We'll head to Aqueduct today, where there should be fine late fall weather. We're expecting fast dirt and firm turf. Let's go.
Aqueduct, Race 2, 12:49 pm ET
$35,000 Claiming, 5 1/2 furlongs, turf, 3 & Up
A full field of 12 goes in this claiming turf sprint, and we are going to use this as an illustration of what we consider a negative class drop. The top two morning line choices, 5/2 favorite 7-Readyforprimetime and 6-No Bang No Boom, trained by Linda Rice and Wesley Ward respectively, both drop into the claiming ranks from allowance company, where they have been running fairly well. The morning line oddsmaker at Aqueduct has tabbed them as the top two contenders primarily because of this. Both Rice and Ward are high-percentage trainers, which means they know where to place their horses: a trainer doesn't win at a 24% (Ward) or 22% (Rice) clip by placing horses in races they cannot win.
Despite that, we have reservations about both: Readyforprimetime was purchased in September of 2017, just over two years ago, for $220,000, out of a stallion, More Than Ready, who has an $80,000 stud fee. As a gelding, No Bang No Boom has no potential stud value, but he is nevertheless by No Nay Never, one of the top turf stallions in the world, who will stand for 150,000 Euros, over $165,000, next year. Both are only three years old, and both would seem to have quite a bit of value -- but they're both for sale in this race for a mere $35,000.
We look at the fact that there is a giant "FOR SALE" sign on both of these horses as a very negative sign. Either may win the race, but that both trainers are willing to part with both of these runners is a sign to us to look elsewhere, parimutelly speaking.
We like 3-Fooch, who somewhat ironically is also trained by Wesley Ward. Unlike his stablemate, a $35,000 claiming tag is not alarming for Fooch: he is a much more modestly-bred horse, he broke his maiden in a $40k claming race, and he's also five years old, which means he has fewer years of racing in front of him. He fits on form as well: his last four races have all been good, and his stalking style is a fit for turf races at this distance. We will play against the two favorites, and will bet Fooch at 9/2. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 2, $30 to win on 3-Fooch.
Aqueduct, Race 4, 1:47 pm ET
Maiden Special Weight, 1 mile, turf, New York-bred Fillies & Mares 3 & Up
A field of nine goes here, and we like a horse at a price, 8-A Bridge too Far, who's trained by Mark Casse. She has one career start, a 9th-place finish in a maiden race at Gulfstream Park in February, but there are reasons to like her here in spite of that dull effort. The primary one for us is that her first race was against open company, and those races, filled primarily with horses bred in Kentucky, are difficult to win. Against state-bred company today, we think she will find the much shallower waters much more hospitable. Casse also has good stats with horses coming off a layoff, and making their second career starts. At 8-1, we think she merits a play, and will bet her to win. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 4, $25 to win on 8-A Bridge too Far.
Aqueduct, Race 8, 3:47 pm ET
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 7 furlongs, dirt, 3 & Up
Seven drew into this one, a dirt sprint for allowance and higher-level claiming horses. The headliner, and one of the three entrants not eligible to be claimed, is 3-Complexity, who is trained by Chad Brown and who looked like a star last year after he won a high-profile maiden race at Saratoga, and followed that up with a very impressive win in the Champagne Stakes. He ran very fast in both of these wins, went off at 5/2 in last year's Breeders Cup Juvenile, but what has happened since then is nothing short of disastrous: he finished 10th in the Juvenile, and then, after a long rest, finished last of 11 in a allowance race at Belmont Park. He comes into this race off a layoff, having not run since that Belmont race, which was in June of this year.
We are willing to excuse both of those races, and think he's a standout here. He is a speed horse, and in each of his last two, the track was biased against front-runners, but we think that he will bounce back on the much more speed-friendly surface at the Big A. There's some other speed in this race, so we see him getting a good stalking trip, and seizing control of the race down the stretch. We will bet him to win at 6/5. The bet: Aqueduct, Race 8, $50 to win on 3-Complexity.
That's all for today. Good luck at the windows.