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At the Gate - Saturday
There will be no shortage of betting action on Saturday, with a dozen races on the Aqueduct card and Keeneland now open for the spring meeting.
The Big A card features five graded stakes including the Grade 1 $1 million Wood Memorial. We have been suffering through a few lousy betting cards the past couple of weeks, and Saturday’s card is stellar.
Keeneland opened on Friday, and Saturday’s card is very strong and includes the Grade 1 $500,000 Ashland for three-year-old fillies. The race serves as a major prep for the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks on May 3 at Churchill Downs.
Between Aqueduct and Keeneland there were 22 races to handicap, which left me no time to go after Friday’s Rainbow 6 at Gulfstream Park, which had a mandatory payout on the last day of the meeting.
Unfortunately rain hit the area, washing the turf races to the main track creating a slew of scratches. The pool began with $1.9 million up for grabs and another $5.2 million was wagered.
The winners were Sweet N Discreet ($4.20), Wild Perfection ($5.20), Trinni Heart ($10.80), Running Wildcat ($15.80), Sweet Gator Girl ($8.20) and Charlie In Charge ($7.20).
There were 1,461 winning tickets sold, each returning $4,234.01.
I also did not get enough time to really look at the Santa Anita card other than the Grade 1 $750,000 Santa Anita Derby, which is included in my Best Plays Report.
Hear the Ghost was an early scratch after coming up lame after a workout on Thursday. The colt was the 5-2 second choice on the morning line.
The revised morning line has Flashback lowered to the 6-5 favorite. In the Wood we also are faced with chalk as Verrazano is listed at 4-5 on the morning line.
I think we can beat them both.
The NBC Sports Network will televise the Wood Memorial and Santa Anita Derby live during a 90-minute telecast that gets underway at 6:00 ET.
My Best Plays Report for Saturday features my selections, analysis, fair odds line, and wagering recommendations for 12 races today including the Santa Anita Derby and Wood Memorial and my strongest plays from Keeneland and Aqueduct
Click here to purchase my full card report for Keeneland for Saturday.
Click here to purchase my full card report for Aqueduct for Saturday.
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Here is today’s opening from Aqueduct to get the day off to a good start:
AQU Race 1 OClm $14,000N1X (12:50 ET)
4 Gendarmour   10-1
10 Lovely Syn   4-5
8 Keep Bustin   3-1
7 Graceful Meghan   15-1
Analysis: Gendarmour returns off a two month break after getting off poorly and checking in sixth at this level on the inner track over a wet track. The winner and third place finisher in that race each came back to win next out. The winner Here's Zealicious came back to beat state bred Alw-2 foes and then run third in the state bred Broadway. Our top pick has four starts, all on wet tracks, and perhaps she can move forward catching a fast main track here. Worth a look to pull off the upset if we catch most of the 10-1 morning line.
Lovely Syn was a good looking maiden winner in her debut, drawing off to win by six lengths and earn the top last out speed fig. The efforts looks better now that the fourth and sixth place finishers came back to graduate in their next starts. She is the logical one to beat here and will be tough if she runs back to her debut effort.
WIN: #4 to win at 9-2 or better.
EX: 4,10 / 4,7,8,10
TRI: 4,10 / 4,7,8,10 / 4,6,7,8,10
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Aqueduct:
AQU Race 10 The Carter Hcp G1 (5:49 ET)
4 Sahara Sky   2-1
7 Discreet Dancer   8-5
1 Saturday's Charm   8-1
5 Brigand   10-1
Analysis: Sahara Sky ships in from the left coast off wins in the Grade 2 Palos Verdes and Grade 2 San Carlos after coming back off a seven month layoff. He beat a really good group last out in the San Carlos that included The Lumber Guy and Drill. The third place finisher Comma to the Top came back to win the Tom Fool (G2) and fifth place finisher Justin Phillip came back with a 101 Beyer beating optional claimers at Oaklawn Park on March 21. It took him a while to get through his first two allowance conditions but since coming back off the bench this guy has never been better.
Discreet Dancer beat a couple of these last out in winning the Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2) and is perfect himself since coming back off a long layoff. His lone loss in five career starts was his only try going two turns, a third place finish in the Fountain of Youth (G2). The Pletcher trainee is coming off back to back career tops and now cuts back to seven furlongs. He fits with his best although the price may end up on the light side.
Saturday's Charm just missed in the Tom Fool last out, coming up a nose short. The colt made a good late rally to take over the lead inside the final furlong and just missed. He caught a racing strip that day that was kind to inside speed. If one of the top two fail to fire this guy could be in the mix at a decent price.
WIN: #4 to win at 9-5 or better.
EX: 4,7 / 1,4,5,7
TRI: 4,7 / 1,4,5,7 / 1,2,4,5,7
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Keeneland:
KEE Race 9 The Central Bank Ashland G1 (5:23 ET)
11 Spring in the Air   8-1
3 Private Ensign   6-1
1 Tuttipaesi   4-1
4 Spring Venture   5-1
Analysis: Spring in the Air disappointed as my top pick in last fall's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1), bet down from a 15-1 morning line to 6-1 and checking in a nonthreatening fifth. That outing came on dirt and she has shown she is best on the fake stuff, landing in the exacta in all four trips. She was a game second to her stablemate Spring Venture last out at Ocala and figures to move forward off that effort. She made a good late run to win the Alcibiades (G1) here last fall. Decent value in a wide open race if she goes off near her 8-1 morning line.
Private Ensign made her stakes debut in the Davona Dale (G3) last out and checked in third, no match for the top pair. They came back to run one-two in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) where Dreaming of Julia freaked, winning by 21 3/4 lengths and earning a 114 Beyer and the top Thorograph number ever. The Dale Romans trainee is trying polytrack for the first time but has the pedigree to handle it. She is by A.P. Indy out of a Horse Chestnut mare. She steps up into Grade 1 company here but the two that beat her last out would be the favorites if they went here.
WIN: #11 to win at 4-1 or better.
EX: 3,11 / 1,3,4,11
TRI: 3,11 / 1,3,4,11 / 1,3,4,5,7,11
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.
R3: #5 Rail Jumper   8-1
R5: #2 Fiddler Blue   8-1
R6: #9 Marilyn Monroan   8-1
R7: #1 Small Kitchen   10-1
R7: #6 Let’s Get Married   10-1
R9: #11 Spring in the Air   8-1
R10: #9 Praetorian Prefect   8-1
R10: #2 Barnyard Fiddler   12-1
Good luck today!

