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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, April 22, 2022 — Only seven three-year-olds will meet on the turf in Queens in Saturday’s co-featured Woodhaven Stakes. The significance of that is a strong case can be made for six of them.

We understand why Unanimous Choice is the early line favorite at 2-1. He undefeated in two starts, he’s Chad Brown, and he absolutely steamrolled an optimal allowances field in his season’s debut, a powerful late rally despite highly unfavorable pace and trip dynamics.

There are faster rivals here who have distinguished themselves to a higher degree.

Shug McGaughey’s Fort Washington (7-2) is sitting n a breakthrough performance, broke his maiden on today’s course, and reunites with winning pilot Jose Lezcano. He trained very well over deepish Payson before shipping back north.

Christophe Clement’s beat the latter in his first start for Shug, a very sharp season’s debut in which Heaven Street (9-2) showed excellent stalking speed, assuring a good clear trip, and held them all off after getting first run.

The last quarter-mile in the Columbia Stakes shaded 24 seconds, a section of that mile event in which Fort Washington came from farther back, hence the hair-splitting decision between these two.

But we’ll take any value offered on Ohtwothreefive (6-1). The George Weaver barn has come alive in a big way in recent weeks and this one is on a delayed top turf effort, subsequently muddied up by a dirt and synthetic run. Back on turf and back to winning partner Eric Cancel.

Getting weight from all with tactical speed and an inside draw makes this a good gamble if the price holds. Here is the first of three tracks, a selection that includes graded stakes from Hot Springs and Lexington, along with our regular featured coverage from Gulfstream Park and Tampa Bay Downs.




THE VALUE BET: Ohtwothreefive to win at 5-1 or greater

EXOTICA: Exacta box Fort Washington, Ohtwothreefive and Unanimous Consent


Grade 1 APPLE BLOSSOM Race 5

Something has to give when champions collide and in this match, Ce Ce (2-1) has a problem. Her main rival, Letruska (7-5), winner of this race last year, is loose on the lead and it will be up to the sprint champion to apply pressure. At the least, she must be in hailing distance and comfortable doing so.

What we learned from her winning two-turn prep, the G2 Azeri, is she can rate, get first run, be challenged, then re-surge for the win, the essence of class. And Michael McCarthy is an ace in LAY-3 scenarios. This is a big spot. Some great champions have won this race.

Letruska won as easily as horses can win, beating very ordinary rivals. Clairiere (5-2) won her prep, too, beating some very decent fillies, and she did it in high style. She has made a good transition from 3 to 4. All she’s lacking is a race over the strip. She is second co-highweight with Ce Ce, both getting three pounds. We’re going for an upset with a filly that still has upside potential.


THE VALJUE BET: Clariere to win at 5-2 or greater.

EXOTICA: Key-boxing Clairiere with the two champions


This nine furlongs is a lot more open. We’re shading Plainsman (5-2), the difference being the tactical speed that will have her in this throughout, enabling first run with the hope that regular recent partner Joel Rosario can blow this race wide open in midstretch.

After a win and a second in his prep G3 Essex prep, this is the spot Brad Cox has been pointing for. He gets a favorable 3-pound switch from Essex winner Rated R Superstar (5-1), who freaked over his favorite surface last out.

Fearless (9-5) won his last as easy as he pleased late but comes back on relatively short rest, not Todd Pletcher’s modus operandi. Super Stock (10-1), pointed to this is 2-for-4 at the trip and 2-for-13 at all others. Further, he won the 2021 Arkansas Derby at today’s distance.


THE VALUE BET: Super Stock to win at 8-1 or greater

EXOTICA: Key-boxing Plainsman first and second in exactas and trifectas with his three rivals above



If performance figures are a measure–they always are–two stand out over the rest. Both are making their seasonal debuts but do so for barns that know just how to do this.

Seasons (2-1) is making her first start for Josie Carroll who reaches out for Tyler Gaffalione, a rider with a meet title on his mind. After breaking maiden on debut at Saratoga, Tapit filly has been fed a career of stakes the rest of the way, albeit of the Canadian variety.

Well, she’s now coached by a Canadian trainer and shows nine public workouts for this dating back to mid-February and has done it quite well at Palm Meadowlands before shipping to Keeneland where she posted a best of 63 work. Well posted to save ground and a wicked late kick will have her running in the lane.

Nevisian Sunrise (9-5) returns from a 301-day layup, but it’s Chad Brown who taps a stable favorite and a man familiar with the War Front filly, Irad Ortiz Jr. This one has 10 works going back to January at Payson Park. As with Seasons, fitness will not be an issue. She won her lone start in Lexington at today’s trip.

Finally, Commanders Palace (10-1) may prove something good to eat. She’s had her prep for this in South Florida for Mark Casse and was narrowly beaten by ‘Nevisian’ in her lone local start, FOur recent orks applied the finishing touches. Luis Saez takes the call.


THE VALUE BET: Commanders Palace to win at 7-1 or greater

EXOTICA: Three-horse exacta box. Trifecta key-box Nevisian Spirit first and second with Seasons and Commanders Palace.


A non-winners of three other than; don’t see that very often these days. This 1-1/16 miles second leg of the $3 all-turf Pick 3, for those so inclined, Appears a three-filly affair; Gam’s Mission (3-1), Market Rumor (6-1) and Sweet Enough (4-1).

