The nine-race card Thursday at Aqueduct finishes strong with a pair of optional-claiming races that will make or break the late pick four.
The card concludes with a second-level optional-claiming sprint for New York-breds that figures to have a more-than-honest pace.
Stoney Bennett and Bavaro are both fast and off their best are capable of winning the six-furlong race. But something will have to give with them drawn side by side in posts 9 and 10.
Stoney Bennett failed to hold in his latest after opening a 3 1/2-length lead in midstretch. He was run down by deep-closing Benevolence, who blew by him to score by two lengths. Benevolence, who was in for the $40,000 claiming price in that race, returns under the allowance condition Thursday.
Benevolence will start from post 4 and should get a suitable pace setup for trainer Michael Tannuzzo.
Morning Breez hasn’t won in five starts since April for Carlos Martin but comes into this off a solid try against open first-level allowance company. He pressed the early pacesetter, took the lead, but then could not contain Life’s a Parlay, who is now 2 for 3 and has put together back-to-back wins.
With the pace figuring to be hot, Morning Breez may settle just off the leaders and get first run at them.
Cerretalto already has won at this level, and trainer James Bond drops him in for the claiming price. A bit more ratable then Morning Breez, he could land in the perfect early spot.
This will be the easiest field T Loves a Fight has faced in his three starts this year. Linda Rice offers him up for the claiming price here, and although the gelding is winless so far in 2018, he certainly has the back class to wake up at a price.
Sicilia Mike finished second at this level in his last start, but that is kind of what he likes to do. From 29 starts, Sicilia Mike has 2 wins and 12 seconds.
Race 8, an open optional claimer at 6 1/2 furlongs, has a field of six, with Timber Ghost a likely favorite based on the 95 Beyer Speed Figure he earned winning his last start for Jimmy Jerkens. The 3-year-old son of Ghostzapper has now won a maiden race and an allowance in consecutive starts, but success comes at a price and he now has to step up in class and face a tougher group.
Nine-time winner Life in Shambles and six-time winner Pete’s Play Call battled it out to finish first and second, separated by a neck, at this level last time out. Life in Shambles is once again for sale for the $62,500 claiming tag.
Ajnadeen went wire to wire to win a first-level allowance most recently and could find himself on the lead alongside Timber Ghost, with Life in Shambles and Pete’s Play Call tracking them.
Still Krz adds more fuel to what should be a hot pace.
This story originally appeared on DRF.com.
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