Aqueduct | Race 9 | Post Time 5:32 p.m. (ET)
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From a TimeformUS Speed Figure perspective, Refuah (#3) is a standout in this field. He has earned numbers ranging from 83 to 91 in his last four starts, and most of his rivals have struggled to ever run that fast. The problem is that he’s shown some aversion to winning races. This 11-start maiden has looked formidable on paper before and disappointed. He’s settled for second at short prices in each of his last two starts, and has been the runner-up in more than half of his career starts. Perhaps he’s just finally found a field he can’t help but defeat, but you’re going to have to swallow a pretty short price on a horse that has let down the bettors before.
Many handicappers will turn to Miracle Mike (#1) as the alternative. After all, he did earn a competitive 91 TimeformUS Speed Figure in his career debut last summer as a 2-year-old. The problem is that he rode a good rail on that occasion, racing over a sloppy track. His two subsequent starts on fast going have been poor, and he was concerningly dull off the layoff last time. He’s now stretching out to a mile for the first time, and distance should suit him. I’m just a little concerned that he’s never going to run back to that debut effort.
My top pick is OLYMPIC DREAMS (#8). This well-bred gelding showed nothing in his lone start last year, which came on turf. Yet he has since returned as an improved horse this year, switching into the barn of Pat Quick and moving to the main track. He showed some signs of life in his January return, overcoming a wide journey to stay on for fourth, 10 lengths behind Refuah. He got a little closer to that rival last time when improving to third at this level, making a mild move on the turn before again staying on best of all in the lane. He may appreciate finally getting on a fast track if the weather dries out by Sunday. He also has a chance to produce his best form yet as he meets a slightly weaker field, and makes his third start off the layoff.