As we inch toward the weekend, most of the major tracks are back in action today. We've handicapped the card at Aqueduct in New York, where the weather should be good for winter racing. We expect fast dirt at the Big A today; let's go.
Aqueduct, Race 1, 1:20 pm ET
Maiden Special Weight, 6 furlongs, Dirt, New York-Bred Fillies & Mares 4 & Up
Aqueduct, Race 2, 1:51 pm ET
$32,000 Claiming, 1 Mile, Dirt, 4 & Up
Aqueduct, Race 3, 2:25 pm ET
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 6 furlongs, Dirt, New York-Bred 3-Year-Olds
Aqueduct, Race 4, 2:55 pm ET
Maiden Special Weight, 1 Mile, Dirt, New York-Breds 4 & Up
Aqueduct, Race 5, 3:25 pm ET
Allowance/Optional Claiming, 6 Furlongs, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up
There are eight races in Ozone Park today, and six of them have morning line favorites at 8/5 or less (and in the other two, the favorite is 2-1). The card has the potential to be a chalkfest -- though by saying that out loud, we've probably guaranteed a parade of inscrutable favorites.
There are two ways to fight the prevalence of horses who figure to win races at short odds. The first is to fight it, to bet against the chalk. The second is to use gimmick bets to enhance the odds of these favorites. We have lumped the first five races on the Aqueduct card together because we are going for the latter approach today: we're going to play the early Pick 5, the early Pick 4, and throw in a couple of Pick 3s as well. We are doing this to try to squeeze a few shekels out of what look to be pretty formful results. Here is the rundown of the individual races:
Here is the rundown of the individual races:
Race 1: 1-Enough Love (8/5) and 6-Midnight Banker (7/5) tower over the rest of these state-bred maidens. One of them will win. We slightly favor Midnight Banker, but the edge is slight. We will include both on all tickets.
Race 2: 4-Siding Spring (8/5) has high speed, will control the pace, and has a good shot to win this $32,000 claimer in wire-to-wire fashion. If he doesn't win, 3-Royal Albert Hall (7/5) will: he is dropping class, and has never run a bad race at Aqueduct's one-turn mile distance. We give the edge to Siding Spring, but there's not much to separate the two.
Race 3: This allowance/optional claimer looks on paper like another two-horse race: 1-Impetuous (8/5) earned a big figure in his last, a 4 1/2 length romp in a state-bred maiden race. If he runs back to that, he probably wins here. But that race was over a sloppy track ,and he may not do quite as well on the fast dirt he will get today. We actually prefer 4-Notorious Flirt (9/5), who is dropping into this allowance out of a state-bred stakes race, where he ran a good fourth. A win by any horse other than these two would be a pretty big surprise.
Race 4: 7-Dancers for Token (6/5) is what is known in speed handicapping circles as a triple fig: the speed figures he earned in each of his last three races are faster than any other runner has earned. Going by the figs, he looks pretty close to a cinch. The issues with him are his trainer, Robbie Davis, who was 1-for-42 in 2019 (3% win rate), and the fat that he is still a maiden, winless in seven tries. Because of that, we will include 3-Kingfish (3-1), who looks to be the best of the rest of the field, and 6-Clever Fellow (4-1), who is coming off a long layoff, having last run in January of 2019, but who is a well-bred 4-year-old colt and who trained by Chad Brown.
Race 5: 4-Our Circle of Love is the shortest-price favorite on the Aqueduct card today, at even money. She has by far the most early speed, and in a short field -- there are only five runners -- we think that is going to be an insuperable advantage. We are comfortable singling her.
We have two picks in the first three races, three in the fourth, and one in the fifth. We will play them in the multi-race bets, as follows:
Race 1, $1 Pick 5: 1,6 with 3,4 .with 1,4, with 3,6,7 with 4. This is a 2x2x2x3x1 ticket, which is 24 combinations. We will play it at the $2 level, for a total bet of $48.
Race 1: Pick 3: 1,6 with 3,4 with 1,4. This is 8 combinations; we will play it at the $1 level, for a total bet of $8.
Race 2: Pick 4: 3,4 with 1,4 with 3,6,7 with 4. There are 12 combinations in this sequence. We will play it for $2, so the bet will cost $24 ($12 x 2).
Race 2: Pick 3: 3,4 with 1,4 with 3,6,7. This is also 12 combinations; we'll play it for a buck, for a total wager of $12.
That's a total investment of $92 for these multi-race wagers. Those wishing to make smaller plays may easily do so: the Pick 3-4-5 bets at Aqueduct all have 50-cent minimums, so to lower the cost, just reduce the tickets proportionately. All that's left is to put in the tickets, grab a cold one, and root for a cavalcade of winning favorites.
That's all for today. We will be back on Saturday for a look at the national stakes action. Until then, good luck at the windows.