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Steve Matthews’ Aqueduct selections for Friday, Feb. 12


Best Value: EL GRILLO (9)

FIRST: Picture Day makes first start versus N2L rivals and gets favorable cutback to 6 furlongs. She’s All Even looms the main speed on the rail; very playable. Barrier to Entry regressed in last after pairing up placings in prior two starts; must consider.

SECOND: Threes Are Wild was pace compromised last time; more to give in second start since two-month layoff. Firebolt adds blinkers after showing improved speed in last; very dangerous. Bold Illusion drops to lifetime low; wake-up potential.

THIRD: William’sluckygray fired half-mile bullet since even fifth in last start; improvement predicted. Moondance Joy could be in the garden spot if pace meltdown ensues. Ducasa owns fast figs and has been claimed three times by Steve Asmussen; must respect.

FOURTH: Bileaps and Bounds gets confident price hike after front-end score last time; more to come. Midnight Champagne also was a wire-to-wire winner in last and fired half-mile bullet on Saturday; big-time player. Saluda regressed in last after determined win in prior; must consider.

FIFTH: Bluegrass Flash compiled eye-catching work tab for first start since October; primed and ready. Hectors Pride owns fast final fractions and holds sharp current condition; very dangerous. Reverend Green owns speed and fast figures; logical, short-priced player. Manhattan Johnnie also is fleet-footed but has been on the bench since July; must take the good with the bad.

SIXTH: Sonora projects as the speed of the speed with aggressive ride from outside slot. Golden Gem runs late and will be in the catbird seat if top selection hits the wall in the lane. Zippity Zoom was a clear-cut winner on New Year’s Day; fresh and dangerous.

SEVENTH: Casa Gato drops after being pace and position compromised last time; call based on price in wide-open dash. Apache Warrior is speedy and fired 3-furlong bullet on Jan. 29; dangerous. Sherifco also can prove to be a front-end threat on best efforts. Native George can impact at fat ticket if fractions get fast and furious.

EIGHTH: Geaux Mets was a clear-cut winner at this level on New Year’s Eve and logged three tight works in the interim. Global Positioning is training with a purpose for first start since gelded; worth long look. Doctor Dempsey has earned swift numbers in all three starts; logical, short-priced player.

NINTH: El Grillo was speed sharpened in first start since nine-month absence; forward move predicted. Spark to Ignite owns speed and drops to lifetime low; very interesting. Park Ranger makes third race of form cycle after game second in last; be no surprise. El Genio is fleet-footed and fired half-mile bullet on Jan. 22; right in the thick of weak nightcap.


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