A great holiday weekend of betting action kicks off on Thursday with a field of seven going in the Thanksgiving fixture at Aqueduct, the $250,000 Fall Highweight (G3).
The mare La Verdad, fresh off her runner up finish in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) will take on six males in the six-furlong contest. The Linda Rice trainee has won five of her seven starts this year.
It was six but she was disqualified from her win in the Honorable Miss (G2) because she tested positive for clenbuterol. Her trainer Linda Rice will serve a 15-day suspension.
Rice told The Daily Racing Form that she does not keep clenbuterol in her barn.
“We have no idea how this occurred,” Rice said. “Under the trainer’s responsibility rule, it doesn’t matter who’s at fault, how it occurred, or if it was foul play. I’ll take responsibility and move on.”
Thursday’s race could be La Verdad’s last before hitting the breeding shed. She has won 15 of her 23 career starts for earnings of $1,500,700.
Her main rival appears to be Salutos Amigos, who also competed in the Breeders’ Cup, checking in fifth in the Sprint after a troubled trip. The gelding is the defending champion of the Fall Highweight, winning last year in the slop.
The Thanksgiving Day card has an early post of 11:50 ET. Also on the card is the $150,000 Furlough Stakes which drew a field of five juvenile fillies that will go six furlongs on the main track. Three of the five exit the Matron (G2) including the runner up Constellation for the Steve Asmussen barn.
Friday’s feature at Aqueduct is the $300,000 Go for Wand (G3) and Saturday’s card features four graded stakes including the $500,000 Cigar Mile Handicap (G1).
Let’s head out to the Big A for Thursday’s featured race of the day:
Aqueduct Race 8 The Fall Highweight Handicap G3 Post time 3:20 ET
6 Salutos Amigos 8-5
7 La Verdad 2-1
2 Palace 5-1
1 Captain Serious 20-1
Salutos Amigos is the defending champ of this race, winning last year in the slop as the 2-1 betting favorite. The David Jacobson trainee did not have the best of trips in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) in a fifth place finish. The gelding had to steady nearing the half mile pole and came with a four wide run and showed some late interest, beaten 4 ½ lengths for the top spot. Two back he made a good late rally to miss winning the Vosburgh (G1) at Belmont Park by a neck to Rock Fall. He caught a racing strip that was kind to inside speed that day. He has won three of his four starts over the Big A main track and gets an upgrade in Ortiz brothers to Irad.
La Verdad came back off a week break to run big in the Breeders Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) in a runner up finish to Wavell Avenue. Seven furlongs is not her best distance and the cut back to six here will suit. She has won five of her six starts over the main track here, the lone loss coming in this race last year where she faded to finish seventh. It was her lone start in her last 10 where she failed to land in the exacta. The mare owns solid early and mid pace numbers but this race came up top heavy with early speed. She is getting seven pounds from our top pick.
Palace won the state bred Hudson two back and Rice thought about trying him in the Sprint but elected to go to the Frank J. De Francis where he checked in third as the beaten favorite. The six-year-old exchanged bumps with a couple of foes and had to steady briefly. The blinkers come back off today and he was only a half-length behind our top pick in the Vosburgh where he was fourth beaten ¾ of a length. That outing was his best since taking back-to-back Grade 1 races last summer. His best puts him in the mix but he does not always give it and looks to have lost a step or two from last year.
WIN: Salutos Amigos to win at 9-5 or better.
EXACTA: 6,7 / 1,2,6,7
TRIFECTA: 6,7 / 1,2,6,7 / 1,2,3,6,7
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