Prospect Watch: 4 promising juveniles debut at Aqueduct

Prospect Watch: 4 promising juveniles debut at Aqueduct
Photo: NYRA

Saturday is going to be a big day for racing at Aqueduct, where four stakes – including the Grade 1 Cigar Mile – are slated to be run.

But one of the most intriguing races of the afternoon is the opener, a maiden special weight for juveniles featuring a quartet of promising first-time starters. I highlight all four as part of this week’s Prospect Watch.

Aqueduct Race 1: Maiden special weight (seven furlongs, 11:50 a.m. EST)

No. 3 Opportunity Set

Pedigree: Classic Empire–Super Divine, by Divine Park

Purchase price: $225,000

Trainer: Chad Brown

Four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown is set to saddle Opportunity Set, a son of champion juvenile Classic Empire. Considering Classic Empire sires 28 percent winners from first-time starters, it is reasonable to believe Opportunity Set can produce a competitive effort on debut.

Opportunity Set has conducted much of his pre-race training at Monmouth Park, but his last three workouts (including a half-mile from the starting gate in 49.8 seconds) have come at Belmont Park. Hot jockey Joel Rosario (a 38 percent winner when teaming up with Brown) is named to ride, stamping Opportunity Set as a promising prospect.

No. 4 Bold Honor

Pedigree: Honor Code–Beautiful Bliss, by Limehouse

Purchase price: $32,000

Trainer: Rob Atras

Rob Atras has been hot at Aqueduct this meet, compiling an excellent 20: 6-1-5 (30 percent) resume. Just as important, Atras has won at a solid 18 percent rate with first-time starters this season, so don’t dismiss Bold Honor as a contender in this deep field.

A son of champion Honor Code, who matured early enough to win the Remsen (G2) at Aqueduct as a juvenile, Bold Honor sold for only $32,000 earlier this year. But he has put together a steady work tab in preparation for his debut, breezing 10 times at Belmont since mid-September, so fitness shouldn’t be much of a concern. We’ll get a feel for his ability level on Saturday.

No. 6 Braille

Pedigree: Quality Road–Texting, by Candy Ride

Purchase price: N/A

Trainer: Shug McGaughey

Although Braille is a January foal, he is not guaranteed to be an early-maturing type. Sire Quality Road didn’t peak until age 4, when he won a trio of Grade 1 races, and dam Texting secured her signature victory in the La Prevoyante Handicap (G3) at age 5.

But on the other hand, perhaps Braille can outrun expectations in his debut under colors. He has put together a long work tab highlighted by a quick half-mile from the Belmont Park starting gate in 48.6 seconds last month, and trainer Shug McGaughey has won at a higher-than-normal 17 percent rate with first-time starters this year. Throw in the fact McGaughey has gone 6-for-20 (30 percent) at Aqueduct this fall, and Braille canot be counted out of the mix.

No. 7 Long Term

Pedigree: Curlin–Savings Account, by Medaglia d’Oro

Purchase price: N/A

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Talk about a stoutly bred colt. Long Term is a son of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin out of Savings Account, a Medaglia d’Oro mare who placed at the Grade 1 level racing 1 1/16 miles. Both Curlin and Medaglia d’Oro are noteworthy stamina influences at stud, so Long Term is bred top and bottom to excel over classic distances.

A Repole Stable homebred, Long Term has turned in sharp workouts under the care of two-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Todd Pletcher, including five furlongs from the Belmont Park starting gate in 1:00.8. Hot jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. (a 29 percent winner at Aqueduct this meet) takes the mount, arguably cementing Long Term as the horse to beat on Saturday.

Los Alamitos Race 1: Maiden Special Weight (one mile, 3:30 p.m.)

No. 4 Egomania

Pedigree: Candy Ride–Northern Station, by Street Cry

Purchase price: $200,000

Trainer: Simon Callaghan

Did you know trainer Simon Callaghan wins at a solid 20 percent rate with first-time starters? This stat suggests Egomania is worth respecting in his debut at Los Alamitos, even though the son of Candy Ride is debuting against experienced rivals in a two-turn mile.

From a pedigree perspective, there is a lot to like about Egomania. He is bred to run long, and half-brother Barbados broke his maiden at age 2 before winning multiple stakes (including a Grade 3) in January of his 3-year-old season. In other words, Egomania has the potential to win from an early age. Stablemate Sir London is probably the more likely winner on Saturday, but perhaps Egomania can snatch a trifecta finish at fair odds.

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