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Innermost Thoughts

Posted by Brian Mulligan on 11/29/2010 6:02:11 PM

With the holiday season already in full force, the innermost thoughts turn to the winterized racing strip at the Big A where only the brave and those hungry for the thrill of victory thrive. Action starts there on Wednesday.

Some call it the inner sanctum, others call it the velodrome, and the sour call it the dog day afternoons of the winter, whatever, Aqueduct “inner strip” season is here and its here to stay for a little over three months.

The big stables have the Christmas presents packed; the suntan lotion ready to be applied and are set to hit the road on their way to Gulfstream, which opens January 5. That leaves the best of the rest to duke it out in the grueling Northeast colt.

Inside speed going short and long is the order of the day more often than not. Horses stretching out after showing affinity for getting at least 7 furlongs are destined for success.

It’s always a solid ploy to stick with horses that have done well on the inner in the past and resist the temptation to bet on form other than this unique surface.

Because of the way the weather affects things, one must pay attention not only to a possible bias going into any afternoon of racing, but also during the day itself because a cold snap, freezing rain, or a little snow can change everything in a heartbeat.

One angle to think about if the rains do come, and they will, is that often times if a drying-out track comes into play, the tendency is for the speed to hold on much better.

As far as the pilots are concerned, Ramon Dominquez will dominate if he decides to stay in New York and not go south.

This meet generally opens up the arena for the jockeys that struggle to get quality mounts and second tier guys like Mike Luzzi, Channing Hill, and Fernando Jara could find great opportunities.

The straws that stir the drinks are the trainers and the same theory applies to those guys as it does to the pilots.

The potent Steve Asmussen barn will likely leave their second stringers in the north and only take the more promising stock to Gulfstream.

David Jacobson has had good success here in the winter and don’t be shocked if some shipping trainers do very well.

Be on the lookout for any horse that comes in and is associated with Chris Englehart. He runs a super high-octane barn and has won with 131 of his first 401 Finger Lakes runners this year. This inner strip meet should be ripe for the taking for him.

Also be aware if you see horses trained by Charlton Baker or the much-underrated Karl Grusmark.

Try to isolate and key on horses that have been pointed directly for this niche meeting.

Also try to pay attention to the Beyer Pars. Anything above 75 in those cheap maiden $20,000 claimers is a solid figure and if a mid-grade claimer from $25,000 to $75,000 gets above a 96 figure, that runner will likely be able to string together wins.

Bundle up, get that coffee on the stove, roll out the pens and the Form and hunker down to ward off the chill.

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