Friday TimeformUS Highlight Horse: Giant’s Fire should appreciate switch to turf

Aqueduct | Race 6 | Post Time 4:02 p.m. (ET) | TimeformUS PPs are now available on Go to PPs 

It’s not often that you see a horse march right through its New York-bred conditions the way morning-line favorite Shutters (#7) has. It’s also worth noting that he’s compiled this win streak with gaps between starts, so the layoff into this race probably isn’t much of a concern, especially considering that he’s going out for one of the best layoff barns in the business. Shutters got a great trip last time, but he still unleashed an eye-catching turn of foot once steered into the clear. His 113 TimeformUS Speed Figure arguably makes him the horse to beat, and he might still have some upside in just his fifth career start. The main drawback is the likely short price, but I view him as the horse to beat.

Easter (#1) is the other runner who could take money returning from a layoff in this spot, and I have some more questions about him. He made his U.S. debut around this same time last year at Aqueduct, and put in a nice late run to get up for third in a race that didn’t feature much pace. He subsequently stretched out to marathon distances with decent results. He was a little overmatched in the G1 Man O’ War, and then couldn’t reel in the progressive Balthus when last seen in June. He now returns from another layoff, turning back to a mile, but I wonder if he’s using this as a prep for something longer. His lack of speed might also compromise him in a race that doesn’t feature a clear pace scenario.

I’m most interested in a couple of alternatives who can be forwardly placed. So High (#4) has arguably been in better form at different times in the past, but he’s also been known to wake up with competitive efforts from time to time. He outran his odds when second in a similar spot at this track last April, beating Easter. He has only been seen twice since then earlier this year, not running quite as well. Yet his tactical speed should play better here on the turnback in distance, and he often gets overlooked in the wagering.

My top pick is GIANT’S FIRE (#3), who will be making his turf debut. This expensive colt just hasn’t quite panned out on dirt, but he has shown some hints of ability at times. I think the switch to turf can help bring out his full potential. Gun Runner has not been a great turf influence, getting just 5% winners from grass starts. Yet there is ample turf breeding on the dam’s side of this pedigree. The dam herself was unraced, but she is a half-sister to some European turf horses, including Group 2 Ribblesdale winner Princess Highway and Group 1 Irish St. Leger winner Royal Diamond. Furthermore, this colt’s second dam is Irresistible Jewel, who also won the Ribblesdale. John Terranova is 3 for 9 (33%, $8.73 ROI) with non-maidens trying turf for the first time, and the price should be fair.

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