Aqueduct Horses in Focus for Saturday, March 18


Hot Fudge (#2) makes some sense here as she returns for her second start off a layoff. She got the job done last time, but the runner-up arguably ran a better race after overcoming a poor beginning. This filly sat a perfect trip from her outside post position and capitalized. This time the waters get deeper and she figures to be a short price. Among the favorites, I actually prefer Leeloo (#4). She was forced to use her speed and set an honest pace last time, given that she drew inside of other speeds. This time I imagine that Kendrick Carmouche and the connections will change up the tactics. She can deliver a solid finish when she’s properly rated, and her best speed figures suggest she might have the edge. My top pick is Linda Rice’s other runner Customerexperience (#3). Some might dismiss this mare as being a little cheaper than this group, but she’s run races that make her competitive here in the past. I like the way she’s finished in her last couple of starts, and I’m encouraged to see that Linda Rice is raising her in class and protecting her off the claim. That’s usually a good sign for this barn. There’s also a real possibility that she’ll get some pace to close into with speeds like Hey Mamaluke and Unsolved Mystery in here. I expect that the public will bet the other Rice runner and I don’t think this one is that much less likely to win.


Loose Goose (#7) will be a prohibitive favorite as he drops in for a tag for the first time in his career. Todd Pletcher actually has good stats with this move, as he is 14 for 50 (28%, $1.94 ROI) with non-maidens making their first starts for a tag on dirt over the past 5 years. Though those numbers drop to 3 for 16 (19%, $1.02 ROI) specifically at Aqueduct. This horse hasn’t been competitive in his last couple of starts, but both of those came against much tougher company. He was hard-ridden on the turn in his last race before Franco gave up once it was clear he wasn’t responding in the stretch. He’s the most likely winner, but I do think he faces one rival that could give him a challenge. Frenchboro (#6) goes out for trainer Alan Bedard, who has shipped some very live runners to Aqueduct this winter. He’s won 4 races here, including 57-1 and 13-1 upsets by Johnny Quist, and a 27-1 upset by Cairo Sugar in a stakes. This horse has made just two starts for the barn, both at Parx against starter allowance company. He faced some good rivals two back, as that is a race that horses have returned from to improve. He put in a solid bid to challenge in mid-stretch before flattening out. I think this turnback to a one-turn mile will suit him and he picks up Dylan Davis. 


I have no argument against Ouster (#1A) being the most likely winner of this race. However, he figures to be an awfully short price as part of a coupled entry with Full Moon Fever. I much prefer Ouster of these two, but entries just tend to be underlays so I’m hesitant to endorse him given the expected price. While his last TimeformUS Speed Figure of 116 would be good enough to win many races at this level, there are other horses in here who have run similarly fast numbers. Ouster is also a horse who doesn’t possess that much early speed, and I don’t see a ton of pace in this race. For that reason, my top pick is Sundaeswithsandy (#2). This horse earned a 117 TimeformUS Speed Figure for his recent victory going this distance. The problem is that he achieved that number against $25k claimers. Yet I wouldn’t be so quick to just dismiss that as some fluke. The speed figure has held up for most of the runbacks out of that race. He had also shown hints of that kind of ability when he won against N1X allowance horses back in November. This gelding is most comfortable when he can be forwardly placed, and I expect him to get an aggressive ride from the apprentice Jaime Torres. Some may also question the trainer switch to Jamie Begg off the claim, but this barn has been having a good meet so far and is protecting this horse from being claimed. At a potentially bigger price I could also use Listentoyourheart (#3). The distance is a question for him, since he faded in his lone prior route attempt. Yet he ran well to just miss at this level last time after chasing a fast pace. He appears to be in solid form for Ray Handal since returning from a layoff and should sit a good trip just off my top pick. 

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