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SportsHorseracing

Steve Matthews' Aqueduct selections for Saturday, Jan. 12

Best Bet: PROXIMATE TO POWER (5); Best Value: IRISH BANKER (1)

FIRST: Irish Banker makes quick return (eight days) after wide trip versus pricier last time; set for best in third start of form cycle. Ladyberg was eliminated by poor start in debut on New Year's Day; worth long look. Devil's Flair made forward move on the numbers last time; don't ignore.

SECOND: Moondance Joy regressed in last after fast-figured placing in previous start; rebounds. Sandy Belle owns speed and swift back numbers; dangerous. Archumybaby owns two wins, a second and a third from last five starts; must consider.

THIRD: Fox Red projects as the controlling speed with aggressive ride from the rail. American Power runs late and could be in the catbird seat if top selection wilts in the lane. Joe's Smokin Gun has fired three straight winning efforts; right in the thick of this.

FOURTH: Rattle the Stars adds blinkers for potent second-out stable (Steve Asmussen); improvement predicted. Heartbustingirl was a clear-cut second behind a 10-length winner in debut; big-time player. Midnitesalright is speedy and drops but has lost ground in the stretch in all five starts; proceed with caution at short odds.

FIFTH: Proximate to Power tallied swift late-pace figure when winning last; pairs up. Javelin fired crisp half-mile work since game placing in last; dangerous. Ultimateenticement has worked three times since being eliminated by bad getaway in last; must be factored into the mix.

SIXTH: Toohottoevenspeak gets favorable cutback to sprint after logging swift pace figure in last; breakthrough predicted. Regalian exits hard-charging win in last; very dangerous. Spartiatis compiled tight work tab for first start since 59-day freshener for Rudy Rodriguez; more than good enough on "A" effort.

SEVENTH: Mr. Dougie Fresh makes first start since claimed by Jason Servis after tallying rapid final fraction when winning last; crisp, half-mile drill on Tuesday seals the deal. Stoney Bennett is speedy, rested and owns fast figures; be no surprise. House Limit demolished maidens by an expanding 16  lengths last out and fired 5-furlong bullet in the interim; right in the thick of this.

EIGHTH: Honor Up notched half-mile bullet since determined score last time; Big A lover. Gold for the King logs fast figures with machine-like consistency; logical, short-priced threat. Celtic Chaos is fresh and packs potent kick on best efforts; very playable.

NINTH: Blue Skies Forever displayed newfound speed in last and could be primed for breakthrough at fat ticket; throw deep in wide-open nightcap. Contessa entry: Theresa's Boy exits same last race as top selection and should be aided by cutback to shorter route and mate Cross Multiply closes; complementary coupling. Flat Out Jayvien runs late and mile distance could be right in his wheelhouse. Holycowits Patrick was an improved fourth in last; don't dismiss.

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