An action-packed week of racing at Aqueduct has been diminished slightly with the cancellation of the Thanksgiving Day card because of high wind forecasts, but the schedule for Friday and Saturday remains enticing, with six stakes races on the agenda.
Let’s focus our attention on two of the most lucrative races—the $200,000 Comely Stakes (G3) and the $200,000 Discovery Stakes (G3)—and come up with a couple of spot plays on a $40 budget.
Friday, November 29
Race 8: Comely Stakes (G3)
#1 Stand for the Flag, #2 Gold Standard, #3 Bellera and #4 Arrifana all bring stamina-oriented pedigrees to this 1 1/8-mile race, particularly the latter three. All are relatively inexperienced and still improving, yet they’ve all posted Brisnet speed figures of 96 or better, which gives them a meaningful advantage over the remainder of the Comely entrants.
If I were to split hairs, I might narrowly favor the Maryland shipper Arrifana. A daughter of Curlin, out of an A.P. Indy mare, Arrifana is undefeated in four starts and should enjoy the opportunity to stretch out over 1 1/8 miles. But rather than favor any one filly, I suggest boxing the four standouts in the superfecta, which—if it hits—should yield a respectable payoff regardless of the order of finish.
$1 superfecta box: 1,2,3,4 ($24)
Saturday, November 30
Race 8: Discovery Stakes (G3)
#1 Tax won the Withers Stakes (G3) over this track and 1 1/8-mile distance in February and reiterated his class with a hard-fought triumph in the 1 1/8-mile Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) at Saratoga. He finished seventh in the Travers Stakes (G1) last time out, but endured a tricky trip, where he raced wide and tracked a contested pace. The drop in class and three-month freshening should make him dangerous in the Discovery.
But #8 Grumps Little Tots also warrants a look. Aside from a ninth-place effort in the Wood Memorial (G2), where he was badly hampered at the start, Grumps Little Tots has never missed the trifecta. He beat older rivals in a 1 1/8-mile allowance race at Saratoga this summer and enters the Discovery off a solid runner-up effort at Belmont, where he was compromised by a slow early/fast late race shape. With a better setup Saturday, Grumps Little Tots can fire off a career-best run for hot trainer Jason Servis.
$8 to win on $8 Grumps Little Tots
$4 exacta box: 1,8 ($8)