We stay in New York for the second straight day at Aqueduct for an $80,000 allowance optional claiming race (purse: $70,000) for 3-year-olds over 6 ½ furlongs on the dirt. The small field of 5 will go to gate for race 3 on the 8-race card with an approximate post time of 1:54 p.m. ET.
#1, Secret Rules, Junior Alvarado, 4-5
No secret here that Secret Rules is the morning-line favorite, having finished in the money in all three of her career starts since September, highlighted by a neck win on the rail in his last, a maiden special weight race here on Nov. 30. He has the rail again today with Junior Alvarado aboard for trainer Bill Mott. The pick.
#5, Trash Talker, Manuel Franco, 2-1
Trash Talker had in-the-money finishes in his last two starts at Aqueduct, including a length win as the favorite in his last, a maiden special weight race on Dec. 7. Manuel Franco is aboard for Trash Talker’s fifth career start for trainer Dermot Magner. Let’s see if he can upset the favorite here from the outside. Runner-up.
#4, Polar Bear Pete, Dylan Davis, 6-1
He had a New Year’s day start in his last here, a fifth-place finish in the Jerome Stakes, so he is coming off a very short layoff. Last year, he ran twice, both in the money finishes, highlighted by his first win in his first start by 5 ½ lengths as the third choice in a maiden claiming race at Belmont Park on Oct. 3. Dylan Davis, who was aboard the first win, has the mount again for trainer Edward Barker. Contender.
#3, Him She Kisses, G Richards, 9-2
He has finished in the money in three (all at Aqueduct) of his four career starts, including back-to-back runner-up finishes, highlighted by his last in a starter allowance race just six days ago on Jan. 4. Him She Kisses is coming off a shorter layoff than my third-place choice, Polar Bear Pete. Gary Richards has the mount for trainer Gary Contessa. It should be interesting to see how both of my last two picks race coming off such short layoffs. In the mix.
By Lou Monaco