Aqueduct Horses in Focus for Friday, March 3


The lone 4-year-old in the field, Midnight Express (#1) is facing off against five younger rivals, to whom he is giving away at least 8 pounds each. He is also stepping back up to the $40k maiden claiming level after a couple of tries for the lower price tag. He’s run well in each of his last two starts and has form that makes him a contender here, but he lacks some upside for a horse who could go favored in this kind of race. West Star (#4) is a little more appealing to me among the short prices. He ran deceptively well two back when making a wide rally for second behind runaway winner Mama’s Gold on a day when the rail was an advantage. Third-place finisher Camm’ Duke returned to win his next start impressively. West Star came back just 8 days later, dropping in for $25k, to again finished second, this time much closer after getting outdueled to the wire. He’s making his first start off the claim for a low-profile barn, but that may just help the price a bit. Wonker Warrior (#5) and Incantation (#6) are also worth considering, but the former did his best running after the wire last time, and the latter hasn’t been competitive in two starts, though both came against far tougher company. I just want to get a little more creative with Connect the Brocks (#2), who will be a better price. This leggy chestnut wanted no part of sprint distances in his first couple of starts. He was just hitting his stride at the end of that Finger Lakes debut and was then never involved against a tougher field in his second start. He got needed class relief last time when dropping to this level and stretching out. He lost some ground after halfway but kept plugging away, and was staying on best of all at the end. That wasn’t the strongest field, but he may have another step forward in him now that he adds Lasix. He has a nice pedigree, and physically has a decent frame to grow into. 


This starter optional claimer is one of the more competitive races of the day, as you can build a case for every horse in this field. The one to beat, and likely favorite, is Howzyourcashflow (#3), who will try to prove that her 9-length debut triumph was no fluke. She was risked for a $20k tag that day but ran like a horse that could have won a maiden special weight race. She was entered again and got scratched by the vet just 10 days later, and now she returns in a slightly easier spot. She will beat this field if she builds on her debut, but she isn’t the easiest type to trust. Will Be Famous (#1) finished a distant second to the favorite in that Jan. 12 affair, and came right back to break her maiden a month later, improving her speed figure. She has discovered newfound speedy tactics in her recent races, laying down aggressive fractions on the front end, daring anyone to go with her. Her presence could work against others who want to show speed in this race, including horses like Grace and Charm (#2) and Curlins Choir (#6). It’s also possible that Lockbox (#7) could be negatively affected by so much speed in this field, but at least she’s drawn outside of all those rivals. This filly strikes me as one that can adapt to racing from just off the pace, and Eric Cancel seems likely to try out those tactics here. She’s also just getting needed class relief after facing better fields in all of her recent starts. She was no match for the stakes-quality Downtown Mischief last time in a race where she didn’t get the best ride, tentatively ridden behind a slow early pace. Prior to that she was game to hang on for third in a Dec. 4 race at the same level. Now she’s in a softer spot racing for the $50k tag and she figures to be a square price. Ralph D’Alessandro seems to win a few races here every winter and his horses usually outrun their odds.


The chief question to be answered in this final is whether or not you trust likely favorite Quick Tempo (#9) as he ships in from out of town. This speedy 5-year-old has earned TimeformUS Speed Figures that would crush this field, achieving a high of 118 first off the claim for his former connections on New Year’s Eve last year. However, his form has declined a bit since then, and he’s been privately sold, now back with former trainer Kieron Magee, who offered him up for an $8,000 tag just last October. He’s obviously running here to get claimed again, despite the fact that he’s running numbers that would seemingly make him competitive at higher levels. He also lands in a spot that features plenty of other early speed. Heir Port (#4) in particular seems like one that has to go forward from the gate. He’s done his best running on the front end, and they took that weapon away last time when he tried a tougher field at the optional claiming level. Now David Jacobson is getting more realistic, dropping him in for this $16k tag. He’s a contender, but I was more interested in horses who could rally from off the pace. Dee Boo (#10) may be a little light on speed figures compared to some others, but he did seem to show slight improvement first off the claim for Natalia Lynch last time. They just chose an ambitious spot for him, against New York-bred allowance company, but he actually ran better in that race than he had in his claiming win prior to it. Lynch can be dangerous at these levels and it’s a good sign that Dylan Davis climbs back aboard. My top pick is F F Rocket (#2). This 6-year-old has plenty of races that put him in the mix. Some might be deterred by his recent form, but he might not have cared for wet tracks two and three back. He rebounded last time in a tougher spot, but just couldn’t make much of a late run into some very slow fractions. He figures to get more pace ahead of him this time and the slight drop in class will help. He also goes out for a trainer, Lolita Shivmangal, who generally makes the most of the horses that she gets into her barn, especially when they’re placed competitively.

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