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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.
The 2015 Triple Crown saw Mike correctly predict American Pharoah to win both the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. Mike nailed the Exacta and Trifecta in the Belmont Stakes.

Mike had a solid 2014 Triple Crown race season, 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 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.

No handicapper in the industry works harder to bring you analysis that produces profits at the track!

Mike's Reports include his selections, detailed analysis, a fair odds line, and wagering recommendations for the entire card.

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Jerry Sessa Jerry "Shots" Sessa has been involved in horse racing for over 30 years. He now brings his meticulous handicapping style to When Jerry posts picks you are getting his best bets...when you win, he wins.
Jerry opened the 2016 Triple Crown season by hitting his Derby Day best bet, Nyquist. He also nailed the Derby exacta for a $30.60 payout. On 4/16/16 at Keeneland, Jerry hit an $819 exacta that led to a $38k Trifecta & a $300k Super.

In the 2015 Belmont Stakes Jerry dominated races 8-11 by hitting a $4,400 Pick 4, 3 Daily Doubles, 2 Pick 3's and calling American Pharoah as the first Triple Crown winner in 36 years.

Jerry is always looking to repeat his 2012 Triple Crown success, when he selected the winning horses for The Preakness and The Belmont Stakes.

Jerry looks forward to working with everyone and making money for anyone who invests in his picks on a daily basis.

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