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At the Gate - Sunday

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Wise Dan was the star at the 42nd Eclipse Awards last night, taking down the hardware for Turf Male, Older Male, and Horse of the Year.
 
The Charles Lopresti trainee won five of six starts in 2012 including three Grade 1 races on turf. The gelding also won the Grade 3 Ben Ali on polytrack, and just missed winning a Grade 1 on dirt, coming up a head short to Ron the Greek in the Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs.
 
Wise Dan became the first horse since John Henry in 1981 to win three awards in the same year.
 
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Ramon Dominguez, recovering at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center with a fractured skull after being involved in a spill during the running of Friday's seventh race at Aqueduct won his third consecutive Eclipse Award for top jockey.
 
Fellow jockeys John Velazquez and Javier Castellano accepted the award on his behalf.
 
There were no real surprises, and most of the voting was not close except for the Three-Year Old Filly division, where Questing edged My Miss Aurelia by just four votes.
 
Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner I’ll Have Another was second in Horse of the Year voting and easily won the Eclipse Award for top Three-Year-Old.
 
The Bill Mott trained Royal Delta won her second consecutive Eclipse for top Older Female. The filly won four of her seven starts in 2012 including the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic.
 
Winners:
Horse of the Year: Wise Dan
Two-Year-Old Male: Shanghai Bobby
Two-Year-Old Filly:  Beholder
Three-Year-Old Male:  I’ll Have Another
Three-Year-Old Filly:  Questing
Older Male:  Wise Dan
Older Female: Royal Delta
Male Sprinter:  Trinniberg
Female Sprinter: Groupie Doll
Male Turf Horse: Wise Dan
Female Turf Horse: Zagora
Steeplechase Horse: Pierrot Lunaire
Owner: Godolphin Racing LLC
Breeder:  Darley
Jockey: Ramon Dominguez
Apprentice Jockey: Jose Montano
Trainer: Dale Romans
 
Sunday’s Best Plays Report includes my eight strongest plays from Aqueduct and Gulfstream Park.
 
Purchase my Monthly Package and receive an entire month of Aqueduct action and my weekend Best Plays Reports for just $99.95.
 
Here is today’s second race (the opener features a 2-5 chalk) from Aqueduct to get the day off to a good start:
 
AQU Race 2 Md Sp Wt (12:58 ET)
2 Sneaky Freud    9-5
5 Cobalto   2-1
1 Rocket Hero   5-1
3 Sunrise Lover    15-1
 
Analysis: Sneaky Freud invades from Canada and makes his first start on conventional dirt here. Ramon could have been off to a good start riding the chalks in the first two races but instead is still in the hospital after a spill Friday so there will be a jock switch. The colt was beaten just ahead in his debut and then last out in for a $40,000 tag he again came out on the wrong end of a photo. He faces state breds here while landing with the Pletcher barn that is 33% winners with newcomers to the barn. He had a good breeze over the training track at Belmont Park and figures to be tough here in his local debut completing a chalky early double.
 
Cobalto pressed the early pace and weakened to finish third last out over a wet track that was splaying to inside speed. The colt was a decent fourth in his debut two back, and has been overlooked on the tote in both starts, 17-1 in his debut and 14-1 last out. In his debut the third place finisher Ghostly Vision was a next out grad while the winner Commandante was beaten just a head and a nose when third versus state bred Alw-1 optional claimers. He figures to be in the mix early and speed was holding up well here yesterday.
 
Wagering
WIN: #2 to win at 7-5 or better.
EX: 2,5 / 1,2,3,5
TRI: 2,5 / 1,2,3,5 / 1,2,3,5,7
 
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Aqueduct:
 
AQU Race 7 The Turnofthecentury (3:18 ET)
2 Brigand    7-5
3 Socialsaul   4-1
6 Uncle T Seven   10-1
5 Mine Over Matter    6-1
 
Analysis: Brigand was scratched out of yesterday's Evening Attire and finds a good spot here taking on state breds. Last out the colt took the field gate to wire to win the City of Laurel going seven furlongs, his third win in his last four starts. He rolled over state breds three and four back and he ran second in the Jerome (G2) last April. He owns the edge in early and mid pace numbers and should be able to wire this group over a surface that as quite speed friendly yesterday.
 
Socialsaul tracked the early pace from the inside and could not catch the gate tow ire winner last out in a runner up finish in the state bred Alex M. Robb. The effort was his first go off a three month break and he figures to be fitter here today. The gelding has lost 11 races in a row since taking the state bred New York Derby at Finger Lakes in July of '11. He was 27-1 last out and will be much lighter in this spot.
 
Wagering
WIN: #2 to win at 6-5 or better.
EX: 2,3 / 2,3,6
TRI: no play
 
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Gulfstream Park:
 
GP Race 10 The Kitten's Joy (5:05 ET)
4 Charming Kitten   2-1
8 Flying Bird   4-1
5 Fire Guard   3-1
2 Summit County   6-1
 
Analysis: Charming Kitten made a good late rally to finish in the runner up spot last out in the Dania Beach, beaten a half-length for the top spot. The colt ran well three back on the turf in the With Anticipation (G2) in his first go against winners, checking in third behind Balance the Books, who came back to win the Bourbon (G2) and then check in third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1). He has shown he can handle ground with some give to it and should get  good pace set up. He is a half to stakes winner Queen'splatekitten ($387,313).
 
Flying Bird beat Alw-1 foes last out at Churchill Downs in his first start against winners. The third place finisher Summit County came out of the race to beat Alw-1 optional claimers in his next outing on Dec. 19 and also is going in this spot. The colt is perfect in two starts on turf and looks like he still may have some upside. The Zito barn has been sending out live runners at the meeting, 15 of 27 landing in the exacta.
 
Wagering
WIN: #4 to win at 9-5 or better.
EX: 4,8 / 2,4,5,8
TRI: 4,8 / 2,4,5,8 / 2,4,5,7,8
 
Live Longshots:
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.
 
Aqueduct
R1: #1 Ambassador Bridge   20-1
R2: #3 Sunrise Lover   15-1
R4: #6 Regular Business   10-1
R4: #1 Bluegrass Springs   10-1
R7: #6 Uncle T Seven   10-1
 
Good luck today!

  
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  HORSE RACING EXPERT
  Mike Dempsey
Mike 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.
Last Year Mike had a solid Triple Crown, 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 has 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.

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Jerry "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.

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