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Classic Contenders Face off in Aqueducts' Saturday Card

The place to be for the state-side thoroughbred racing is definitely going to be Aqueduct this weekend, and you can bank on the late pick 4 being a particularly popular shot as the small fields make the $250,000 guaranteed pool look all the more appealing.

There is some high-quality allowance action on the undercard and, at this point in the racing season, it’s always important to remember to respect the South American shippers.

Demoisel Stakes (Grade 2)

This slim field looks even shorter with a coupled entry here as we’ve got two year-old fillies set to go 9f over the dirt course at Aqueduct. The Dutrow’s have three entries while Todd Pletcher saddles a pair of uncoupled contenders. From a Beyer standpoint, the 7/2 Tap for Luck (Tapit) tops the field as she scored an impressive 90 when breaking her maiden at Saratoga back in August.

She jumped up to Grade 1 level in the Frizette only to get smacked down with a fifth-place finish. She went four-wide on the turn in her last effort, the Grade 3 Tempted stakes, and being unproven at the distance means that she’s likely one to ignore.

Undefeated SUMMER LAUGH (Distorted Humor) is the other Pletcher charge and she’s undefeated in her two-race career. She showed plenty of versatility scoring in a maiden special weight at Saratoga and then shipping to Del Mar to score by a head in the ungraded Blue Hen Stakes.

Being proven in a route is always an advantage in a two year-old contest and if she can hold off Believe in A.P. (A.P. Indy) who drops down from a fourth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Watch for Full Moon Blues (Petionville) to set the early pace but she will likely struggle with the additional furlong.

Remsen Stakes (Grade 2)

More action from the next generation in this very important 9f race for two year-olds. It’s not a huge surprise that Grade 2 Nashua winner To Honor and Serve (Bernardini) gets the nod here after racking up a very respectable 97 Beyer in that four-length wire-to-wire victory. He trades at 6/5 in the morning line and will likely go off at a very short price which makes one hesitate a bit unless they’re using this as a banker in the Pick 4 ticket.

There are some talented outside contenders here as MOUNTAIN TOWN (Cape Town) and the undefeated Bandbox (Tapit) step up to the plate. Mountain Town boasts a quality reference of having been second to two year-old standout Uncle Mo (Indian Charlie) in his last race- the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes at Belmont.

He went four wide and swept out pretty far and it really looked to have undone him. Scoring an 85 is nothing to sneeze at and he’s going down six pounds in the weights. Bandbox hasn’t been beaten but this is his first step up to Graded action. He showed a high-quality late kick in his late one, capturing the SleepyHollo at Belmont.

Gazelle Stakes (Grade 1)

A field of talented fillies is set to contest this prestigious Grade 1 race and it looks like it might come down to a pair of extremely solid performers. This 9f route is headlined by No Such Word (Canadian Frontier) and she boasts a very respectable Beyer average this season.

Her last score was an emphatic six-length blast in the Remington Oaks back in October. Unproven over the Aqueduct surface, or anywhere in New York for that matter, she is also yet to score at the 9f distance.

Godolphin’s DUBAI DANCER (A.P. Indy) looks a strong play at an enticing 4/1 and she is coming into form at just the right time. Her first go on the maiden circuit was a write-off and it looks like connections discovered her tactical speed when she broke her maiden, actually stepping up 10 grand in the process. She’s shown the ability to recover from a bad start, bobbling out of the gate at Belmont and then scoring by a length and a half. If she gets a clean trip, she will be hard to beat.  

Cigar Mile (Grade 1)

The feature on Saturday is definitely the Cigar Mile and we’ve got some absolutely top-class colts and geldings lining up for this one. Cutting right to the chase here, HAYNESFIELD (Speightstown) looks hard to beat and this Breeders’ Cup Classic runner cut his teeth over the Aqueduct surface earlier in his career.

He’ll be more comfortable than many of the other big names and, if you throw out his disappointing Classic run, he boasts a first-rate Beyer average. Expect him to get up to the front early on and he’ll be able to find more as he’s been stretched out up to 1m¼ in his past few.

Musket Man (Yonaguska) deserves respect and his seventh-place finish in the Classic was the only time in his career that he’s finished off the board - definitely one to use in the gimmicks. Todd Pletcher’s French-runner Bribon (Mark of Esteem) is probably the biggest threat and his classy 104 in the Bold Ruler looks a decent reference.

He was the runner-up in this one last year and he just couldn’t find more over the last furlong. The reason it’s best to bet against Bribon is his recent efforts have all been at 6f or 7f and last scored at Aqueduct in November of 2008.

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