With the Breeders’ Cup getting ever closer there is plenty for racing fans to look forward too, and that includes this weekend as Aqueduct Racetrack will host two top quality races in the form of the Grade 2 2022 Kelso Handicap and Grade 3 Bold Ruler. In what are two intriguing races, here is everything you need to know.
Grade 2, 1 mile, open to horses aged three and over. Total prize pool $300,000
At the time of writing six horses are set to canter down to post for this year’s renewal of the 2022 Kelso Handicap. Repositioned in the calendar, the runners in the field are likely to swerve the Breeders’ Cup but the first four finishers will receive an entry to the Grade 1 Cigar Mile Handicap due to be held in December.
Plenty of horses head into the race with plenty of decent form and confidence behind them.
Morello who is trained by the legendary Steve Asmussen returns to the scene where he won the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes. Since then, Morello has struggled in higher company finishing 6th in both the Wood Memorial and Woody Stephens Stakes. Rested and refreshed, Morello returned a few weeks ago in an optional claimer with an easy win and will be hoping to land the biggest prize of his career here.
Empty Tomb is trained by Robert Falcone Jr and will have the services of Irad Ortiz to call upon. Falcone’s charge will return to calmer waters following his ninth place in the Pegasus. A win here would be his biggest success to date but he will need a career best performance to come out on top.
Shackqueenking is looking for his fourth successive victory but will likely start as one of the outsiders of the race. This will be his first return to Aqueduct since finishing a disappointing 8th in the Grade 3 Withers and he arrives with plenty to prove at this level.
There is no runner more interesting than Baby Yoda who brings varied form into the contest. Baby Yoda has finished second to the great Flightline which still represents great form. He arrives following successive victories in allowance company and can call upon the services of Javier Castellano who has won this race on three occasions.
Another likely outsider is Title Ready who is trained by Dallas Stewart. A former Graded winner, Title Ready hasn’t lived up to his name and is currently on a nine race losing streak. He has proved he can compete at this sort of level but will need everything to fall in his favour if he is to be one of the likely contenders.
Double Crown will round off the field and is another looking to land a career best prize. His last race came just two weeks ago where he finished fourth in the Maryland Millions and will be hoping to build on that performance here.
Kelso Handicap Odds
|HORSE||JOCKEY||ODDS BY JAZZSPORTS|
|Empty Tomb||Irad Ortiz, Jr.||+300|
|Title Ready||Emma-Jayne Wilson||+600|
|Double Crown||J. D. Acosta||+1500|
|Baby Yoda||Javier Castellano||+120|
2022 Kelso Handicap Betting Prediction
In what is a muddling race to call, Morello might just edge this contest. A graded winner at this track, he can use his experience to good effect and land another significant prize.
Bold Ruler Stakes
Grade 3, Six Furlongs, open to horses aged three and over. Total prize pool $200,000
At the time of writing ten horses are due down to post for this year’s renewal of the Bold Ruler. The race has produced several big winners in the past which includes Maximum Security who won the contest back in 2019.
In what is set to be a fast and furious contest, the likely speed angle of the race is likely to be Meraas. Formerly trained in the UAE, this will be Meraas’s second run in the States. He could only finish third in optional claimer company on his American debut but more will be expected here.
Likely to take Meeras on for the lead is the Steve Asmussen trained Jaxon Traveler. He has had two runs during this Aqueduct run and was a runner up on both occasions. Earlier in the season he was an impressive winner of the Grade 3 Maryland Sprint and that form stacks up well here. A real speedster, he could be one to watch with interest.
If you like to back one from off the pace, then Drafted could be the horse for you. A closer in every sense of the word, Drafted returns to calmer waters following some disappointing efforts at the highest level. A two time winner in Grade 3 company this season, if things fall right he is bound to be in the frame.
Norman Cash arrives at the race mob handed and will saddle three in the race – Eastern Bay, Jalen Journey and Steinbeck.
This will be Steinbeck’s first stakes effort and he could be one to watch on this occasion.
Cash’s other two horses Eastern Bay and Jalen Journey are experienced at this level and will be looking to record another promising showing here. Eastern Bay has finished second twice in Grade 3’s this season but his defeats have been under a length and his turn could be near.
Jalen Journey might represent Cash’s best chance. A former Grade 3 winner he has also placed third in Grade 1 company. He may find the pace too hot but can’t be discounted.
Runninsonofagun is arguably the most consistent horse in the race. A regular at this level, he has placed in his last four Graded contests. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him have a say in the final picture but he might find himself outclassed.
Repo Rocks finds himself in a similar position and is looking to land his first graded contest following a string of placed efforts at this level.
Rounding out the field are Greeley and Ben and Factor It. Both will be looking to land a career best prize but will likely start the race as outsiders.
Bold Ruler Stakes Odds
|HORSE||JOCKEY||ODDS BY JAZZSPORTS|
|Meraas (GB)||Flavien Prat||+500|
|Factor It In||Jorge Ruiz||+800|
|Jaxon Traveler||Irad Ortiz, Jr.||+350|
|Greeley and Ben||Jorge A. Vargas, Jr.||+1000|
|Eastern Bay||Javier Castellano||+400|
|Repo Rocks||Andrew Wolfsont||+1000|
|Jalen Journey||J. D. Acosta||+3000|
Bold Ruler Betting Pick
Meeras is the unknown quantity of the race and based off his previous form in the UAE can win this race. However with American form still to prove, we will side with Jaxon Traveler. He has shown he can win going wire to wire and might have a little more stamina on his side.
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