Aqueduct Horses in Focus for Sunday, April 18

RACE 2: SILKY BLUE (#5)

Gotta Go Mo is the horse to beat as she returns to New York for John Kimmel after making her last 5 career starts at Gulfstream. She took off most of the NYRA season last year after breaking her maiden at Gulfsream in April. She returned this year in an open company allowance race down in Florida and ran well to make it two in a row. She stalked a quick pace and took over in upper stretch, drawing off to win with authority. She’s obviously trained well since then, registering a series of quick workous down at Palm Meadows. She figures to be tough for these to handle as she moves back into New York-bred company, though she will have to negotiate 6 furlongs. She may be the speed of the speed, but she will have to face some pressure from the likes of Violent Point and Doll. I’m hoping that the early fractions are quick enough to setup the late run of Silky Blue. This filly ran well in most of her turf starts last year, maintaining strong form against winners after breaking her maiden at odds of 18-1 last June. She won off a layoff that day, so she should be ready following a freshening here. While her lone prior start at this level last November resulted in a fourth-place finish, she was compromised by a wide trip on a day when the rail was a significant advantage. She also probably doesn’t want to go that far, and should appreciate this turnback to 6 furlongs. She’s my top pick, and I’d use her with the aforementioned favorite, as well as the speedy Violent Point and fellow closer Dancingwthdaffodls.

RACE 5: SANCTUARY CITY (#3)

The Michael Dubb entry of Mo Maverick and Discretionary Marq could be the favored entity in this New York-bred N2X optional claimer. Mo Maverick has the stronger credentials of this pair, as he won at this level when racing for the $40k claiming tag last November over this course and distance. Since then he’s made a couple of starts at Gulfstream for Mike Maker, and he lost each time as the favorite. However, he got outrun going 5 furlongs, which is probably too short, and then last time was rated going two turns, which also isn’t the right trip for him. He’s getting back an appropriate distance, and the TimeformUS Pace Projector is predicting that he will be on the lead in a situation favoring the front-runner. I also don’t think that his stablemate Discretionary Marq is impossible. He once was competitive at this level in 2019, and his two efforts since the claim by Kelly Breen are solid enough. He never had a chance last time after getting squeezed back at he start and getting caught behind a wall of horses in the stretch. Plus, he also has good tactical speed. I’m concerned that this entry won’t offer sufficient value, but I won’t be surprised wen both run well. Big Package is the logical alternative as he returns from a layoff for Dave Donk. He showed real ability last year once they switched him back to turf, unleashing impressive late kicks to win an N1X allowance and just miss at this level in September. However, he has to overcome a layoff and lack of pace, and he figures to take more money with Irad Ortiz riding. I prefer Sanctuary City as an alternative. While most of this runner’s recent starts have come over longer distances, he has been successful sprinting in the past. He displayed a nice turn of foot when he won going this distance at Belmont last year, and he subsequently improved over the summer and fall. He has a right to move forward in his 4-year-old debut, and I think Kendrick Carmouche will take advantage of what tactical speed he does possess.

RACE 8: OYSTER BOX (#5)

The uncoupled Chad Brown pair of Fluffy Socks and Ingrassia are likely to vie for favoritism in this competitive Memories of Silver. They faced off last fall in the Chelsey Flower at Belmont, which was run over a boggy turf course. Ingrassia just got the better of her stablemate that day, as Fluffy Socks drifted out under Irad Ortiz in upper stretch before just losing in a duel to the wire. Both handled the difficult conditions without issue, yet also have shown strong form on firmer turf. Ingrassia seemingly possesses more upside in just her fourth career start. She displayed a nice turn of foot to break her maiden in her debut at Saratoga and then didn’t get the best trip behind Breeders’ Cup winner Aunt Pearl in the Jessamine. I slightly prefer her to Fluffy Socks, who got a great ride from Irad when she won the Jimmy Durante in her juvenile finale. They both make plenty of sense, but I prefer a runner with more recency. Oyster Box may be getting some minor class relief after facing a solid field in the Grade 3 Florida Oaks last time. She was outrun in the early stages of that race and couldn’t go with winner Domain Expertise when that one launced her move on the far turn. Yet she stayed on willingly in the stretch and was finishing nicely at the end. That race was flattered when runner-up Jouster returned to win the Grade 3 Appalachian at Keeneland. While Oyster Box was beating weaker company in her first couple of starts, I liked the way she won each of those races, getting some education under her belt. I think she can now move forward again, especially given her stamina-oriented pedigree. She figures to offer better value than the Chad Brown pair. I also wouldn’t totally discount the European import Bubbles on Ice. Christophe Clement has poor numbers with foreign shippers, but this filly showed some talent in the Group 1 Moyglare Stud last fall.

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