Saturday's Heineken Holidayfest at Aqueduct got an added boost when the Pick 6 was not solved on Friday, leading to a carryover of $109,248.
We have four graded stakes on the ten race card including the $350,000 Cigar Mile (G1), which features Groupie Doll taking on the boys.
The other stakes on Saturday's card are the $350,000 Gazelle (G1) for three-year-old fillies, the $250,000 Remsen (G2) for two-year-olds, and the $250,000 Demoiselle (G2) for two-year-old fillies.
Groupie Doll is coming off a victory in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1), her fifth consecutive victory, three of those Grade 1 races.
A fourth Grade 1 race along with a couple of Grade 2 wins this year would put her in the conversation for Horse of the Year, although she would still be a longshot behind Wise Dan.
She won the Filly & Mare Sprint despite racing against an inside speed bias, which makes her look tough although she is coming back off just a three week break.
Her main foes figure to be Stay Thirsty, last year's Travers (G1) winner who is coming off a game second in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1), and Jersey Town, who won the 2010 edition of the Cigar Mile.
In addition to the four graded stakes at the Big A, we have a couple at Churchill Downs and they are included in today's Best Plays Report.
A field of nine two-year-old fillies will line up in the $150,000 Golden Rod (G2), and a wide open group of 13 two-year-olds will go in the $150,000 Kentucky Jockey Club (G2).
Saturday's Best Plays Report includes my nine strongest plays from Aqueduct and Churchill Downs.
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Here is today's opening from Aqueduct to get the day off to a good start:
AQU Race 1 Clm $16,000B (12:00 ET)
6 Winter Now 12-1
7 English Major 5-2
4 Late Starter 3-1
1 Splendiferous 9-2
Analysis: Winter Now gets the call in a wide pen race to start the day. The Contessa colt shipped to the Big M last out where he raced wide throughout in a fifth place finish. Two back in his second start off the claim he checked in a decent fourth. The colt showed mare speed when he was in the Pletcher barn, but after setting the early fractions and fading in his first go off the claim he sat off the pace in his last two. With second out blinkers and the bug Garcia aboard, he may be more of a forward factor against this weak group. Worth a look if he goes off near his 12-1 morning line.
English Major checked in fourth in both starts for a $25K tag after the Rice barn claimed this guy for $25K three back at the Spa. This guy has beaten winners, taking a starter optional claimer over the turf here back in April. The gelding makes his third start of his current form cycle and owns back numbers good enough to beat this group.
WIN: #6 to win at 6-1 or better.
EX: 6,7 / 1,4,6,7
TRI: 6,7 / 1,4,6,7 / 1,4,6,7,10,13
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Aqueduct:
AQU Race 8 The Cigar Mile G1 (3:20 ET)
7 Groupie Doll 8-5
1 Stay Thirsty 7-2
4 Jersey Town 4-1
6 Coil 8-1
Analysis: Groupie Doll takes on the boys here just three weeks after capturing the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1), her fifth consecutive win. The filly was out six wide at the 5/8's and four wide on the turn, drawing off in the stretch to win by 4 1/2 widening lengths. She was one of the few that made up ground or raced wide that had much of an impact on the day as the racing surface was kind to inside speed that day. She has earned solid figs going a one turn mile and she should get a good pace set up in here as it looks as if the early pace will be contested among the three breaking from the inside. If she rolls over this field the way she beat her own sex the past few races she enters the conversation for Horse of the Year.
Stay Thirsty skipped the Breeders' Cup after a solid performance in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) at Belmont Park. The colt dueled for the early lead and entered in the stretch with the lead and it appeared he was going to back up but just kept on plugging away, beaten just a head by Flat Out. He was better than five lengths clear of Fort Larned, who came back to win the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1). The Pletcher trainee won the Travers (G1) and Jim Dandy (G2) last year but is 0 for 4 in 2012. He breaks from the rail with both Associate and Buffum to his outside, and they are both quick. Ramon should be able to get a good trip sitting just off those two and should get the jump on the late runners.
