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At the Gate - Sunday

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Back Onyx pulled off the upset in the Grade 3 Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park on Saturday, earning 50 points and assuring the Kelly Breen trainee a ticket to Louisville for the Kentucky Derby on May 4.
 
However, another three-year-old is getting as much if not more buzz and that is Team Valor’s Crop Report, who an hour earlier won the $75,000 Rushaway in his second start since arriving in the U.S.
 
The huge son of Medaglia d’Oro was bumped coming out of the gate and was far back in the early going. The colt made a strong move coming around the far turn into the stretch under jockey Joel Rosario’s patient ride and drew off to win by 1 ¾ lengths.
 
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The colt was my top pick and returned $3.20 and I mentioned yesterday I thought this colt would win and wheel back in the Grade 1 Blue Grass at Keeneland on April 13.
 
However, Barry Irwin of Team Valor posted on his Facebook page, “Crop Report will be prepared for the Belmont Stakes. He needs a true test of stamina and that will supply this May 31 foal with that opportunity.”
 
Two races later Black Onyx stopped the timer in the Spiral for the 1 1/8 miles in 1:51.98, and shortly after the race his connections put up the $6,000 to make him a Triple Crown nominee.
 
My top pick Upcaptured looked as if he needed a race. The colt won six of seven starts as a juvenile but was making his first start off a four month layoff.  The colt now has 30 points which likely will not be enough to get into the Derby field.
 
The colt is perfect in two starts at Churchill Downs and his trainer Mark Casse likely will bring him back in the Blue Grass which should set him up nicely for a big effort on the  first Saturday of May if he is able to pick up some points at Keeneland.
 
Today is Palm Sunday so we have no racing at the Big A, but plenty of wagering action at Gulfstream Park and Sunland Park.
 
My Best Plays Report for Sunday includes my strongest plays from Sunland Park and Gulfstream Park including the Grade 3 $800,000 Sunland Derby.
 
Purchase my Monthly Package and receive an entire month of Aqueduct action and my weekend Best Plays Reports for just $99.95.
 
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Gulfstream Park:
 
GP Race 9 Md Sp Wt (5:05 ET)
6 Sister State   5-2
3 Defoe Street   6-1
2 Miss Moonshine   5-1
1 Profetiza   4-1
 
Analysis: Sister State put in a god effort in a runner up finish in her debut, sent off at 4-1 in a field of 11. The winner Close Hatches came back to beat Alw-1 optional claimers in her next outing on March 10. The fourth place finisher Gadget Girl came back to graduate in her next outing on Feb. 14. The McLaughlin barn has always been strong second out and this filly has plenty of pedigree to handle the stretch out to two turns.
 
Defoe Street was off a beat slow when lunging at the break and came with a  five wide bid to rally for third. It was her first go off a 5 1/2 month layoff and the winner of the race was Manuka Honey, who came back to win the Suncoast on March 9 at Tampa Bay Downs on March 9. The filly is by Street Sense out of a Kris S. mare that has dropped seven winners, top earner Port Royal ($258,735). The extra ground will suit this guy.
 
Wagering
WIN: #6 to win at 2-1 or better.
EX: 3,6 / 1,2,3,6
TRI: 3,6 / 1,2,3,6 / 1,2,3,6,8
 
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Sunland Park:
 
Sun Race 10 The Sunland Park Oaks (5:08 MT)
5 Midnight Lucky   5-2
3 Majestic River    4-1
6 Countess Curlin   5-1
1 Unusual Way   7-2
 
Analysis: Midnight Lucky stretches out to a route of ground here for her second career start. She was ultra impressive breaking her maiden in her debut earning a 100 Beyer, drawing clear to win by 7 1/4 lengths. Only one runner has come out of that race to run back, fourth place finisher elegant in Silk running fourth again in her next start. The $220,000 purchase has worked smartly since her debut and the barn is 29% winners moving runners from sprint to route. Baffert won this race last year with Princess Arabella, who came into the race off a maiden and a first level allowance score in her first two starts.
 
Majestic River ships in from Florida for the Pletcher barn. Last out the filly set the early fractions and could not hold off the winner late in a runner up finish, beaten 3/4 of a length for the top spot. The winner was Emollient, who in her previous start had finished second in the Demoiselle (G2) last fall at Aqueduct. This gal has a nice pedigree, the $425,000 purchase is by A.P. Indy out of the stakes winner Tempus Fugit ($344,471).
 
Wagering
WIN: #5 to win at 2-1 or better.
EX: 3,5 / 1,3,5,6
TRI: 3,5 / 1,3,5,6 / 1,3,5,6,7
 
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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