Photo: Eclipse Sportswire - Sue Kawczynski
Race 8 – The Bay
MB - I am kicking things off by going
all in right off the bat with Kobe's Back. He is turning back to seven panels after a tough go of it in the
Rebel where he was off slowly, really wide into the first turn while rank, and
overall just never looking comfortable. He owns a smashing victory at today’s
distance which came in his first start of the year in the grade 2 San Vicente
and I expect him to be cruising by late. Others I considered using were Coup de Grace, Favorite Tale, and Financial Mogul, in that order. I was torn at first on Bob Baffert’s trainee The Admiral, but after watching his
races I just wasn’t that impressed and do not think the pace is in his favor.
Kobe’s Back or bust for me.
MS - I find this race to be the most
wide-open in the sequence. Many of these talented three year-olds will be
trying the seven furlong distance for the first time. Accordingly, I will be
going five deep hoping to both stay alive and with the hope of hitting a decent
price. The money in this first leg of the Pick 4 should be spread out quite a
bit. Oliver Zip has improved in
every one of his five starts with the last four at Aqueduct. Financial Mogul
ran well in the Gotham and now cuts back to the distance of his maiden victory.
The talented Coup de Grace returns to the races and Chad Brown is a master with
fresh horses. Favorite Tale comes blazing from Parx with the highest BSF in the
field. He is unbeaten in three starts, each better than the one before. Kobe’s
Back is the likely favorite and deservedly so. I am a bit put off by all of the
travel, but to be safe I will use him, also.
MB: single 8 MS: 2,
3, 4, 6, 8
Race 9 – The Gazelle
MB - Nothing clever from me here. I
trust absolutely none of these fillies at nine furlongs so I am going to hit
the ALL button and hope to catch a price. They all have positives and negatives
and I just couldn’t get a confident grasp on this race. I will sit back and
relax and root for a bomb to blow up the tote.
MS - My Miss Sophia may just be in front all the way
around the track. This Pletcher filly cuts back from a mile and has a great
chance to control the race right out of the gate. I am not going to get beat by
the other Pletcher either. Got Lucky loves Aqueduct, gets Johnny V. back, and has finished second behind Untapable
and Stopchargingmaria. Sweet Reason has a big class edge on
this field and we know she will be running at the end of the nine furlongs.
MB: ALL MS: 2, 3,
10 – The Wood
Please note that Kid Cruz has been scratched due to a shoulder strain.
MB - First things first, let’s address
the freak of the field, Social Inclusion.
When you look at him on paper, that 111 Beyer just jumps up and smacks you in
the face. He is a perfect 2/2 and has absolutely romped in those scores. I must
admit though I am skeptical and as a result I will be playing against him. The
way I look at him is that he has gotten everything his own way in those
victories. In his maiden breaker the track was biased and in his allowance
score he had a very, very lonely lead. He breaks widest of all today and will
get no free pass up front. Even if he broke from the inside I would be against
him. I must admit though, if he wins this from that post, he may be a freak and
I wouldn’t be mad if he knocked me out at all. I would tip my hat to him and
jump on his bandwagon heading for Louisville.
Now that that’s out of the way let me talk about the pair
that I landed on, Wicked Strong and Samraat. At 15/1 on the morning line
Wicked Strong deserves another shot in my opinion. I am glad they got him out
of Florida because it did not seem to agree with him at all. In his 2014 bow in
the Holy Bull, he was agitated pre-race and was never involved in the actual
running. I am going to draw a line through that one. In his next start in a
tough allowance on February 22nd at Gulfstream, he was running
against a bias towards frontrunners that day and still closed pretty well. He
gets reunited with Rajiv Maragh today, a jock for whom he responded well in the
Remsen, and gets a nice inside draw as well. It’s now or never for this colt
and I hope he rewards me for my loyalty.
As for Samraat,
his record speaks for itself. He has answered every call and keeps grinding out
wins. He should be able to sit a nice trip today and he will be coming with his
run down lane. He very well may roll into Kentucky unblemished.
MS - I have already said in my Wood Preview that I will not discount
Samraat again. He was such an impressive looking horse in the Gotham paddock
and he has not done anything wrong in his career. There is no way that I can
leave Social Inclusion out. The 11 post position should allow him to get right
to the lead and give him a chance to show just how good he is. I want to give Wicked Strong a chance to show
his best stuff on the Aqueduct main track. If the pace setters collapse he
could be the horse that comes running at the end.
MB: 2, 8 MS: 2, 8,
11 – The Carter
MB - This is a fun race with a lot of
cool horses in it. If I am alive in the Pick 4 it will be to Central Banker, Clearly Now, Golden Ticket,
and Sahara Sky. Central Banker is
coming into this off of a layoff and has been working well. I do worry about
him breaking from the one hole a little bit, but if anyone can give him a good
ride out of there it’s his pilot for today, Johnny V. Clearly Now also enters
off of a layoff after last being seen in the grade 1 Cigar Mile at the end of
November. In my opinion, if he did not clip heels entering the stretch that day
he very well could be a grade 1 winner today. He is my top choice in here.
Golden Ticket comes into this after running a very nice 2nd to
Palace Malice in the grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap in his first race of the
year. He broke from the rail that day and gets a better post for today. And
last but certainly not least, Sahara Sky is coming in off of a nice win in the
grade 2 San Carlos where he overcame the one hole. I am not positive he is as
good as he was last year, but I respect him too much to leave him off of the
ticket. He has been one of, if not the top one turn horse the last two years
and Jerry Hollendorfer doesn’t just ship for nothing. This one should be primed
for a top effort third off of the layoff.
MS - Clearly Now and Central Banker
are getting a lot of buzz, but I don’t like them coming of their significant
layoffs, not in a tough grade one like this. Golden Ticket’s 2014 return was a
head loss to Palace Malice in the Gulfstream Park Handicap. Don’t forget his
huge effort in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. Sahara Sky loves the distance and
Hollendorfer knows how to ship this guy east to run big races. I have to
include Strapping Groom because I have been beaten out of a few horizontal
wagers after I omitted a Jacobson/Drawing Away runner.
MB: 1, 2, 3, 6 MS: 3, 5,
Here are our Pick 4 tickets. Enjoy a great day of racing at the Big A and good luck!