The later we get in the year, the slimmer the pickings get as far as graded races on the calendar. This weekend was a perfect example of that as the Grade 3 Native Diver at Hollywood and this race at Aqueduct were the two that stood out. I selected this one since the field was a little bigger and there was more of a chance to find a diamond in the rough.
My top choice in here is the defending champion in the Queens County, #2 Researcher. He certainly appears to be quite the versatile horse with races on the lead and coming from behind on the docket. He laid just off the pace in this race last year and got up to win by a half-length. His path to this race is nearly identical to last year, although he ran 2nd in the Mountaineer Mile this year after winning the HBPA Governor's Cup at Charles Town. Last year, he won both of those races and then the Queens County. My second choice will be #7 Lord Kipling, who enters this race off an Allowance/Optional Claiming score at Laurel on December 3. He seems to be the horse in this race with the most experience going extended distances, including a win at two miles at Saratoga in mid-August. Overall, he is 4 of 5 in-the-money over the winter track at Aqueduct. Next comes the regally-bred #6 Rodman, who has 1978 Triple Crown winner, Affirmed and 1992 Belmont and Breeders' Cup Classic winner, A.P. Indy, one generation back in the lineage. He just destroyed at field over the main track at Aqueduct, winning by over seven lengths with a Beyer of 102 on November 11. The main concern here is how well he handles the distance of 1 3/16 miles in the Queens County since he has never been that far before. Finally, I will round out the top four with #5 More Than A Reason. He has just one recent win on his resume' and that was on October 12 at Belmont. However, he is 6 for 9 in-the-money over the track and posted a bullet workout over it as well on December 2, covering a half-mile in 47.1. Here is the play for the Grade 3 Queens County:
$1 EX BOX 2-5-6-7 plus $1 TRI 2 with 5-6-7 and 5-6-7 with 2 with 5-6-7
As always, They Are Off accepts no responsibility for any wagers placed in conjunction with these selections. They are merely suggestions. Tune in on Monday for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!