12/30/2016 11:48AM

Friday's TimeformUS Highlight Horse: Backsideofthemoon should relish the stretch-out in distance

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Aqueduct | Race 8 | Post Time 3:50 EST | Go To The TimeformUS PPs

Given the strong recent performances of runners sent out by trainer Rudy Rodriguez, Stormin Monarcho (#4) has to be considered the horse to beat off the claim. While he's gotten back into better form in recent starts, he’s been beating up on weaker company in those $32,000 claiming races. He would have to improve once again today, which is certainly possible as he switches barns. On the other hand, it's not as if he wasn't in the hands of a capable claiming trainer before, as he raced for David Jacobson up until his second-to-last start. I have to use this favorite in exotics, but I want to take a shot against him.

The other runner that most will fear is Second City (#5). This gelding had everything in his favor when he won last time, catching a fast pace and getting to sit off a three-way speed duel that hindered the chances of his main rivals. I'm not convinced that he's quite as effective over a fast track and don't believe he'll offer sufficient value today.

My alternative is BACKSIDEOFTHEMOON (#3).

I admit that I've been a fan of this horse, but I think he's landed in a good spot. Even though he finished off the board, his return race was actually quite encouraging. Six-and-a-half furlongs is too short for this lumbering son of Malibu Moon, but I loved the way he finished through the final furlong. He took a major step forward when stretched out off his sprint debut at the start of his career, and I'm expecting similar improvement in his second start back from a layoff here. While Stormin Monarcho may play out as the controlling speed, Backsideofthemoon does possess tactical speed that will allow him to stay close if jockey Rosario Montanez decides to use it.

THE PLAY

Win: 3

Exacta key box: 3 with 1,2,4,5

Trifecta: 3 with 4,5 with 1,2,4,5