03/03/2017 5:04PM

Beer: Aqueduct pick four for Saturday, March 4

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Race 6: GOING STRONG was rated toward the back of the field after failing to break sharply from the gate and could only race on for a distant third in a similar race that came back fast last month; his prior two races were both strong efforts, and there should be more action up front this time with several stretch-out sprinters in the field. PLANET TRAILBLAZER took advantage of a fast pace that was collapsing late to win his maiden at a big price on debut, but he backed that race up well when pulling a nice trip and finishing a clear second ahead of Going Strong in that last one, and he can also benefit from any pace that develops.

Race 7: The entry of STORY TO TELL and STILL KRZ looks strong for trainer Rudy Rodriguez, especially if the former is set to go off the short layoff following his game effort in the Grade 3 Toboggan. Anything like that 103 Beyer Speed Figure effort two starts back would make Story to Tell too much for this field, and Still Krz makes for a capable backup. VORTICITY is an interesting horse returning from an extended layoff, as he was running races early in his career that suggested that he held plenty of potential; this is no easy spot for him to start back, but he can be a backup in the pick four, as can BIG LOUIE D, who has speed to go along with some competitive figures.

Race 8: The Grade 3 Gotham goes straight through EL AREEB, who has dominated most of this crew while annexing the Jerome and Withers in his last two starts. Not sure how good he turns out to be, but he is clearly the horse to beat and a must-use in the pick four. New faces SO CONFLATED and CLOUD COMPUTING seem like the way to go for alternatives to the favorite, and there are things to recommend both of them, but they will all have to improve by quite a bit to defeat the El Areeb we have been seeing recently. Maybe moving inside gives J BOYS ECHO a chance to make things closer with El Areeb in the rematch, as he did flash some ability on the way into that race, but he also must improve. El Areeb is the “A,” but will backup with the others.

Race 9: Realize that ONLY YOU has bombed in his first two starts for this barn, and that he was far behind a few of these in that last one, but he did get hung up wide that day while showing speed early, which left him to chase the pace from the outside all the way on a day when the rail was the place to be. He has the back races to be effective in this spot, and he projects for a good trip up close in a race without all that much pace. Since this is not a race to be leaning on anyone too heavily, I’ll also use the lightly raced SCHOUT BAY, the logical DAN THE MAN, and the second-off-the-layoff SMART RUSSIAN.