Budding ‘Star’ can upset Go For Wand

The Grade III, $250,000 Go For Wand Handicap is the headliner at Aqueduct this Saturday. A field of seven fillies and mares will go one mile on the dirt in the program’s eighth race, with post time estimated at 3:43 p.m. EST. Be sure to study this race carefully if you’re taking part in FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game!

There are quite a few horses here shipping in from out of town, but I went with a locally-based trifecta in #5 HIGHWAY STAR (8-1), #4 WONDER GAL (9-5), and #3 BAR OF GOLD (8-5, morning-line favorite).

HIGHWAY STAR gets in light having never participated in a graded stakes, but that’s not to say that her résumé is weak. She’s 4-for-6 lifetime and is stepping up off a NY-bred stakes win earned at Aqueduct on Nov. 13. She’s also 2-for-2 going a mile on dirt, which is what she gets today. Angel Arroyo has fared poorly at this current meet (2-for-52) but he’s on a very live mount in HIGHWAY STAR today.

WONDER GAL is still pursuing her first graded stakes score. She’s proven that she can win with ease against inferior competition on multiple occasions, but she’s usually a shrinking violet in a spot like this. However, this isn’t the strongest Grade III field ever, so she could hit the board with a good effort. Kendrick Carmouche will have the reins.

BAR OF GOLD will probably draw the most attention off an 18-length romp in a muddy Empire Distaff at Belmont last time out. The track should come up dry on Saturday, so she won’t have the surface working in her favor this time. This filly tends to get overbet despite her modest-looking form prior to her last effort, so I’m not inspired to bet her on top today. Joel Rosario will be in the saddle.

The play: $8 win 5, $3 exacta key box 5/3,4 ($20)

DFJ analysis: Angel Arroyo ($6,500) can round out your stable for a small fee in order to free up some budget for higher-priced riders. He’s got a good chance to at least hit the board in the Go For Wand with HIGHWAY STAR, and he’s on a couple of live horses throughout the card (5-1 Jess I Am in the second and 6-1 Emiliana’s Hope in the ninth).

Kendrick Carmouche ($9,500) rides a pair of favorites and a second-choice in addition to WONDER GAL in the Go For Wand this Saturday, so consider adding him at a fair price too.

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