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Steve Matthews' Aqueduct selections for Thursday, Dec. 31


Best value: VITANZA (8)

FIRST: Mucho Sunshine could play out as the main speed with aggressive ride in weak opener. Confectioner bested top selection by a nose when a game second on Dec. 10; obvious threat. Height should pack amplified kick with cutback to sprint; don't ignore.

SECOND: Honey Money was compromised by wide trip last time; better journey anticipated. Ok Honey should be aided by added distance; price will be tempting. Ifihadachance and Courageous Girl, uncoupled runners from the Dave Donk barn, are both riding improving lines on the numbers; each demands scrutiny.

THIRD: Heymackit'sjack moves to main track after speed and fade in turf debut; three tight works in the interim seal the deal. Oliver's Fortune was a useful fourth in first start; very interesting. Dancing Buck was a hard-fought second in same race as top selection; vulnerable favorite?

FOURTH: Flat Awesome Jenny gets confident price boost after winning by nearly four lengths last out; pairs up. Rude Awaking is fleet-footed and can prove very tough on a soft lead. Fair Regis makes first start since claimed and owns fast back figures; right in the thick of this.

FIFTH: Prospect Mountain has drilled twice since non-stressful fifth in last; forward move predicted. Fire Sword, a front-end winner in debut at Keeneland, is training with a purpose for return for Wes Ward; could easily take another. Sam and Sy has delivered strong efforts in both starts; be no surprise.

SIXTH: Direct Order starts slow but finishes with gusto; call based on price potential. Its All Relevant owns speed and fast back numbers; very dangerous. Tivano projects to be right in the mix if able to replicate winning effort three starts back; very interesting.

SEVENTH: Jump for Joy tallied fast late-pace figure when a hard-charging second in last; more to come. Letmetakethiscall has worked three times since top-figured score on Nov. 20; big-time player. Dovey Lovey makes third start of form cycle; worth long look at long price.

EIGHTH: Vitanza is fresh and hails from potent layoff stable; breakthrough predicted. Judiciary makes first start with maiden-claiming tag; dangerous. Crick makes first start since claimed by Rudy Rodriguez; must be factored into the mix. Sweet Sneak and Grape Therapy were second in their last starts; neither would surprise.

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