Live racing was canceled for Thursday afternoon at Aqueduct due to extreme cold. The temperature this morning was 19 degrees and there is going to be a high of 25 with winds at up to 20 miles per hour.
To be honest we will not miss much as the card on Thursday featured a few short fields and I had trouble coming up with many live longshots. It is four hours of work wasted, but things look brighter this weekend.
Saturday marks the return to 2012 juvenile champion Shanghai Bobby, who is the headliner in the Grade 3 $300,000 Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park.
The race is the first of three key preps for the Run for the Roses at Gulfstream Park. The Fountain of Youth is Feb. 23, and the marquee event of the Gulfstream Park meeting is the Florida Derby, which will be run on March 30.
The Todd Pletcher trainee was undefeated in five starts as a two-year-old, capping off his year by winning the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita Park.
The colt finished gamely to hold off He’s Had Enough by a head and took advantage of a racing strip that was playing to inside speed that day.
The colt is an early favorite to win the Kentucky Derby, but I am not convinced he wants to stay 1 ¼ miles, and the colt did not scare anyone away on Saturday.
Nine foes will line up to take the champion on, and there are several talented runners in the field that can pull off the upset.
The Ken McPeek trained Frac Daddy makes his first start since a neck loss in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs on Nov. 24.
Bern Identity is a two-time stakes winner and makes his first start since running second in the Grade 3 Delta Jackpot on Nov. 17 for trainer Kelly Breen.
Dewey Square was third in the Kentucky Jockey Club and looks as if he still has some upside for Eclipse Award winning trainer Dale Romans, and Itsmyluckyday won the Gulfstream Park Derby on New Year’s Day.
The co-feature on Saturday at Gulfstream Park is the Grade 2 Forward Gal for three-year-old fillies going seven furlongs on the main track.
The race drew five including Kauai Katie, who has won four of her five career starts, most recently taking the Grade 3 Old Hat at Gulfstream Park on New Year’s Day. The filly’s lone loss was a fourth place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies where she was 7 ½ lengths behind the winner Beholder.
An interesting filly in the race is Spring Venture, who will be making her dirt debut. She won her first three races, including the Grade 2 Natalma on turf and the Grade 3 Mazzarine on polytrack, both races coming at Woodbine.
She was the “wise guy” horse for the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Fillies Turf, bet down to 7-2 but she failed to fire in a 13th place finish.
The feature on Saturday at Aqueduct is the $75,000 Affectionately, which drew a compact field of five fillies and mares.
R Gypsy Gold, yet another Pletcher runner, is the 4-5 morning line favorite. The filly was beaten a neck last out in the Ladies Handicap going nine furlongs on the inner track on New Year’s Day.
Withgreatpleasure is coming off three straight runner up finishes, the most recently in the Thirty Eight Go Go at Laurel Park on Dec. 22.
The filly is also entered in the $125,000 Nellie Morse at Laurel Park on Saturday, a race that drew ten plus a couple of runners sitting on the also-eligible list.
If trainer David Nunn elects to keep her home we are going to be looking at a four horse field, and we have seen far too many short fields in stakes at Aqueduct this winter.
Saturday’s Best Plays Report will include my strongest plays from Aqueduct and Gulfstream Park.
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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 Park or grab winners in the Weekend Best Plays Report in the horse racing Multi-Track package. Want more action? 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.
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