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Juvenile expert Andrew Champagne picks the eight race at Aqueduct

Saturday’s card at Aqueduct will likely be the best one we see in New York for several months. In addition to the Cigar Mile, two stakes races for 2-year-olds are on the docket as well, and the first of those is the Grade 2 Demoiselle for fillies going a mile and an eighth.

It’s always fun to see which juveniles will relish going two turns. Add in a jumbo-sized field of 12 and no true standout, and you have a recipe for a fantastic betting race. There’s a lot to like here, and I’m excited to dive in!

The 8-1 Top Pick

One could go many different ways, and if you’re playing multi-race exotics, I’d urge you to spread. However, if #6 CRITICAL VALUE is anywhere close to her 8-1 morning line odds, she would hit me as a substantial overlay. She’s taken big steps forward in every start, most recently running away with a $250,000 stakes race for state-breds at Belmont Park.

Critical Value tries two turns for the first time, but she’s by Bodemeister and has a win going a mile, so the route shouldn’t be a problem. Additionally, she’s been working lights-out over this Aqueduct surface for trainer Jeremiah Englehart, who’s hitting at a 23% clip with 2-year-olds. With all of this being put together, she’s my top pick, and one that could offer plenty of value.

The Other Logical Contenders

I liked #5 ALANDRA in the Grade 1 Alcibiades at Keeneland. She was coming in off of a nice debut win at Saratoga for Shug McGaughey, whose horses often need a race or two to get going. She was bet down to 2-1 in that spot, but broke terribly and could only salvage a distant third. However, there’s no shame in losing to likely divisional champ British Idiom, and Joel Rosario rides back. I think she should be the morning line favorite here, and it wouldn’t shock me at all if she puts it together here.

#10 DAPHNE MOON boasts a similar profile. She won at Saratoga in her unveiling, was bet in the Grade 1 Frizette, and stumbled at the start. I’m drawing a line through that race, and I’m interested to see how she’ll handle two turns. She’d benefit from a speed duel, and I think there’s the potential for one to develop as the field heads down the backstretch.

The Underlays

I don’t want any part of #2 MAEDEAN. Yes, she won the Tempted in her last start, but she beat just five foes that day, and it was essentially a glorified allowance race. This is a far tougher spot, and I can’t endorse her at or near her 7/2 morning line price. If she beats me, I’ll live with it.

Meanwhile, #12 LAKE AVENUE hits a soft spot for me, since she’s named for a street that once housed an upstate New York newspaper I still freelance for every summer. However, while she ran away with her maiden race last time out, she did so in very slow fashion over a field that wasn’t anything to write home about. She’s bred to be any kind and I probably need to use her in some capacity, but given the stretchout to two turns and the far outside post, it would surprise me if she won.

How I’ll Play It

I’ll box my top three selections, with an additional emphasis on Critical Value (including a smaller exacta box that includes Lake Avenue). Furthermore, I’ll have win money on my top pick at odds of 5-1 or higher.

2 units: Exacta box, 5,6,10

1 unit: Exacta key box, 6 w/5,10,12

2 units: Win, 6 (if 5-1 or higher)

By Andrew Champagne

Article Author

Horse Racing

Andrew Champagne is a horse racing handicapper with a specialism in juveniles. One thing is for certain, Champagne gets the party started.


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