How to Bet the Red Smith Handicap at Aqueduct

TwinSpires Staff

November 15th, 2018


Like most sportswriters of his time, Red Smith knew all there was to know about baseball, boxing and horse racing. For most of his career, he was a columnist but wrote in a clear and concise style without the flowery language others use. His description of writing a column was to “sit down at a typewriter, open a vein and bleed.”

Smith, who won a Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 1976 and numerous other awards, died in 1982 and the New York Racing Association honored him by renaming the Edgemere Handicap the Red Smith Handicap.

Since 1994, the Red Smith (G3) has been run at 1 3/8 miles around three turns on the inner turf course. With the rail out at 18 feet, only 10 will be allowed to run in the overflow 16-horse field. So that leaves three on the also-eligible list and three entered for main track only. Mike Maker has three in the main body of the race and Todd Pletcher two.

With the days getting short, the turf season is grinding down in New York. The constant rain has been a battle to keep races on the turf so a $200,000 stakes race is very popular this time of year. Let’s hope the inner turf course is able to be used after Thursday’s rain.

Mike Maker has thrived with distance horses on the turf. Part of it is he trains for Ken and Sarah Ramsey, who had many runners by their top stallion Kitten’s Joy. But part of it is his ability to make expensive claims for established turf runners and stretch them out. In November of 2015, Maker claimed #8 BIGGER PICTURE for $32,000 and he has earned over $1 million since then. His victories include the United Nations (G1), two runnings of the John Connally (G3) and the Red Smith two years ago. Still firing at the age of seven, Bigger Picture just missed going 1 ½ miles at Kentucky Downs in their Turf Cup (G3) and was third last out at Keeneland against similar company.

The Ramseys have #5 SOGLIO, who was claimed for $50,000 11 months ago at Gulfstream Park. He has good galloping speed and can run up on the pace if Johnny Velazquez chooses to send her. #3 ZULU ALPHA represents the third Maker trainee. Haltered for $80,000 two starts back going much shorter, the gelding came right back to win the Sycamore (G3) at Keeneland going 1 ½ miles. The son of Street Cry hails from a dam by A. P. Indy and is bred to run all day.

Todd Pletcher has Brazilian import #4 GALOPE AMERICANO, who won a Group 1 stakes race going 1 ½ miles on heavy turf and followed with a Group 3 tally under similar conditions. He raced evenly in his American debut last month at Belmont and now stretches way out with Jose Ortiz. The other Pletcher trainee is Argentinian #2 VILLAGE KING, who won the Argentine Jockey Club (G1) before a good third in the Carlos Pellegrini (G1). In his first start in America, the four-year-old tired going 1 1/16 miles on the turf at Churchill Downs against allowance foes after showing good speed and came back at Belmont to miss going gate to wire by a neck. His sire, Campanologist, won the German Jockey Club (G1) and could run all day on any ground.

You can’t have a graded stakes race on the turf in New York without a runner from Chad Brown and he has #6 CALL PROVISION in the main body of the field. The New York-bred just missed in last year’s renewal and that is his only loss in four starts on the turf here. If you don’t have tactical speed to hug the fence and save ground, you need to have the ability to pass horses suddenly and #6 Call Provision has both. Irad Ortiz Jr. rides back – 26% riding for Brown the past two months.

Shug McGaughey is always dangerous on the turf and he sends out #7 INSPECTOR LYNLEY. He won the Tampa Bay Stakes (G3) last year and has knocked around against decent company going shorter since then. This is his first try going three turns but the son of Lemon Drop Kid should be able to handle it. Most Shug runners are put to sleep early and Jose Lezcano, who won aboard him back in August at Saratoga, will probably drop the reins away from the gate and try to get him into a rhythmic beat until the running gets serious.


Regardless of the condition of the turf, I am going with #3 Zulu Alpha. He has strong cruising speed and won his first time going long against this class level. He draws well with Luis Saez and he should have the lead at some point turning for home.


Win & Place:



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


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