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At the Gate - Thursday

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Wednesdays have become kind of boring without racing at Aqueduct, but we are back in action at the Big A on Thursday afternoon with a solid nine race card and we have a great weekend of betting action coming up.
 
The Road to the Kentucky Derby gets serious starting on Saturday, as the points go from 10-4-2-1 for the top four finishers to 50-20-10-5 for upcoming key Derby preps.
 
The 50 points for winners starting with Saturday’s Grade 2 Fount of Youth at Gulfstream Park and the Grade 2 Risen Star at Fair Ground should be enough to earn a starting berth in the gate for the Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs on May 4.
 
The Todd Pletcher trained Violence is the 9-5 morning line favorite for the Fountain of You. The colt will be making his three-year-old debut after winning all three of his starts last year, capping off the year by winning the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park on Dec. 15.
 
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The Saturday card at Gulfstream Park also includes the Grade 2 Davona Dale and the Grade 3 Canadian Turf. I will have my selections and analysis for all three stakes in Saturday’s Best Plays Report.
 
Fair Grounds features six stakes on Saturday including the Risen Star, which drew an overflowing field of 15, with a maximum of 14 heading to the starting gate.
 
The Chad Brown trainee Normandy Invasion is the 5-2 morning line favorite. The colt makes his first start since a nose loss in the Grade 2 Remsen last November.
 
Others that figure to be in the mix include Grade 3 Delta Jackpot third place finisher Mylute (6-1), Grade 3 LeComte victor Oxbow (5-1), and last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile runner up He’s Had Enough (10-1). 
 
Click here to purchase my full card report for Aqueduct for Thursday.
 
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 opening from Aqueduct to get the day off to a good start:
 
AQU Race 1 Md $16,000 (12:30 ET)
6 Dream of Scipio   7-5
7 Fairy Snow   5-2
5 Shadon   4-1
2 Like a Boss / 2b El Bagre   8-1
 
Analysis: Dream of Scipio ships in from Gulfstream Park where the gelding set the early fractions and could not go with the winner late in a runner up finish for a $12,500 tag, beaten 2 3/4 lengths for the top spot. The fourth place finisher in the race was Gold Vegas, who came back to graduate for a $12,500 tag in his next outing on Feb. 8. The gelding has five starts and landed in the bottom half of the exacta in three of those outings including a neck loss at Tampa Bay against $25,000 foes in his second career start. He adds lasix here and lands with the Antonucci barn that we have had good luck backing. The main drawback here is going to be the puny price as he faces a weak looking group in his local debut.
 
Fairy Snow makes his debut for the Rice barn that is on the light side with firsters, hitting at a 6% clip. The $55,000 Ocala purchase is by Yes It's True (14% winners with debut runners) out of a stakes placed Wild Again mare that has dropped four foals to race, three winners, top earner Majestic Melody ($108,456). The works are nothing special but neither is the competition here.
 
Wagering
WIN: #6 to win at 7-5 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 6 Md $60,000 (2:50 ET)
1 Blue Ballerina    2-1
2 Saturday Nthe Park   5-2
5 G Anna   4-1
7 Iratinelexburance   5-1
 
Analysis: Blue Ballerina pressed the early pace from the outside and weakened to finish fourth last out and drops back in for a tag here for the RRod barn. The trainer claimed this gal for $50,000 three back in a race she was beaten just a nose. She owns the edge in early and mid pace numbers and breaking from the rail she looks quick enough to clear early which will make her tough to catch here.
 
Saturday Nthe Park hesitated slightly at the break and was forced to steady as a foe broke in on her. She made up some ground late to finish fourth in a decent effort. She is in good hands with the McLaughlin barn that is always tough with second out maidens, hitting at a 25% clip. The filly has one sib to race, stakes placed Catinatree ($168,859). She put in a  good gate drill and looks like a good fit here dropping in for a tag for her second career outing.
 
Wagering
WIN: #1 to win at 9-5 or better.
EX: 1,2 / 1,2,5,7
TRI: 1,2 / 1,2,5,7 / 1,2,4,5,7
 
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: #2 Like a Boss / 2b El Bagre   8-1
R2: #2 Guyana Princess   10-1
R3: #4 Bonita Sonata
R3: #2 Rapidize   10-1
R4: #8 Lone Star Gold   10-1
R5: #7 Annelle   12-1
R7: #5 Budge Man   12-1
R8: #3 Cashleigh   15-1
 
Good luck today!

  
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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.

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