01/07/2017 12:18PM

Saturday’s TimeformUS Highlight Horse: Joy Drive can rebound in his second start off the layoff

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Aqueduct | Race 8 | Post Time 3:29 p.m. (ET) | Go To The TimeformUS PPs

This race figures to feature a strong early pace. The TimeformUS Pace Projector is predicting that confirmed frontrunners Curious Cal, Little Popsie, and Imasuperstar will all be vying for the lead in the opening furlongs. Of that group, Curious Cal appears most likely to still be around at the finish, but I don’t completely trust him as the morning-line favorite. He’s coming out of two straight races that appeared to favor horses with speed and now must overcome adversity while facing a tougher field.

Stalking types Candid Desire and Roll Tide Roll both drew better post positions toward the outside of the starting gate and are coming into this race in excellent form. They are the two biggest dangers, in my opinion.

Given the projected pace scenario, there are a number of late-running contenders who are worth considering. Yet there’s just one whom I want to focus on at what should be a decent price.

Unlike deep closers Divine Interventio and Lazarus Project, JOY DRIVE (#6) is not quite as dependent on pace and does have the tactical speed to stay relatively close early. This lightly raced colt showed some promise in his second start as a 3-year-old, losing to eventual stakes winner Bust Another by only a half-length. He returned from a lengthy layoff last time and actually ran a much stronger race than it appears. Though it was not noted in the chart comments, he was steadied sharply at the top of the stretch, losing valuable momentum before rerallying late. I think he can move forward off that race for Linda Rice, who gets a 97 TimeformUS Trainer Rating with runners making their second start off a layoff.

THE PLAY

Win/Place: 6
Exacta Key Box: 6 with 1,5,7,8,11