Sifting Sands Makes Stakes Debut in Woodhaven at Aqueduct


A field of seven line up in Saturday’s $100,000 Woodhaven at Aqueduct. (© Cheryl Quigley |

A field of seven line up in the $100,000 Woodhaven at Aqueduct led by the favorite Hard Love and Sifting Sands, who makes his stakes debut.

The Jonathan Thomas trained Hard Love is the 4-5 morning line favorite. The son of Kitten’s Joy makes his first start since running second in the Central Park over good ground last November. He broke his maiden in his debut at Belmont Park in September.

Thomas will give jockey Javier Castellano a leg up as the ridgling makes his first start off a 4 ½ month break.

“We had been scrambling a little bit for works, but I think we have enough foundation where we can get him started in the Woodhaven,” Thomas said. “Hopefully, as the distances get drawn out over the summer, he’s going to be adept at that.”

The Chad Brown trained Sifting Sands (5-1) was a game maiden winner in his second career start and makes his stakes debut. The son of Dubawi will have Manny Franco in the irons and break from the seven post.

“He’s doing great,” Abreu said. “I gave him the allowance race because I wanted to get him back on track from the time off. He ran a good race and tried. He’s a horse that I think wants to go longer. He’s a big horse, he’s 17.1 [hands].”

Shawdyshawdyshawdy (4-1) made a good late run to finish second at Tampa Bay Downs last out in his first start of 2021. The colt ran fourth in a couple of stakes last year for trainer Jorge Abreu.

The co-feature on Saturday’s card at the Big A is the $200,000 New York Stallion Stakes Series Times Square which drew a field of seven three-year-olds.

My Best Plays Report for Saturday will include my 11 strongest plays from Aqueduct, Oaklawn Park and Keeneland. Oaklawn Park hosts a pair of $1 million races—the Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) and the Oaklawn Handicap (G2).

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Let’s head out to Aqueduct for Saturday’s featured race of the day:

Free Horse PIcks

Aqueduct Race 8 The Woodhaven (5:19 ET)

7 Sifting Sands   5-1

4 Shawdyshawdyshawdy   4-1

1 Hard Love   4-5

5 Original   6-1

Sifting Sands

This colt was sent off as the chalk in his debut where he was a disappointing sixth and his trainer Chad Brown had to put him on the shelf after he came up sick. In his return race at Tampa Bay Downs going a mile he tracked the early pace and finished gamely to earn his diploma off the layoff. The Brown trainee appears to still have plenty of upside. He is by Dubawi out of a Montjeu mare that has dropped five other winners including multiple Group 1 winner Legatissimo ($1.7 million) who ran second in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1).


He broke her maiden in her debut on turf last summer at the Spa going long. He then ran fourth in a couple of stakes including the Pilgrim (G2) behind Fire At Will, who won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) in her next outing.  Our top pick then hit the bench after a sixth in the Awad. Last out he came back off a 3 1/2-month break where he came with a good late rally to finish in the runner up spot against Alw-1 optional claimers at Tampa Bay Downs. Looks as if he is going to get an honest pace to run at here.

Hard Love

The chalk is making his first start since running second in the Central Park on good ground here last November. The winner Never Surprised came back to run second in the Kitten’s Joy (G3) in his next outing on Jan. 30. He is in good hands with the Thomas barn that has been very live in ’21 hitting at a 32% clip overall. He told David Grening of the DRF that this colt might be a work or two short of having him fully fit. His last speed fig seems a bit generous as well. (Never Surprised ran a next out 68 Beyer). The 4-5 morning line price just seems on the light side.


WIN: Sifting Sands to win at 7-2 or better.

EXACTA: 7 / 1,4,5 and 4,7 /  1,4,7


NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll

No. Horse Points
1 Flightline 351
2 Life Is Good 306
3 Olympiad 292
4 Jackie's Warrior 282
5 Clairiere 142
5 Country Grammer 142
7 Epicenter 121
8 Regal Glory 89
9 Nest 87
10 Hot Rod Charlie 48
As of August 1, 2022

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