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At the Gate - Wednesday

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My impression from Saturday’s two Derby preps is that we are going to have one heck of a "Run for the Roses" this year.
 
Orb won the Grade 1 Florida Derby in good looking fashion for trainer Shug McGaughey, perhaps the most impressive Derby prep we have seen this spring.
 
The colt earned a 97 Beyer Speed Figure for the win, matching his figure from the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth victory on Feb. 23. The race seems like it sets him up for a top effort on the first Saturday of May.
 
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In the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby Revolutionary proved best, and he needed a big effort to earn enough points to get into the Derby. His lone other stakes try was a game neck win in the Grade 3 Withers at Aqueduct on Feb. 2.
 
The colt earned a 93 Beyer Speed Figure, a 12 point hike off his Withers win. The colt earned a 102 for his maiden win three back on the inner track at the Big A.
 
I was more impressed with the performance by Orb, and this guy is bred to handle 1 ¼ miles, by Malibu Moon (A.P. Indy) out of the Unbridled mare Lady Liberty, who McGaughey also trained. She won $202,045 and mixed it up in graded stakes company with her best finish a fourth in the Grade 3 Glen Falls Handicap.
 
We are only a month away from the Derby, but we still have four major preps coming up over the next two weeks. Coming up this Saturday is the Grade 1 Wood and Santa Anita Derby. On April 13 we have the Grade 1 Blue Grass and Arkansas Derby.
 
The undefeated Verrazano and Vyjack will meet up in the Wood, and barring a deadheat one of them will lose for the first time.
 
Verrazano is still the future betting favorite for the Derby, but that could change if the colt does not fire on Saturday.
 
Saturday’s Wood Memorial Day card at the Big A features five graded stakes, and I will have my full card report available, as well as Saturday’s full card for Keeneland, which opens on Friday.
 
Click here to purchase my full card report for Aqueduct for Wednesday.
 
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 $25,000 (12:50 ET)
3 Bliss   2-5
6 Queen Nine   8-1
2 Currency Union   6-1
4 Bird Manor   5-1
 
Analysis: Bliss caught a muddy surface last out in a runner up finish and drops in for a tag for the first time here for the Chad Brown barn that is 31% winners dropping runners from maiden special to maiden claiming. Two back she ran third behind repeat winner Calistoga at Gulfstream Park, that filly coming back to beat Alw-1 optional claimers in her next outing at Gulfstream Park on March 7. The day looks like it is going to start off chalky.
 
Queen Nine steps up from a $16,000 tag where the filly had to steady early when jostled around, came with a four wide bid and made a mild late run to finish third. The runner up and fourth place finisher both came back to graduate in their next starts. She makes her second start off a 5 1/2 month layoff here. She has one sib to race, Grade 2 placed News Pending ($129,036).
 
Wagering
WIN: #3 to win at 3-5 or better.
EX: 3 / 2,6
TRI: no play
 
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Aqueduct:
 
AQU Race 7 OClm $16,000SAL (3:52 ET)
2 Best Actor   6-1
5 Julius Geezer   5-1
3 Dynamic Host   2-1
4 Becky's Kitten   6-1
 
Analysis: Best Actor is coming off a fifth p[lace finish against starter optional claimers off a week break and now returns to turf for the first time since winning a Alw-1 optional claimer last December over ground labeled as good over the turf here. The gelding has not been able to run back to that effort on dirt and since her was claimed away from Servis, but he looks like a good fit here and we should catch a fair price.
 
Julius Geezer ships up from Florida where last out the gelding weakened to finish fourth against starter allowance company on the turf at Gulfstream Park. The gelding won at that level two back, which was his fifth career win on the weeds, four of those coming overseas. His last pair of speed figs are a good fit in this spot.
 
Wagering
WIN: #2 to win at 4-1 or better.
EX: 2,5 / 2,3,4,5
TRI: 2,5 / 2,3,4,5 / 2,3,4,5,7
 
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: #6 Queen Nine   8-1
R2: #2 Readysetsketch   10-1
R4: #8 Like a Boss   10-1
R5: #2 Kings Village   30-1
R6: #5 Red Hook   10-1
 
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.
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