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At the Gate - Thursday

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It just does not get much better than the betting action coming up on Saturday, as we have a couple of very competitive Derby preps and the world’s richest race.
 
The Grade 1 $1 million Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park drew a field of ten and there are a couple of highly graded three-year-olds that need to run well if they are going to head to Louisville.
 
The 2012 juvenile champion Shanghai Bobby would already have locked up a spot in the starting gate at Churchill Downs in previous years with his wins in the Grade 1 Champagne and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
 
However, he comes into Saturday’s race with just 24 points and needs to run first or second to guarantee a spot in the Derby. A third would give him another 20 points which may get him in.
 
Same goes for Itsmyluckyday, winner of the Grade 3 Holy Bull. Despite his perfect record in two starts this year (he won the ungraded Gulfstream Park Derby in his first start this year), the colt only has 10 points. 
 
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There are a total of seven stakes on the 13-race card and I’ll have my full card report available on Friday night.
 
The Grade 2 $1 million Louisiana Derby drew a full field of 14 with the Todd Pletcher trained Revolutionary the 3-1 morning line favorite. The colt is another without much room for error. The colt only has 10 points.
 
The race drew a solid group including Code West and palace Malice, the runner up and third place finishers in the Grade 2 Risen Star, and Departing, winner of the Texas Heritage Stakes in his last outing.
 
And let’s not forget about Saturday’s Group 1 $10 million Dubai World Cup. The American team consists of Dullahan, Animal Kingdom and Royal Delta.
 
I will have selections for the race in Saturday’s Best Plays Report.
 
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 Clm $16,000B (12:50 ET)
3 Beggarthyneighbor   5-2
2 Taproot   4-1
6 Crown the Chief   2-1
7 Poppa's Pick   5-1
 
Analysis: Beggarthyneighbor makes his first start off a 2 1/2 month layoff here while dropping into a weaker spot for the Chad Brown barn. This guy showed some talent as a three year old, winning the Dancing Count at Laurel Park last January in his first start against winners. He has not been the same runner after taking a seven month break and the drop here is not exactly a good sign. The colt has decent works and the barn is 28% winners with runners coming back off a 61-180 day layoff.
 
Taproot is coming off a sixth place finish where he got hung up in traffic briefly approaching the quarterpole and then did not have enough punch left late. He was claimed out of the race by the Servis barn that is 31% winners first off the claim and is coming off a good inner track meeting where he won at a 24% clip overall. He is 0 for 3 in New York after beating $30,000 non-winners of two at Churchill Downs four back. He has been claimed in all three local starts which looks like a good sign.
 
Wagering
WIN: #3 to win at 2-1 or better.
EX: 2,3 / 2,3,6,7
TRI: 2,3 / 2,3,6,7 / 2,3,4,6,7
 
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Aqueduct:
 
AQU Race 8 OClm $25,000N1X (4:22 ET)
2 Sacred Success   7-2
3 Expression   5-2
5 Elusive Jozi   4-1
1 Hot Roots   7-2
 
Analysis: Sacred Success pressed the early pace from the outside and weakened to finish fourth last out over a wet track as the beaten chalk. She comes back here with blinkers added to the mix and owns back speed figs that are good enough to beat this group. She has gone off as the betting favorite in every one of her nine career start, three wins. She owns solid early and mid pace numbers and with the hood added she figures to be on the lead here.
Expression exits the same race as our top pick, checking in third as the 9-5 second choice. She saved ground early, ended up six wide turning for home, altered course back down to the inside and finished evenly, beaten three lengths for the top spot. She is reunited with Alvarado who was aboard her two back when she beat $35,000 non-winners of three or a race since Oct. 17. Her last pair of figs are tops in here and just needs a better trip which she should get today.
 
Wagering
WIN: #2 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 2,3 / 2,3,5
TRI: no play
 
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: #1 Pleaseandthankyou   8-1
R5: #5 Shankopotamus   12-1
R6: #5 Red Leader   8-1
R7: #9 Spectacular Act   10-1
R7: #9 Power of the Heart   12-1
R9: #7 Wise Choice   15-1
 
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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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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