02/11/2017 12:01PM

Saturday’s TimeformUS Highlight Horse: Drama King finally gets a dry track in the Hollie Hughes

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Aqueduct | Race 8 | Post Time 4:20 p.m. (ET) | Go to the TimeformUS PPs 

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I think there's more going on in this race than initially meets the eye. Obviously, morning-line favorite Bond Vigilante is the horse to beat. While he’s clearly been in excellent form through his recent starts, it is worth noting the he has received very favorable pace setups in a few of those races, particularly in his two most recent starts. In the TimeformUS PPs, note the blue color-coded paces (indicating slow fractions) in those starts, as well as the pink color-coded race rating box two back, indicating a surface that was favoring speed.

The Pace Projector is predicting that Bond Vigilante will again be forwardly placed in a situation favoring the front-runners. However, it's hard to imagine that Manny Franco on Bustin It, who is drawn directly to his outside, would just concede the lead. Why else is Bustin It in this race if not to try to wire the field? If these two hook up early, it could create a more level playing field for the others.

The runner likely to be leading the second flight stalking the leaders is Loki’s Vengeance. Which version of this horse will we get today? He was brilliant two back when earning an impressive 118 TimeformUS Speed Figure for his runaway win in the New York Stallion Series, but he then never got involved in his following start in the Gravesend. That last race was run over a muddy, sealed track, and he appears to run better over fast going. I don’t completely trust him, but I also can’t throw him out.

There are a few intriguing late runners in this race, but the one who I think will offer the best value is DRAMA KING (#3).

I recognize that this horse's recent performances leave a lot to be desired. However, he absolutely despises wet tracks, which he has encountered in three straight starts. He's also had other excuses, like last time, when he was racing on a dead rail at Laurel. His races from earlier last year are good enough to give him a big chance here, and I find it hard to believe that Rudy Rodriguez – who has pulled off his fair share of miracles at this meet – would enter this horse in such a tough spot if he didn't expect a form reversal.

THE PLAY

Win/Place: 3

Exacta Key Box: 3 with 2,4,5,8

Trifecta: 3 with 5,8 with 2,4,5,6,7,8