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At the Gate - Saturday

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 The Grade 2 $600,000 Rebel at Oaklawn Park is the lone Derby prep this weekend, with 85 points (50 to the winner) up for grabs in the Road to the Kentucky Derby series.
 
After the Rebel is run there are two more Derby preps with 85 points handed out (50-20-10-5 to the top four finishers) and then there are seven races with 170 points, 100 to the winners.
 
Super Ninety Nine, who currently has ten points is the 3-2 morning line favorite for the Rebel. The colt will be saddled by hall of fame trainer Bob Baffert, who has been virtually unstoppable at Oaklawn Park in recent years.
 
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Dating back five years the trainer has started 21 runners in Hot Springs, and 14 of them made it to the winner’s circle.
 
Last year he won both halves of the split Southwest with Secret Circle and Castaway, the Rebel with Secret Circle and came back to win the Arkansas Derby with Bodemeister.
 
Baffert will also saddle Den’s Legacy (8-1), who ran second in the Grade 3 Sham and Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis in his last two outings. The colt also has 10 points toward a ticket to Louisville.
 
It appears it is likely going to take between 40 and 50 points to make it into the starting gate for the Kentucky Derby, so there is not much room for error.
 
We have chased quite a few tickets backing Baffert in Hot Springs the past few years, but I am going to try to beat him for the top spot this afternoon.
 
The co-feature on the Oaklawn Park card is the Grade 3 $150,000 Azeri, with the talented My Miss Aurelia looking to snap a two race losing streak. The filly won her first six career starts, with her first loss coming in a solid runner up finish to Royal Delta in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic.
 
Her last outing came in the seven furlong Grade 1 La Brea where she finished a close up third, beaten a half-length. She is going to be tough but as you can see below I am going to beat her for the top spot today.
 
My Best Plays Report for Saturday includes my strongest plays from Aqueduct and Oaklawn Park.
 
Click here to purchase my full card report for Aqueduct for Saturday.
 
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 Clm $12,500B (12:50 ET)
7 Siete Machos    6-1
5 Temecula Creek   9-5
2 Minescape   4-1
8 King Rock    5-2
 
Analysis: Siete Machos did not fire last out at Philly in an eighth place finish against $7,500 non-winners of a race in six months. This guy has not won a race since taking a state bred Alw-1 race on turf back in 2010, but does catch a pretty weak group here. The barn has been on a nice roll here winning at a 31% clip. Worth a look if he goes off near his 6-1 morning line.
 
Temecula Creek returns off a 3 1/2 month break here for the rice barn. The nine year old has some back class, going from a $7,500 claimer to a stakes winner and now back down the claiming ranks. He beat $10,000 starter handicap foes here last year in his last trip on the inner track. The barn is 8% winners with horses coming back off a 61-180 day layoff.
 
Wagering
WIN: #7 to win at 4-1 or better.
EX: 5,7 / 2,5,7,8
TRI: 5,7 / 2,5,7,8 / 2,5,6,7,8
 
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Aqueduct:
 
AQU Race 9 The Cicada (4:52 ET)
7 Railtown Girl   8-1
6 Highestmaintenance   7-5
5 Elghayoor   3-1
4 I'm Mom's Favorite   7-2
 
Analysis: Railtown Girl looks as if she is going to be a decent price in this spot. Last out the filly staled the early pace and made a good late rally to finishes in the runner up spot over an inner track that was kind to inside speed. She was only beaten a half-length by Elghayoor while nearly six lengths clear of the rest of the field. Two back she was caught wide much of the trip in a third place finish in the Ruthless in the mud. She should get a good pace set up here and her 8-1 morning line looks more than fair.
 
Highestmaintenance ships in from Florida where last out the filly set the early fractions and could not hold off the winner late in a runner up finish against Alw-1 optional claimers. The winner was Private Ensign, who came back to finish third in the Davona Dale (G2) in her next outing on Feb. 23.The Todd Pletcher trainee was a good looking gate to wire winner in her debut going six furlongs and now cuts back to a sprint here in her stakes debut. Her two speed figs are tops in this field by a good margin. She owns a solid pace profile throughout with good early and mid pace numbers. She will be tough but her price is going to end up on the light side.
 
Elghayoor faced winners for the first time last out in the Dearly precious and got the job done as our top pick, returning $7.30 and beating a couple of foes she runs into again today. She was adding lasix for the first time and may have been aided slightly by the racing strip as it was tough to pass horses in the stretch that day. The race came out on the slow side and her Beyer actually regressed by 14 points. She fits with her best but her price may go south from her 3-1 morning line.
 
Wagering
WIN: #7 to win at 9-2 or better.
EX: 6,7 / 4,5,6,7
TRI: 6,7 / 4,5,6,7 / 3,4,5,6,7
 
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Oaklawn Park:
 
OP Race 9 The Azeri G3 (5:13 CT)
1 Tiz Miz Sue   5-1
7 My Miss Aurelia   6-5
6 Don't Tell Sophia   3-2
3 She's All In   12-1
 
Analysis: Tiz Miz Sue makes her second start off a 4 1/2 month layoff here and is likely going to get overlooked in the betting. She has lost six in a row since winning this race last year, her lone win in 11 trips over the main track. She did battle with Royal Delta last summer in the Del 'Cap (G2) where she was beaten just a neck. She figures to be tighter second off the bench and we should catch most of her 5-1 morning line.
 
My Miss Aurelia has not lost two in a  row after starting off her career by winning her first six starts. She was a solid second in the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic (G1) behind Royal Delta which was her first go against older. Last out she finished gamely but could not get past the top pair in a third place finish in the seven furlong La Brea (G1). The stretch out here suits and if local hero Don't Tell Sophia takes some action in the betting she may end up a fair price here.
 
Wagering
WIN: #1 to win at 4-1 or better.
EX: 1,7 / 1,3,6,7
TRI: 1,7 / 1,3,6,7 / 1,3,4,6,7
 
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
R3: #4 Patriotic Duty   12-1
R4: #5 Epic Legend   12-1
R4: #9 Keyaly   8-1
R5: #2 Joe Mooch   10-1
R5: #5 Big Breesy   12-1
R6: #4 Buddy’s Tiz   8-1
R7: #1 Can’t Catch Me Now   12-1
R8: #3 Call for the Clock   10-1
R9: #7 Railtown Girl   8-1
R10: #10 Term Loan   8-1
 
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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