At the Gate - Friday
February 1, 2013
By Mike Dempsey
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The New York Racing Association announced that racing at Aqueduct will be scaled back to four days a week starting next week. There will be no racing on Feb. 6, Feb. 13-14, and Feb. 27, as well as March 6 and March 13.
The move is response to the shorter fields this year, which have averaged 6.9 runners per race compared to 7.9 at the meeting last year. There have been fewer horses shipping in from other states this year.
The cut back to four days a week hopefully will increase field size. The NYRA will continue to card nine races a day and will add a race on Saturday to go to ten.
There are ten races carded for Saturday which includes four stakes. However, even the stakes races have suffered from short fields, and tomorrow is no exception.
The $100,000 Correction drew a field of six with five betting interests, the $100,000 Busher drew only five, the Grade 3 $150,000 Toboggan has six going, and the Grade 3 $200,000 Withers drew the biggest field of all the stakes with seven entered.
The Withers is one of three races on Saturday with points up for grabs in Churchill Downs’ “Road to the Kentucky Derby.”
The others are the Grade 3 $250,000 Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs and the Grade 2 $200,000 Robert. B. Lewis at Santa Anita.
I will include my selections for the Sam F. Davis and the other stakes from Tampa Bay Downs in my Best Plays Report for Saturday, along with the stakes action from Gulfstream Park and my strongest plays from Aqueduct.
I will take a look at the Robert. B Lewis, but the race drew just four runners, two from the Bob Baffert barn, Den’s Legacy and Flashback. The vast majority of races with five or fewer runners don’t interest me from a betting standpoint, and I wish tracks would refuse to write races that are so unbettable.
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Here is today’s opening from Aqueduct to get the day off to a good start:
AQU Race 1 OClm $35,000N3L (12:30 ET)
4 Rigby 3-1
1 Driven by Solar 5-2
6 Saturday's Charm 2-1
3 Vexor 4-1
Analysis: Rigby regressed last out against Alw-2 optional claimers in his first start off the claim by the Kenneally barn. The six year old had to steady while tiring and checked in seventh behind repeat winner Pleaseandthankyou, who beat Alw-2 optional claimers in his next outing on Jan. 20. He beat Alw-2 optional claiming company three back and earned three solid figs before failing to fire his best last out. He has run well on the inner track in the past and looking for him to bounce back with a better effort here.
Driven by Solar took the field gate to wire to beat $15,000 starter handicap foes last out in his second start off the claim by Jacobson. He was beaten just a neck behind repeat winner Pleaseandthankyou two back in his first go off the claim. This guy also loves the inner surface, winning six of his 13 starts here. He owns a solid pace profile throughout and the top last out speed fig.
WIN: #4 to win at 2-1 or better.
EX: 1,4 / 1,4,6
TRI: no play
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Aqueduct:
AQU Race 8 OClm $75,000 (3:48 ET)
2 Lucci the Lion 7-2
1 Laila's Jazz 3-1
4 Leilani's Ticket 5-1
7 I'm Stocked 2-1
Analysis: Lucci the Lion dueled for the early lead from the outside and weakened to finish fourth last out over a wet track in his first go on the inner track and first start off a two month break. The colt showed some promise breaking his maiden in his debut and then was in a bot tough in his next two starts, against open Alw-1 foes and the state bred Bongard. The colt came back with a bullet drill on Jan 25 and is in good hands with the RRod barn.
Laila's Jazz cuts back from a mile where the colt was not a threat in the state bred Damon Runyon over a sloppy track. The colt beat state bred Alw-1 foes in his first start against winners back in September off a two month break. He drops out of stakes company and looks well spotted here for the Contessa barn.
WIN: #2 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 1,2 / 1,2,4,7
TRI: 1,2 / 1,2,4,7 / 1,2,3,4,7
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.
R4: #5 Magna G 15-1
R5: #5 Dandy’s Noble 8-1
R6: #5 City Gone Wild 8-1
R6: #8 Life’s a Stage 10-1
Good luck today!
HORSE RACING EXPERT
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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