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At the Gate - Sunday

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Before we get to the Super Bowl we have a little horse racing this afternoon. Or should I call it “The Big Game?” I think I better call it the latter so the NFL lawyers do not give me a call.
 
I am a Maryland bred, but grew up a Washington Redskin fan. I am leaning toward wagering on the 49ers and spending the afternoon asking my wife to pass the chicken wings.
 
We are having a “Big Game” party, but my guests may miss much of the pre-game festivities. Last post at Aqueduct is not until 4:18 ET.
 
I have to admit I got a little case of Derby Fever yesterday as we saw a couple of impressive performances in prep races.
 
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Revolutionary was a very game winner of the Grade 3 Withers at Aqueduct, giving trainer Todd Pletcher yet another top Derby contender.
 
The colt took four tries to break his maiden, but earned a big figure in his maiden score and was sent off as the heavy favorite on Saturday.
 
Under jockey Javier Castellano the colt overcame a troubled trip, as the colt did not have much running room, got shuffled back and then accelerated strongly in the stretch, finding a seam and getting up late to win by a neck.
 
“He didn’t break that sharp and I didn’t panic,” said Castellano. “I think the key with him is that you have to be patient. I could have gone around horses at the three-eighths pole because I had so much horse, but I just wanted to teach him something, have him learn something. I knew he could get it done; in my mind it was just waiting for the best opportunity to make a move. That’s exactly what I did, and he responded so well today. He’s a classy horse. He kind of got intimidated a little bit between horses, he’s a young horse, but I really like the way he did it. He split horses, finished very strong, and galloped out great.”
 
The colt got a really good education in the race and his connections say just one more prep may be in order, possibly the Grade 1 Florida Derby on March 30.   
 
In the Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis the Bob Baffert trained Flashback only had to beat three foes, and he did it in style, taking the field gate to wire and drawing off late under a vigorous hand ride by Julien Leparoux, winning by 6 ¼ lengths.
 
“I think he’s still a little green, it was an easy race, we won easy, and this is a nice horse,” Leparoux said. “If he keeps improving, I think he has a bright future.”
 
Baffert indicated the colt would likely make two more starts before the first Saturday of May, most likely to include the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby on April 6.
 
The Grade 3 Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs worked out well as my second choice Falling Sky took the field gate to wire, returning $17.80. The recommended exacta paid $59.60 and trifecta $153.80.
 
Trained by John Terranova and ridden to victory by Jose Espinoza, the connections had to wait out an objection.
 
Terranova did not indicate what was next for the colt, but the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby on March 9 would be a logical spot or he may wait for the Florida Derby.
 
Sunday’s Best Plays Report includes my eight strongest plays from Aqueduct and Gulfstream Park.
 
Click here to purchase my full card report for Aqueduct for Sunday.
 
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Here is today’s opening from Aqueduct to get the day off to a good start:
 
AQU Race 1 Clm $25,000N2L (12:30 ET)           
8 Sokitumi Samurai  7-2
1 Induce   5-2
3 Secret Shifters   5-1
7 Define   3-1
 
Analysis: Sokitumi Samurai tracked the early pace and finished evenly last out in a runner up finish against $20,000 non-winners of two in the mud. The gelding was claimed out of the race by the Ness barn that is 41% winners (with a +ROI) first off the claim. The gelding bounced back after running fifth two back against starter optional claimers in his first start against winners. He broke his maiden three back for a $25,000 tag by 12 1/2 lengths. The barn was slow to get going in New York but is starting to get on a roll here.
 
Induce is one of three runners in here that previously was in the Dutrow barn. This guy set the early fractions and weakened late to finish third against $30,000 non-winners of two or three-year-olds, unable to take full advantage of an inside speed favoring racing strip. He makes his first start here for the Jacobson barn that is 28% winners (with a +ROI) with newcomers to the barn. The gelding draws the rail and owns the edge in early and mid pace numbers. He figures to move forward in his second career start going two turns.
 
Wagering
WIN: #8 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 1,8 / 1,3,7,8
TRI: 1,8 / 1,3,7,8 / 1,3,4,7,8
 
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Aqueduct:
 
AQU Race 7 OClm $50,000SAL (3:18 ET)
8 Magic Harbor    6-1
5 Washington's Rules   3-1
6 Romancing the Gold   5-2
3 Terminus   6-1
 
Analysis: Magic Harbor was outrun early and came with a good wide rally to finish in the runner up spot last out, catching a racing strip that was playing to inside speed that day. The gelding was claimed out of the race by the RRod barn that is 22% winners first off the claim. It took this guy ten tries to break his maiden and he did it for just $16,000, but his first go against winners was encouraging and is going to get a good pace set up here as there is plenty of early zip signed up to go in this race.
 
Washington's Rules returns off a two month break and lands with the Jacobson barn who takes over from the exiled Dutrow. This gelding was the beaten favorite in each of his last three starts. Last out he dueled for the early lead and could not go with the winner late in a runner up finish going nine furlongs on the main track here. He owns back numbers that are good enough to compete here and the cut back in distance should suit.
 
Wagering
WIN: #8 to win at 4-1 or better.
EX: 5,8 / 3,5,6,8
TRI: 5,8 / 3,5,6,8 / 2,3,5,6,8
 
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Gulfstream Park:
 
GP Race 9 OClm $25,000N1X (4:35 ET)
8 Lotta Distinction   3-1
6 Angel Dreams   6-1
5 Fiscal Fitness    5-1
1 Latin Rocks   8-1
 
Analysis: Lotta Distinction set the early fractions and could not match strides late with the winner in a runner up finish last out at this level, beaten a length for the top spot. The mare won at this level two back at Tampa Bay Downs in her first go off an 11 month layoff. She ran for a tag that day which makes her eligible to run protected here. She looks primed for a good effort here in her third start off the bench.
 
Angel Dreams did not fire last out in a seventh place finish, exiting the same race as our top pick. She was the betting favorite despite coming back off a three month break. She won her two previous starts over the main track here and owns back speed figs that are good enough to win here. Willing to give her a mulligan for her poor showing last out.
 
Wagering
WIN: #8 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 6,8 / 1,5,6,8
TRI: 6,8 / 1,5,6,8 / 1,2,5,6,8
 
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 Sessa
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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