We have three Derby preps on Saturday afternoon, with the winner of each race earning 10 points under the new program that Churchill Downs invented to determine the starting field for the Run for the roses on May 4.
At Aqueduct a field of eight will go 1 1/16 miles on the inner track in the Grade 3 Withers. Todd Pletcher will send out the 3-5 morning line favorite Revolutionary, coming off a maiden score in his fourth career start in which he earned a 102 Beyer Speed Figure.
At Santa Anita a field of four (yes, FOUR) will head to the gate in the Grade 2 $200,000 Robert B. Lewis. Hall of fame trainer Bob Baffert will saddle half the field including the 3-5 morning line favorite Flashback.
The best wagering race of the three Derby preps is the Grade 3 $250,000 Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs where a field of ten will line up led by the Mark Casse entry of Northern Lion and Dynamic Sky, who are the 9-5 morning line favorites.
Dynamic Sky is the stronger half of the entry and comes into the race off a victory in the Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.
I am going with My Name Is Michael, who will be making his first start on conventional dirt after the colt was a good second last out in the Display at Woodbine on polytrack. The winner Avie's Quality came back to run poorly in a eighth place finish in the LeComte (G3) at Fair Grounds in his next outing.
The colt lands with the hall of fame Bill Mott barn that is 23% winners with newcomers to the barn. The colt sure has the pedigree to handle two turns on dirt, by Macho Uno out of a Vindication mare.
Joel Rosario gets the call and the colt is sitting at 4-1 on the morning line.
Tampa Bay Downs has a couple of Grade 3’s on the undercard. I included my selections and analysis for the $150,000 Florida Oaks and $150,000 Endeavour in Saturday’s Best Plays Report along with my strongest plays from Aqueduct and Gulfstream Park.
Analysis: Mordi's Miracle jumped up with a huge maiden score last out going a mile on the main track. The colt dueled for the early lead and drew off to win by 9 1/2 lengths. The colt got off to a shaky start, dumping the jock in his debut and then was beaten double digit lengths in his next two starts. Pletcher has him heading in the right direction and the colt popped a bullet work on Jan. 29 for his first go against winners here.
Box Office beat starter optional claimers last out in his first trip on the inner track and only our top pick earned a higher last out speed fig. The colt owns a solid pace profile throughout with the edge in late pace numbers. He makes his first start here for the Chad Brown barn that is 29% winners with newcomers to the barn. He takes over for the exiled Dutrow.
WIN: #7 to win at 2-1 or better.
EX: 6,7 / 2,5,6,7
TRI: 6,7 / 2,5,6,7 / 2,4,5,6,7
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Aqueduct:
AQU Race 9 The Withers (4:18 ET) 1 Long River / 1a Valid 7-2 2 Revolutionary 3-5 4 Amerigo Vespucci 15-1 3 Escapefromreality 6-1
Analysis: Long River finished behind a couple of these when he was fourth in the Jerome (G2) last out in his first start against winners. The colt stalked the early pace, was in between foes on the far turn and could not make up much ground in the stretch. He did catch a racing strip that was playing to inside speed that day. He earned a big fig last fall in his second start in a game runner up finish behind the highly regarded Delhomme, who came back run a close up third in the Remsen (G2) in his next start. He adds lasix to the mix here and appears to have the best shot of beating the chalk. I love his pedigree, by A.P. Indy out of the multiple stakes winner Round Pond ($1.9 million).
Revolutionary really took to the inner track and his first start around two turns, a much the best winner last out going a mile where he drew off to win by 8 1/2 lengths and earned a 102 Beyer. The runner up Transparent came back to graduate in his next outing with a 71 Beyer. He can regress several lengths and still likely beat this group, but the 3-5 morning line sure looks light. He was a $235,000 Ocala purchase, by War pass out of the stakes winner Runup the Colors ($555,024).
Amerigo Vespucci shipped into New York from Maryland last out for the Jerome and he ran well, rallying from off the pace over the speed friendly racing strip to land third at odds of 39-1. It was his first trip going long after a couple of good efforts in runner up finishes in stakes company at Laurel Park sprinting. He comes back here with blinkers added and a couple of bullet drills on the morning work tab.
WIN: #1 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 1,2 / 1,2,3,4
TRI: 1,2 / 1,2,3,4 / 1,2,3,4,5
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Gulfstream Park:
GP Race 10 The Hutcheson G2 (5:05 ET) 7 Undrafted 12-1 5 Merit Man 3-1 3 Weekend Hideaway 6-1 1 Forty Tales 4-1
Analysis: Undrafted exits the Gulfstream Park Derby where the gelding set the early fractions and weakened to finish third behind the impressive Itsmyluckyday, who came back to run even better next out winning the Holy Bull (G3). The cut back suits and the blinkers come off this guy here. His win two back came on turf and his maiden score came on poly. The gelding put in a bullet drill over the main track here on Jan. 29 and he looks as if he should be sitting on a good effort here third off the bench. Worth a look if he goes off near his 12-1 morning line.
Merit Man has won three of four races, the lone loss coming in the Breeders' Cup Sprint where he was beaten just a nose in a tough beat. Note he was without lasix in that outing, but was up front on a racing strip that was playing to speed that day. Last out off a two month break the colt dueled for the early lead and held on gamely to win the Spectacular Bid in his first trip over the main track here. The colt owns a solid pace profile throughout and looks like a good fit here. The Hess barn has been sending out live runners at the meeting, hitting at a 33% clip.
Weekend Hideaway makes his first start off a four month break for the Serpe barn. He won the state bred Bongard last out at Belmont Park over a wet track. Two came out of the race to win next out including the fifth place finisher Smooth Bert, who won the New York bred Damon Runyon in his next start on Dec. 9. The barn is 1 for its last 15 with runners coming back off a 61-180 day layoff.
WIN: #7 to win at 8-1 or better.
EX: 5,7 / 1,3,5,7
TRI: 5,7 / 1,3,5,7 / 1,3,5,7,10
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.
R2: #5 Music Man Stan 15-1
R3: #2 Crespo 12-1
R4: #1 Let Me Enchant U 8-1
R5: #3 Physical Delivery 10-1
R6: #6 Lara 10-1
R7: #9 Good Karma 12-1
R8: #2 Sinai 8-1
R9: #4 Amerigo Vespucci 15-1
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 each day with daily picks from Belmont and Churchill Downs or capture the 2nd jewel in the Triple Crown with Mike's Preakness Stakes package. 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.
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