Analysis, Selections, and Tickets: Aqueduct and Del Mar (11/18/17)

I really like the Saturday cards at Aqueduct and Del Mar. I find the multi-race sequences at both tracks very challenging, and if you hit, I think you’ll be rewarded handsomely.

One quick note: Next week, I’ll be in Las Vegas for Thanksgiving/my 29th birthday, and I’ll be writing a few articles from there for this site with racing and sports bets, as well as any amusing anecdotes I may have from my travels. If you’re looking for stuff that’s sordid, that won’t be my speed. I’m happily taken, so I don’t do clubs, I don’t do pools, and I certainly do not interact with the people outside of casinos whipping cards around. I’m an old-school degenerate who believes in things like the blackjack grandfather clause, all-you-can-eat buffets (especially when someone else is paying; hi, Dad!), meeting random groups of outgoing people in sports books, and (best of all) backdoor covers. If any or all of that intrigues you, chances are you’ll like what I’ll be posting.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at Aqueduct and Del Mar, and try to get some seed money for the trip!

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$0.50 Pick Five: Race #1

R1: 1,2,4,5
R2: 6
R3: 4
R5: 6,9

80 Bets, $40

We start off the Saturday card at Aqueduct with a tricky claiming event. I’m going four-deep, and I hope that’s enough. I’m most intrigued by #4 HARDLY MATE, who came from way back last time out to win going away in her first start with Lasix. Yes, it took a class drop to get her into the winner’s circle, but she ran into at least two next-out winners two back, and there’s reason to believe she’s getting better with experience.

I’ve got two straight singles in the second and third legs. #6 GANGBUSTERS ships up to New York for the second race, and I like her a lot. She’s raced very wide in each of her last two outings, and it’s not like this is a stellar field. #5 LADY BY CHOICE is the 7/5 favorite, but she goes to a lower-percentage barn and drops down in class. I think that’s a favorite you should try to beat, and that’s what I’m trying to do.

My third-leg single will be a popular one. #4 SCHIVARELLI makes his first start off the claim for Rudy Rodriguez following a race where he had a strange trip. At one point, he was six-wide in a seven-horse field, and he was still beaten less than two lengths. His usual race would make him very difficult to beat, and given my approach to the fourth race, I had to take another stand somewhere.

That fourth race, for my money, is the toughest race on Saturday’s Aqueduct program. It’s an incredibly competitive turf event, and I didn’t have a clue. Thanks to my two singles, I can buy the race, so if we get through my cold double, we’ll be one leg away from cashing.

The fifth race is a turf sprint for New York-breds, and I went two-deep to finish things out. #9 MISSION COMMAND took to the turf well last time out, running away with a claiming race at Belmont. Javier Castellano rides back, and I’m using him, but my top pick is actually #6 PSYCHIC ENERGY, who probably found seven furlongs a bit too long last time out. His four races before that effort were all quite good, and in those races, he beat several horses that also show up in this spot. Hopefully, he can win and get this ticket home at a bit of a price.

$0.50 Pick Four: Race #6

R6: 4,5,6,9,11
R7: 6,7
R8: 5,9
R9: 4,10,12,13

80 Bets, $40

I did not think this was an easy sequence. The bookends of this sequence could go any number of different ways, and if you’ve got deeper pockets or a mid-sequence single, the “ALL” button may be your friend.

The sixth is a maiden event on the turf, and a number of these exit the same few races. #9 UNLEVERAGED will likely be favored in his debut for Chad Brown, but I thought there were others in here with big chances. Of note, #11 WICKED TRICK ran really well at bonkers odds in his debut at Kentucky Downs and was the victim of a surface switch last time out in the Grade 3 Bourbon at Keeneland. He’s 10-1 on the morning line, and that seems like way too big a price.

I’m using the two favorites in the two middle legs. I prefer #6 SCARLY CHARLY over #7 WILL DID IT in the seventh, largely due to the class drop and the switch to Joel Rosario. Meanwhile, in the eighth (the Artie Schiller), I think the only entrant that can beat #9 DELTA PRINCE is #5 BLACKTYPE, who seeks his third consecutive victory.

