Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:51 AM

Friday's Picks from Aqueduct and Oaklawn

We have a big weekend coming up with the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) on Saturday and this afternoon we have a Road to the Kentucky Derby points race.

A field of seven line up in the $150,000 Smarty Jones at Oaklawn Park on opening day at the Hot Springs, Arkansas track.

The Smarty Jones is the first of four Derby points races at Oaklawn Park this meeting. Coming up is the $750,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) on Feb. 15, the $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2) March 13 and the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) on April 10.

Today’s race looks like a showdown between the two likely betting favorites Cowan (9-5) and Caddo River (5-2).

Cowan is the morning line favorite and comes in off a runner up finish in the Springboard Mile at Remington Park. It seems more likely that Caddo River actually goes off as the favorite.

The Brad Cox trainee broke his maiden at Churchill Downs in his last outing by 9 ½ lengths and appears to have a bright future.

The Smarty Jones offers up 10-4-2-1 points toward entry into the Run for the Roses which is now just 99 days away.

You can stream the action from Aqueduct today on YouTube or by using the TVG App. The horse betting company based in the U.S. is offering a 50% deposit match up to $250 .  In addition, AmWager is offering up to a $500 bonus for new horseplayers.

To purchase my Aqueduct Report for Friday click here .

Now is the perfect time to purchase my Monthly Package. It gives you a month of Aqueduct Reports daily and my Best Plays Report each Saturday and Sunday.

Here is the opening from Aqueduct to get the day off to a good start:


Race 1 Md Sp Wt (12:50 ET)

  • #4 Strafe 8-5
  • #1 O'Trouble 1-1
  • #2 Mr. Buckley 4-1
  • #3 Ribbons and Medals 6-1

Analysis: Strafe makes her debut for the Chad Brown barn that is 20% winners with first time starters. This gal is by War Front out of the stakes winner Summer Raven ($168,910) who has dropped three winners and they are all stakes winners, top earner Lewis Bay ($1.16 million). A solid string of works and she only has to face four foes here although she is taking on the boys.

O'Trouble has had five tries to break his maiden and has a second and three thirds. Last out he dueled for the early lead and battle don in a third-place finish, beaten 1 1/4 lengths. He returns with the blinkers coming off as he makes his second start off a 3 1/2 month break for the Tony D. barn. He owns solid early and mid pace numbers and he has earned solid speed figs despite not getting to the winner's circle. This looks like his easiest spot after running into a few good ones including Happy Saver (won G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup).


Race 7 OClm $50,000SAL (3:20 ET)

  • #8 Poncho Song 6-1
  • #7 Timed Out 8-5
  • #6 Miss Comedian 5-1
  • #4 Pazzion 12-1

Analysis: Poncho Song cuts back to seven furlongs here after stalking the early pace and weakening to finish fifth last out against Alw-1 optional claimers in her first start against winners. She is stepping outside of the state bred ranks here but looks as if she may still have some upside for the Hennig barn. She broke her maiden two back here for a $40,000 tag with the runner up Amity Island a next out winner for a $25,000 tag on Jan. 3. She looks well spotted here and the cut back to seven furlongs should not pose a problem. Hennig has been sending out live runners at the meet.

Timed Out makes her first start since graduating at Monmouth park last October by 8 1/4 lengths for a $40,000 tag. She was claimed out of the race by trainer Scott Volk on behalf of this owner and he lands with the RRod barn. She earned the top last out speed fig in the effort and two she beat have come back to graduate sine that outing. The barn is 16% winner with runners coming back off a 61–180-day break. Main knock is with the scratch of Targeted Return she is going to be a light price.


Race 8 The Smarty Jones (5:11 ET)

  • #7 Caddo River 5-2
  • #3 Cowan 9-5
  • #6 Moonlite Strike 4-1
  • #4 Big Thorn 9-2

Analysis: Poncho Song faces winners for the first time here for the Cox barn after a very smart looking maiden win at Churchill Downs going a one turn mile. The colt took the field gate to wire, drawing away to win by 9 ½ lengths. Four runners have come out of that race to run back including fifth place finisher Kentucky Pharoah, who broke his maiden in his next start on Dec. 19 and then won the Dania Beach on Jan. 2. Two back our top pick was a game second at Belmont Park in his second career start. Three he finished ahead of have come back to break their maidens. This colt should have no problem handling two turns. He is by Hard Spun out of the stakes winner Pangburn ($338,480) who is best going long. The colt has been working sharply over the main track here since landing in Hot Springs.

Cowan went turf to dirt last out and was a decent second in the Springboard Mile last out at Remington Park in his first start going long. His three previous starts came sprinting on turf, two back a game second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2) where he was beaten ¾ of a length for the top spot. That race did not come up particularly strong, but neither did this one and he earned the top last out speed fig. The colt put in a bullet breeze over the surface here on Jan. 12. The 9-5 morning line seems light and our top pick seems more likely to end up the favorite in this spot.

Moonlite Strike will travel two turns for the first time in his career here for the Joseph barn. Last out the colt was a game winner going a one turn mile beating Alw-1 optional claimers in his first start against winners. Four he beat have come back to run with a pair running second in their next starts versus Alw-1 company. The colt’s maiden win came two back in the slop in a race taken off the turf at GP West going seven furlongs. He is bred to handle more ground, by Liam’s Map out of a War Chant mare, her first foal to race. He looks as if he still may have some upside and will need it to compete with the top pair in here.


These are price plays for exotic players looking to find a couple of extra contenders to use in their trifecta and superfecta wagers. Or for those with smaller bankrolls, you might want to get in a small win-place wager. 


  • R3: #2 Have a Heart 8-1
  • R4: #1 Lookbothways 8-1
  • R5: #4 Four of Swords 8-1
  • R5: #8 Breithorn 10-1
  • R6: #9 Lady’s Boy 10-1
  • R6: #1 Whats in It for Me 15-1
  • R7: #4 Pazzion 12-1
  • R8: #10 Shadow Caster 15-1

Good luck today!

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