Campaign (#4) also makes some sense out of the Jan. 12 affair. She’s the one who got bumped by Spiked in deep stretch, forcing the inquiry. She wasn’t going to win that day, but she did seem to improve off the claim for Rudy Rodriguez. The one-turn mile figures to help her, as she generally does her best work when some pace develops up front. Pharoah’s Heart (#6) is another who could be running late, but she has to prove she can handle added ground. She tried route distances twice in California as a younger horse with mixed results. She ran well to be second to Crystal Ball in a two-turn mile race, but she was the beaten favorite. Her recent form leaves something to be desired, but it is worth noting that she got a poor trip two back at Churchill. I won’t be shocked if she improves here, though I have some reservations about her overall upside. My top pick is Baby Man (#10). She was soundly beaten by Spiked and Suspended Campaign last time, but 9 furlongs has always been too far for her. I like her turning back, and she has run some speed figures that make her competitive here. She’s also drawn well outside of some of her main pace rivals. Yet the most appealing thing about her is that she’s making her first start off the claim for Tom Morley. This barn is 20 for 112 (18%, $2.69 ROI) first off the claim in general, and Morley is 8 for 25 (32%, $3.69 ROI) off the claim for Flying P Stable. Jose Gomez knows this filly well and the addition of blinkers suggests that the plan is to use her speed.

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