The former ran well in her return, enjoying a good stalking trip, but with ground loss, and she grinded her way down the lane to finish second, giving the impression of needing the effort. Regular rider Adam Beschizza takes the return call.

Market Rumor made one long, sustained run in her season’s debut going 7-1/2 at Gulfstream Park and just missed by a neck. Today’s longer trip and surface appear a better fit. Sweet Enough makes her North American debut for Roger Attfield who know how to do this, is a well bred Lope de Vega filly and kept good company in Europe. She has worked very strongly at deepish Payson Park and Irad Jr. comes with the package.


THE VALUE BET: Market Rumor to win at 4-1 or greater

EXOTICA: Three-horse exacta box.


And what an open scramble this is, Five of the nine entered can take home the lion’s of the $350,000 pot, from the inside out: Bemma’s Boy (5-1), Two Emmys (7-2), Channel Maker (2-1), Tiberius Mercurius (12-1) and Another Mystery. We’ll concentrate of three here.

Bemma’s Boy and Tiberius Mercuries are an uncoupled pair from Mike Maker. Both appear to be specifically pointed in this direction. Bemma’s Boy was a very good third in his prep for this now returns to a course (1-for-1) and trip (3) 2-1-0 he enjoys. A ground-saving position and Umberto Rispoli appear a good fit in this spot.

‘Tiberius’ is 2-for-3 since the barn change to Maker and gets first-time Tyler here. He’ll be seriously tested for place but the price should be right. Two Emmys is a confirmed, classy speedster which never seems to run a bad one and was second in the G3 Sycamore at the trip here last fall and taking the first and last G1 Mister D at Arlington Park, nee the Arlington Million. Regular pilot James Graham takes the re-ride.


THE VALUE BET: Bemma’s Boy to win at 4-1 or greater

EXOTICA: Three-horse exacta box of the three above. Five-horse Dime Super box with all the above

Per usual: Exotics plays at minimums available. Straight bets in $2 units.

this is a live column and will be updated throughout the weekend

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10 Responses

  1. Great writeup, thanks; it’s greatly appreciated. This AQU feature Saturday is really a good race.

    RIP Green Light Go. brutal news again. I was in the house when he broke his maiden first out at a nice price. I did not have him. Really sad news; Jimmy Jerkens does such a great job with his barn, they must be devastated.

  2. Thanks Doc, albeit not for the horrible news, ending a horrendous meet. Terrible scenario for JJ who got him back to prime form after the return to his barn–a change that never should have been made in the first place. Son of Chief is a great horseman and never even the hint of scandal. The game we love sure can be brutal at times…

    1. Yeah really anxious for the meet to flip over to Belmont at this point. I’m already angling to try to be able to have my afternoon free on Thursday so I can go out there for opening day, and just sit in the fresh air with some NYRA issue Manhattan Clam Chowder

      1. Doc, have not seen PPs but have seen entries. In the opener, Eu Claire is on my Horse to Watch list from 1119. That’s all I know at this moment…

      2. I would generally and usually agree that May is just about here and so will Be!mont and Kentucky Derby, Mother’s Day and better weather But I won’t complain about this Aqueduct meeting,,because has been *berry,berry good to me *. Question is,will this positive,profitable way continue at my favorite track after I will stay put in it’s week ? What,if anything,will change ?Will keep a very careful tab while I will only pay attention to Turf races,you know,the usual angles, $x distance,plus Beyer’s,trainer and jockey.But will it be worthwhile to spend $ 8 x a limited program Past Performances ? They should have A la Carte programs,even if at$ 3-4 per. Why rip off 6,7,8 other programs from parts unknown when it is Enough to just try to concentrate on just One or maybe Two ? Does anyone care what goes on at Fonner,FanDuel or will Rogers third rate tracks ,Really ?!?! Closed wit cold 2 race exacta,7 1. I-ll Watch Bobby Flay’s Pizza Bianca race and call it so long until the fall meet.Thanks,Aqueduct !!

  3. Thanks for the work John. Just back from Twinspires Keeneland. Matched your wagers and added an extra ex box Gam & Mkt Rum. Was going to wait on Vino narrative, but I recall him saying see you in 3 weeks. Now off to visit the rest of your verse. Safe journey to all today.

  4. Thanks again John. The Keeneland Market Rumor/Gam’s Mission ex box call, and my buying an extra ex box wager, put me over the top once more this weekend heading into CD. My just turned three year grandson, Griffin, often has trouble pronouncing his R’s, and my wife has answered to the aka of “Gam” over the last half year. Too good of a hunch to pass on. We just always need to pay mind to the hunches and go with them sometimes. Tomorrow my better half, aka Sammie Girl, well she gets awarded a bottle of red on her grandson, (aka in my book “The Grifter”. His 7 year old brother will also have a few tickets in Kentucky. Maybe on his baseball number. His aka is The Rooster and he will also be watching the big race with me. The future of the Sport will be in their hands one day. My challenge will be in teaching moderation in all endeavors. Thanks again “Loughlin”. – McD

  5. The pleasure was all mine, McD, and while the family hunch play had some misfortune, the good news is that the better price won the photo, putting me over the top as well.

    Won’t be long now, Churchill opens Saturday.

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