02/18/2016 4:56PM

Meadowlands: Saturday 2/20 Analysis

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MEET STATS: 94 - 313 / $544.70 (-$81.30)  BEST BETS: 12 - 23 / $49.90 (+$3.90)

Best Bet: ROCKEYED OPTIMIST (8th)

Spot Play: CONNECTING FLIGHT (2nd)

Race 1

(8) MESMERIZED came up flat in his debut for this barn but perhaps that can be attributed to missing more than two months of action. I'm going to take another shot at what seems likely to be a decent price. (1) BJANTHONY blew them away a week ago and is clearly the one to beat again. (5) LAZURUS has been knocking at the door. Maybe the addition of Gingras in the bike will get him over the top.

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Race 2

(8) CONNECTING FLIGHT showed no signs of bad behavior and dominated at this level last week. The best part is that he should still offer fair value due to the presence of (5) MISSILE J, who looked like he was shot out of a cannon in the stretch in his last start. (3) CHILLN MATISSE wasn't bad in his career debut; more now?

Race 3

(2) WORLD CUP came up empty in the stretch last time but there were a few from this barn that raced similarly (see first race pick). Classy 7-year-old is in cheap and should show what he is made of tonight. (4) TWO HIP DIP couldn't sustain his rally on the rim when dropped to this condition last week. I'm not giving up on him yet. (7) STONEBRIDGE IDOL moves down in class and has the early speed to make some noise.

Race 4

(7) BO'S SO HOT was sneaky good in his qualifier. In a field lacking form, I'll take a shot. (8) MR DE LUCA has displayed enough at times to win here but has yet to get that elusive trip to the winner's circle. (3) BRISK CLIPPER is 0 for 27 since the start of 2015, but he does have a couple of third-place finishes in his last three starts.

Race 5

(4) STRATOCASTER has proven himself a major contender in this condition and only needs a reasonable trip to win. (1) ADDWATER moves back to the inside and seems to be in a prime spot to attempt one brush to the front. (2) ESCAPE THE NEWS will enjoy the move back to an inside post.

Race 6

(1) SPEED TRAP clearly needed the race last time after missing three months of action. He is fast enough to compete and should offer some value. (5) MUDSLIDE looks fine on paper if you ignore the recent scratched-sick line. (7) GIANT SLAYER has been awesome in consecutive weeks. Can he handle another class rise? (10) LATE NIGHT JOKE returns to the Big M at a much reduced level; worth including on your pick 4 and 5 tickets.

Race 7

(4) ALEX BULLVILLE was flat last week but that was a spot where I wasn't expecting a big effort. Now he returns to the basement condition and gets Gingras in the bike. (3) JUNGLE OF TERROR & (5) HERE COMES SWIFTY are also dropping down the class ladder and either seems capable. (1) FOR A BETTOR TIME should stick close from the inside and get a piece of the pie.

Race 8

(7) ROCKEYED OPTIMIST raced very well off the bench and actually better than I expected in his 2016 debut. This guy should be ready to roll now. (6) ASLAN wasn't going far from post eight at Yonkers. This looks like a spot that should be up his alley. (4) SWEET BEACH went a serious mile on the engine while finishing third last out. I wouldn't be shocked if he raced well again at a good price.

Race 9

(7) ART HISTORY is another Steve Elliott trainee who put in a credible effort after a long layoff last week. One would think this 5-year-old will be showing some early speed this week and take the field a long way. (1) JET AIRWAY is clearly sharp but can't seem to get his picture taken. (9) KINGOFTHEJUNGLE wasn't as bad as the seventh-place finish looks last week and he does drop down a notch this time.

Race 10

(5) ROCKIN THE HOUSE has plenty of mile track experience and has won at the Meadowlands in the past. He ships in sharp for a solid barn and should have a big shot in a competitive race. (4) ALLSTAR LEGEND was locked in the pocket last Saturday and while he looks like a serious contender tonight, you know he'll be overbet. (6) HOPE FOR BADLANDS drops back down to the level of his last win, but this is a better field than he beat that night. (9) ROCK OUT almost went down the road in his first start since September; improvement is likely. (2) FIRST OF ITSKIND came home fast with no chance last week; another contender.

Race 11

(3) MCARDLES LIGHTNING had no shot but flew home in 26 2/5 in his first start since September. He is just another of many Elliott-trained horses that have a big chance. (1) COBALT MAN finds a field without a ton of early speed and could take charge. (5) DUNE DUDE has been looming week after week and could get over the top at some point.

Race 12

(3) YIPPITY HANOVER added Lasix and responded with a strong late rally last time. He could finally be ready to win again. (6) INTHEBLINKOFANEYE has high early speed and plenty of form; must use. (2) GOLD ROCKS & (1) LENNON BLUE CHIP are both dropping back down to the NW5000 condition and either seems capable.

Race 13

(4) PIECE OF THE ROCK never got into the action from post 10 last week. This time around he gets in against a field that seems ripe for a down the road winner and he should have every opportunity if those tactics are taken. (2) UF LARRY ALLTHEWAY hasn't exactly had the smoothest of trips recently but is clearly in form and should stick close to the action. (6) WAYWARD SON has a chance to surprise if they surprisingly mix it up on the front; using underneath.

Race 14

(4) THAT'S MY OPINION seems to pace the same speed week after week and it just comes down to whether the rest of the field can go quicker. This race shapes up as a slow one on paper and should suit him nicely. (3) BOOGIEWOOGIEBRIAN has early speed and could take this dull group a long way. (6) THE GREEN KNIGHT took a tour of the track after a long break; more now? (1) DREAMZZZ R FOR U should try to stick close from his inside post.

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