04/06/2017 11:23AM

Thursday’s TimeformUS Highlight Horse: Maria Got Even not as slow as appears

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Aqueduct | Race 3 | Post Time 2:29 p.m. (ET) | Go to the TimeformUS PPs 

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Jules N Rome (#3) has been facing tougher company in her recent starts and is getting some needed class relief in this spot. She deserves to be among the favorites, but I do have some concerns about her recent form. She was justifiably considered a top contender in each of her last two starts against New York-bred stakes company, and she disappointed on each occasion. She squandered a relatively easy lead two back and then could not take advantage of an advantageous trip while riding an inside bias last time. She comes into this off a brief layoff while dropping in for a tag for the first time in quite a while, and I'm looking elsewhere. Given the presence of fellow speed horses such as Play Unified (#1) and Browse (#2), I envision an early pace that is at least honest.

Therefore, I'm going to take a shot with the closer in the field, MARIA GOT EVEN (#5).

I know she looks too slow and too cheap, but there are some things to note about this mare. Linda Rice actually started her out at this level in her first start for the barn, which seemed logical given that most of her Panamanian starts had come in sprints. However, Maria Got Even was sluggish in the early going and really got down to running only in the final eighth of a mile. Rice then dropped her way down in class into a $25,000 claimer, seemingly giving up. However, the performance that Maria Got Even put in was a deceptively good one. She was on the rail only briefly in that race, which was run on one of the many days that featured an inside bias, instead making a wide run through the final three-eighths of a mile. Off that effort, Rice now bumps her back up to this $62,500 level, which is a great sign from a barn that is known for placing runners at appropriate class levels. I think we could see a vastly improved performance here.

THE PLAY

Win/Place: 5
Exacta Key Box: 5 with 1,2,3,4
Trifecta: 3,5 with 3,5 with ALL