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There will be no Breeders’ Cup hangover on this page. One week removed from all the glamor and glitz of the World Championships at Santa Anita, we get back to the nuts and bolts of betting on the horses with a Saturday afternoon card in New York.
Headlined by the Grade 2 Red Smith and supported by the Grade 3 Pebbles Stakes, Aqueduct brings a solid day of racing, with plenty of wagering opportunities. Without further ado, let’s get right into the excellent card and my favorite wagers of the day.
Second in two consecutive Grade 1 races, Soldier Rising will look to get over the hump when he headlines a wide open and overflow field of older turf males entered in Saturday’s Grade 2 Red Smith Stakes at Aqueduct.
A 5-year-old son of Frankel, the likely race favorite has actually finished second in four of his five starts this year. Each of his runner-up finishes this year for trainer Christophe Clement have come in Grade 1 company. With plenty of speed to set the table for his rally, he looks like a deserving favorite, but there is plenty of competition in the field.
Limited Liability is another runner in the field who has been knocking on the door of late. Since winning an allowance race at Keeneland to open his 4-year-old season, the son of Kitten’s Joy has been competitive in three straight graded stakes. Last out, he was a close-up third in the Grade 3 Sycamore Stakes at Keeneland.
Another one to strongly consider on Saturday is the distance-loving Red Run. He has competed mostly on the dirt this year but has run two solid races since switching to the turf for trainer Mike Maker. It’s a deep field, but I think it is a good spot for Soldier Rising to get his first victory of the year. He is the top pick.
$10 Exacta Part Wheel - Soldier Rising and Limited Liability over Soldier Rising, Limited Liability, Red Run, Cross Border, and Verstappen = $80
Trainer Chad Brown looks to hold a strong hand when he sends out three talented and lightly raced fillies in the Grade 3 Pebbles Stakes going one-mile on the turf at Aqueduct on Saturday. Rhiannon, who broke her maiden by seven lengths in her turf debut eight weeks ago at Aqueduct, could end up being the best of the bunch.
Startup Mentality, meanwhile, has made only one career start, but impressed while winning on the Monmouth Park grass this summer. And finally, Implicated, who has won 2-of-3 on the grass and was a stakes winner last year, completes the formidable Brown trio.
If anyone can stop a Chad Brown dominated result, Sacred Wish looks to have the best opportunity. A daughter of Not This Time, she is trained by George Weaver. After pretty good results on the dirt, including a second in the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks, she moved to the turf two starts back. A nice win over the course in the Winter Memories Stakes was followed by a troubled fourth last out in the Grade 3 Valley View.
The Brown trio will obviously be tough to beat in the Pebbles, but I really like the way Sacred Wish has taken to the grass for trainer George Weaver in the last two. She is the top pick.
$10 Exacta Box - Sacred Wish and Rhiannon = $20
$10 Exacta Box - Sacred Wish and Startup Mentality = $20
Before the stakes races, 2-year-olds will take to the turf as an overflow field has been entered in an interesting maiden race carded as race 5 on Saturday. Chad Brown will once again be in the forefront in this one, as he sends out a pair, but there are plenty of others to consider in this one.
Chief among them is the Todd Pletcher-trained Enlighten. A son of Quality Road, he got off to an awkward start in his career debut when fourth behind the talented General Partner.
Last time out, he showed better speed but battled for much of the way before fading in the stretch. This will be his turf debut and he has the breeding to succeed in the surface switch.
Of the Brown pair, Four Top is bred to take to the grass and has been working solidly for his career debut. He is the one that most scares me here, but Enlighten will be my top pick.
$20 Win & Place - Enlighten = $40
In my final suggested wager of the card, I’ll be looking at a field of eight hard-hitting and experienced sprinters going 6-furlongs on the main track in this allowance race.
Victorious Wave should get plenty of respect here, having been right there in all seven of his starts in 2023. Trained by Chris Engelhardt, he comes into the race with three straight wins, all at different tracks. A winner of 7-of-13, he looks like the one to beat.
Another one who has made a habit of making it into the winner’s circle is the David Jacobson-trained Colonel Bowman. He, too, has yet to run a bad race this season. After winning five straight earlier this year, he has been a solid second in each of his last three.
Finally, there is My Harbors Dream. Claimed from the Jacobson barn last time, he will be making his first start for trainer Rick Dutrow, Jr. in this one. Like the aforementioned pair, he is a consistent sprinter coming into this one in good form. If he can take a step forward for his new barn, he should be tough. He is the top pick.
$10 Exacta Part Wheel - My Harbors Dream over Victorious Wave and Colonel Bowman = $20
$5 Exacta Part Wheel - Victorious Wave and Colonel Bowman over My Harbors Dream = $10
Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.
Email: [email protected]
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