Why I'm Betting Aqueduct Specialists in the Gravesend Stakes

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

December 20th, 2018

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Skyler's Scramjet winning the Tom Fool Handicap (gr. III) - NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography

Aqueduct can be a bit of a tricky racetrack—slow, tiring, and distinctly different from the other tracks in New York—which is why I’ll lean toward proven Aqueduct specialists when handicapping Sunday’s $100,000 Gravesend Stakes.

First and foremost in my mind is #6 Skyler’s Scramjet, who went on quite a tear at Aqueduct last winter with three wins from five starts. Actually, he went 3-for-3 in six-furlong races like the Gravesend, culminating with a decisive score over a quality field in the Tom Fool Handicap (gr. III). For that effort, in which he pushed a fast pace before pulling clear in the homestretch, Skyler’s Scramjet received an eye-catching 108 BRIS speed figure.

Skyler’s Scramjet ran below form when finishing sixth in the June 17th Mr. Prospector Stakes at Monmouth Park, his most recent start, but perhaps the time off will do him good. Trainer Michelle Nevin is winning at a 21% rate during the current Aqueduct meet, and the return to Aqueduct should be perfect for this four-year-old son of Creative Cause. I’m expecting a very good effort.

#5 Gold for the King is another runner with a strong record at Aqueduct, having recorded four wins and one second from five starts over this track. He’s also never finished out of the exacta in five starts sprinting six furlongs, and last time out he was a powerful 9 ¼-length winner of Aqueduct’s seven-furlong New York Stallion Series Stakes, earning a 104 BRIS speed figure. Top jockey Joel Rosario will keep the mount on this New York-bred son of Posse, who has posted triple-digit BRIS figures in five of his last six starts.

The third runner with proven form at Aqueduct is #1 Life in Shambles, a seven-year-old veteran who recently rebounded to peak form after being claimed by Jason Servis. Life in Shambles has proven victorious in his last two starts, including the six-furlong Fall Highweight Handicap (gr. III), in which he rated behind the leaders before producing a last-minute rally to win by a bit less than a length with a 106 BRIS speed figure.

The other three entrants are either winless at Aqueduct or somewhat inconsistent runners who can be difficult to trust. They include the capable graded stakes winner #4 Always Sunshine and the occasionally brilliant #2 Recruiting Ready, but with the Aqueduct specialists looming formidable in this competitive race, I’ll box Life in Shambles, Gold for the King, and Skyler’s Scramjet in the exacta while also betting the latter to win:

$12 to win on #6 Skyler’s Scramjet $3 exacta: 1,5,6 with 1,5,6 ($18)

Good luck!