Jersey Town pulled off the upset in this race back in 2010 at 34-1, and then lost his next seven starts before taking the Kelso (G2) in September in a sharp effort. He checked in fifth in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1) last out, drifting out in the stretch. He caught a racing strip that was playing to inside speed and the trip came at two turns. He cuts back to one turn here.
WIN: #7 to win at 9-5 or better.
EX: 1,7 / 1,4,6,7
TRI: 1,7 / 1,4,,67 / 1,4,5,6,7
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Churchill Downs:
CD Race 11 The Kentucky Jockey Club G2 (5:35 ET)
10 Joha 6-1
6 Frac Daddy 4-1
4 Uncaptured 9-5
8 Tesseron 8-1
Analysis: Joha was not a threat last out in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) and maybe would have been better suited racing in the Juvenile on dirt. Two back he took the field gate to wire to win the Breeders' Futurity (G1) over the polytrack at Keeneland and did it while down along a dull rail as most of the winners were traveling in the outer paths that day. He is better than he showed last out on turf and looking for him to bounce back with a better effort here and we should catch a fair price.
Frac Daddy was a good looking maiden winner last out in his second career start and first go around two turns, drawing away to win by 9 3/4 lengths. The colt came back with a bullet drill on Nov. 17 over the main track here and I do not think we have seen the best out of this promising colt yet. I have a feeling he is going to go off less than his 4-1 morning line.
WIN: #10 to win at 4-1 or better.
EX: 6,10 / 4,6,8,10
TRI: 6,10 / 4,6,8,10 / 4,6,8,9,10,12
These are price plays for exotic players looking to find a couple of extra contenders to use in their trifecta and superfecta wagers. Or for those with smaller bankrolls, you might want to get in a small win-place wager.
Mike DempseyMike covers the New York racing circuit (Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga) year round as well as Keeneland, Churchill Downs, the Triple Crown, and the Breeders' Cup. The 2015 Triple Crown saw Mike correctly predict American Pharoah to win both the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. Mike nailed the Exacta and Trifecta in the Belmont Stakes. Mike had a solid 2014 Triple Crown race season, correctly picking the winning horse in 2 of 3 races. He selected I'll Have another to win The Preakness, and nailed Union Rags to win the Belmont Stakes as his top pick. Mike also had past succes in the Kentucky Derby, winning with Animal Kingdom in 2011 and rode his top picks, Super Saver and Street Sense, to the finish line in 2010 and 2007 respectively. No handicapper in the industry works harder to bring you analysis that produces profits at the track! Mike's Reports include his selections, detailed analysis, a fair odds line, and wagering recommendations for the entire card. Join Mike daily with top picks from Belmont or Keeneland. You can also get his Weekend Best Plays Report in his Multi-Track package or sit at the track with him for 30 Days with his Monthly Horse Package!
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Jerry SessaJerry "Shots" Sessa has been involved in horse racing for over 30 years. He now brings his meticulous handicapping style to VegasInsider.com. When Jerry posts picks you are getting his best bets...when you win, he wins. Jerry opened the 2016 Triple Crown season by hitting his Derby Day best bet, Nyquist. He also nailed the Derby exacta for a $30.60 payout. On 4/16/16 at Keeneland, Jerry hit an $819 exacta that led to a $38k Trifecta & a $300k Super.
In the 2015 Belmont Stakes Jerry dominated races 8-11 by hitting a $4,400 Pick 4, 3 Daily Doubles, 2 Pick 3's and calling American Pharoah as the first Triple Crown winner in 36 years. Jerry is always looking to repeat his 2012 Triple Crown success, when he selected the winning horses for The Preakness and The Belmont Stakes. Jerry looks forward to working with everyone and making money for anyone who invests in his picks on a daily basis. Join Jerry daily with picks from
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