That brings us to the finale, which boasts a field of 14 maidens. #13 MISS HOT STONES seems logical on paper, but she was beaten at 1/2 at this level last time out. Maybe she’s just better than these, and I’m using her, but I can’t back her with any enthusiasm. The first-time starter that most intrigues me is #12 QUEENOFEVERYTHING, who’s been working very well at Saratoga and attracts Jose Ortiz. If Miss Hot Stones does not fire, it’s anyone’s race, and the works lead me to believe this daughter of Pomeroy could have some talent.

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$0.50 Pick Five: Race #1

R1: 1,2,3,9
R3: 3
R4: 8
R5: 2,3

64 Bets, $32

Right off the bat, I’m going against a likely favorite. That’s #4 LITTLE JUANITO, who’s made a career out of collecting minor checks. He’s had chances, he’s taken money, and at this point, I’m going to try to beat him. The three horses to his inside will all get some play, but #9 DRAMATIC VICTORY is my price play at 20-1. She runs against the boys here and showed speed in her debut down the hill. She faded, but Kent Desormeaux did not persevere with her when he knew she was beaten. Here, she gets top gate rider Edwin Maldonado, and she may be the one they’ve got to catch turning for home.

If we get the likely favorite beat in the opener, we’ll be two-fifths of the way home. I found the second race fascinating, and I needed maximum coverage. None of the eight entrants would be a shock, so I’m sitting back and hoping for a price.

Like at Aqueduct, I’ve got a cold double on my Pick Five ticket. My first single may be the shortest-priced favorite of the day. That’s #3 HELEN’S TIGER, who drops in for a tag and has back form. Anything close to her race two back would make her incredibly difficult to beat, and even her race three back would probably be good enough. If you can forgive the last-out clunker, which may have just been a bounce, she looks tough.

The fourth is a grass grab bag, and I’m taking a stand with #8 JERSEY’S HEAT. He improved considerably at second asking, and despite some trouble negotiating the dirt crossing, he rallied for third and earned a 67 Beyer Speed Figure. A repeat is probably good enough to win in this spot, which doesn’t feature many other horses with proven turf form. If he doesn’t win, I don’t know who does.

The payoff leg is the Saturday feature at Del Mar. It’s the $100,000 Desi Arnaz, and I’m taking a stand against another likely favorite. #6 DREAM TREE was all-out at 4/5 last time out, and while she could improve, the Bob Baffert barn is ice-cold this meet, and I’ll look elsewhere. #2 MS BAD BEHAVIOR chased two top-class fillies in her first two starts before breaking through last time out, and in that race, she overcame some trouble, which is encouraging. I’ll also use #3 MIDNIGHT BISOU, who nearly caught Dream Tree in her debut and attracts Rafael Bejarano.

$0.50 Pick Four: Race #6

R6: 1,3,6,7,9
R7: 4,5
R8: 3,4,8,9
R9: 1,8

80 Bets, $40

Yep, another Pick Four ticket with no singles. I think you need lots of coverage, and nowhere is that more evident than in the sixth. This is a wide-open turf sprint, and I’ve gone five-deep. I’m most intrigued by #7 BOWIE, who almost definitely needed her last race off a long layoff and figures to be the main speed in this spot. She could easily take a leap forward for Richard Mandella, and if she does, she could start off the sequence at a price.

I’ll use the two favorites in the seventh, a confusing starter allowance with many horses that have not won in a while. #4 PARTY HOSTESS just missed last time out and runs for red-hot trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, while #5 GO ON MARY has significant back class and lost all chance at the break last time out.

We go back to the turf for the eighth race, and while #4 RADIO SILENCE may be the buzz horse, I don’t think he’s unbeatable. There isn’t much quality speed signed on, and that could bode well for #3 FLY TO MARS, who cruised home in his turf debut and could get first run at the tiring pace-setters around the far turn.

Finally, I’ll use the bookends in the Saturday finale. #1 BRADDOCK generally runs the same race every time out, while #8 MAKE IT A TRIPLE loves Del Mar and is wheeled right back by trainer Mike Machowsky, who has quietly had a very strong year (he’s hitting at 20%).

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