At the Gate - Friday
March 29, 2013
By Mike Dempsey
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In addition to Saturday’s Grade 2 Louisiana Derby and Grade 1 Florida Derby, halfway around the world a field of 13 foes will line up at Meydan Racecourse in the Group 1 $10 million Dubai World Cup, the world’s richest race.
The race was dominated by U.S. trained runners when it was contested at Nad Al Sheba on dirt, but U.S. based runners have not fared well in the past three years since the switch to Meydan, which has an synthetic Tapeta surface.
Things could change this year, as there is a trio of runners that have shipped over looking for the prize and all three are legitimate contenders.
2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom returns to the fake stuff for the first time since winning the Grade 3 Spiral over polytrack in his final Derby prep. The colt was not fully cranked in his last start in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Handicap, checking in second.
He appears to be coming into the race in sharp form and the 5-1 morning line looks fair enough.
Dullahan is a three-time winner on synthetic surfaces and trainer Dale Romans has been as good as any trainer in the U.S. in big races over the past year.
However, the colt’s 11th place showing in his local debut in Dubai was far from pretty.
Royal Delta takes on the boys and is seeking to become the first female to win the race. I thought she had a serious shot of winning the race last year, but she had a troubled trip and checked in ninth.
Just the fact that hall of fame trainer Bill Mott is bringing her back for another shot bodes well for the mare, but is her 4-1 morning line a fair price?
Defending champion Monterosso is back, but in his last two starts he was beaten a combined 45 ½ lengths.
The sharpest runner coming into the race appears to be Hunter’s Light, who won Round 2 and 3 of the Al Maktoum Challenge. The Godolphin runner is the 7-2 morning line favorite.
The three U.S. based runners each look as if they can win with their best, but finding betting value might be difficult as the U.S. bettors tend to over-value the home team.
I am still not sure where I am going to land, and will have selections in Saturday column.
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Here is today’s opening from Aqueduct to get the day off to a good start:
AQU Race 1 OClm $25,000N2X (12:50 ET)
6 Bigger Is Bettor 3-1
2 Reaching Out 1-1
3 Coalition 6-1
1 Warrior Up / 1a Papa Tom 5-1
Analysis: Bigger Is Bettor is coming off a good effort in a runner up finish at this level last out. The five year old stalked the early pace and finished up well, beaten two lengths by a gate to wire winner over a racing strip that was playing to inside speed that day, six of the races won in wire jobs. Two back he ran a decent third behind repeat winner Readtheprospectus, who beat open Alw-1 optional claimers in his next outing on March 2. Our top pick broke his maiden and is stakes placed over the surface here.
Reaching Out came off a 2 1/2 month break with a sharp gate to wire score against state bred Alw-1 foes, drawing clear to win by 7 1/2 lengths, earning the top last out speed fig in the effort. The colt owns solid early and mid pace numbers and a one turn mile should suit this guy. GRod has done well while taking over from his brother RRod, and won a race on the opening day card.
WIN: #6 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 2,6 / 2,3,6
TRI: no play
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Aqueduct:
AQU Race 8 OClm $62,500N2X (4:22 ET)
2 Royal Lahaina 8-5
4 Coco Ecolo 15-1
3 Zaphyra 5-2
5 Roman Invader 4-1
Analysis: Royal Lahaina came off a two month break with a sharp win at this level, drawing off to win by 6 1/2 lengths at 8-1. It took eight tries for this gal to pass her first allowance conditions, doing it in style two back against a below average group. He comes in here very sharp for the GRod barn and gets the call in a tricky race that includes a couple of shippers from Chicago and one from SoCal.
Coco Ecolo was bumped hard coming out of the gate, tracked the early pace and faded to finish a well beaten fifth last out at this level in her first go off an eight month layoff. She was beaten just a nose two back at Monmouth Park at this condition. She is in good hands with the Breen barn and figures to move forward with a better break. The 15-1 morning line looks generous.
WIN: #2 to win at 8-5 or better.
EX: 2,4 / 2,3,4,5
TRI: 2,4 / 2,3,4,5 / 2,3,4,5,6
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.
R3: #2 Decisive Move 15-1
R4: #5 Ivanovna 20-1
R5: #1 Commanding Officer 10-1
R8: #4 Coco Ecolo 15-1
Good luck today!
HORSE RACING EXPERT
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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