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Steve Matthews’ Aqueduct selections for Friday, Dec. 15

Best bet: THADDEUS (8)

Best value: TAOISEACH (6)

FIRST: J J’s Dreaming compiled tight work tab for first dirt start; primed for breakthrough in weak opener. Givetheman a Cigar has finished second in last two starts; continues trend? Battle of Saratoga made solid late rally in debut and added furlong could play to strength.

SECOND: Schott was pace and position compromised last time and owns faster back figures; call based on price. Micozzi is riding a forward line on internal and final numbers; very dangerous in third start of form cycle. Shoot the Gap makes first start since claimed and can contend on “A” game.

THIRD: Home Run Maker owns sprinter’s speed and could capitalize on soft lead in first two-turn start. Marconi logged solid late-pace figure when making debut at 9-furlong distance last time; could easily take this. Lonely Weekend runs late and could be in the garden spot if pace meltdown ensues.

FOURTH: Asiliveandbreathe makes first start for Michelle Nevin barn after besting a next-out winner when second at Finger Lakes last time; more to come. Simona was a much-improved third in last; developing and dangerous. Midnight Disguise debuts for Linda Rice; follow the money.

FIFTH: Passporttovictory owns speed, adds blinkers and could get the early jump with aggressive ride. Thirst for Truth packs potent late kick and could be the prime beneficiary if top selection hits the wall in the lane. Jump for Joy is fleet-footed and training with a purpose; must be factored into the mix.

SIXTH: Taoiseach is a Big A lover (two wins, one second and two thirds from five starts) and was an even third in first start since three-month layoff last out; primed for forward move. Charming Indy has tallied swift late-pace figures when winning three in a row at Finger Lakes; very playable. Clowney chased swift fractions when a dominant winner last time at Parx; right in the thick of this.

SEVENTH: Alabama Bound makes first dirt start after hard-charging victory on Big A sod last time; transfers razor-sharp form at a price. Zealous Scholar is speedy and firing bullets for first start since July; big-time, front-end threat. Unrepented makes first start for Robertino Diodoro and owns two wins from three starts at Aqueduct; worth long look.

EIGHTH: Thaddeus is fleet-footed and projects as the main speed in first start since claimed by Mike Maker. Deep Sea makes first start for Jason Servis and owns fast figures on best efforts; very dangerous. Scatoga tallied swift late-pace figure when a determined winner last time at Finger Lakes; price will be tempting. Rossie Val is fresh and owns competitive figures on “A” game.

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