At the Gate - Wednesday
April 10, 2013
By Mike Dempsey
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Jockey John Velazquez currently has the mount on two of the leading Kentucky Derby contenders, and over the next couple of weeks he along with his agent Angel Cordero is going to have to make a tough choice.
Velazquez has ridden early Derby favorite Verrazano in all four of his career starts, winning the Grade 1 Wood Memorial on the talented colt on Saturday. The colt is trained by Todd Pletcher and the jockey and trainer have a long history of success together.
Velazquez picked up the mount on the Shug McGaughey trained Orb in the colt’s stakes debut, and the colt won the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth and Grade 1 Florida Derby and figures to be one of the top three or four betting choices on the first Saturday of May.
The decision may no longer be in his hands. Velazquez was involved in a spill on Sunday when his mount Katie Malone clipped heels with another horse in the seventh race which sent the hall of fame jockey to the hospital.
A fractured rib and chipped bone in his right wrist was the result, although Velazquez said yesterday he will be back in action Derby week.
Will Pletcher and McGaughey wait until Derby week to see of Velazquez is ready to return to the saddle? It seems likely Velazquez would stick with Verrazano and Pletcher, and I am sure the connections of both horses would like to lock up a jockey and not have to wait three weeks.
What seemed on Saturday like a good problem for Velazquez has turned into a real problem for the trainers and it will be interesting to see how it plays out over the upcoming weeks.
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Here is today’s opening from Aqueduct to get the day off to a good start:
AQU Race 1 Clm $12,500N2L (12:50 ET)
7 Luck in the City 3-1
2 Miss Silver Birch 6-1
6 Lady Jarlyn 5-1
5 Castles Burning 5-2
Analysis: Luck in the City tracked the early pace, made a good middle move coming up the inside to take the lead and then could not go with the winner, settling for the runner up spot, beaten two lengths in a good effort at 24-1. It was her first go off a 2 1/2 month break and she was well clear of the rest of the field, nearly eight lengths back to the third place finisher. She has done her best running over the main track here and catches a weak group of non-winners of two here.
Miss Silver Birch exits the same race as our top pick where she tracked the early pace and weakened to finish fourth. It was her first go beyond six furlongs and she may be tighter here in her second try at a mile. She is in light with the bug and the low % barn has sent out nine runners at the meeting and four have landed in the exacta.
WIN: #7 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 2,7 / 2,5,6,7
TRI: 2,7 / 2,5,6,7 / 2,4,5,6,7
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Aqueduct:
AQU Race 8 OClm $25,000N1X (4:27 ET)
5 Take Down Two 3-1
3 Flying Zealous 8-5
7 Regal Strike 7-2
4 Alcomatch 4-1
Analysis: Take Down Two beat Alw-3 optional claimers last out and while it was not a real tough group he looks well spotted here dropping two conditions back down to the Alw-1 level. The eight year old gelding is a 15-time winner and comes back here off a short freshening for the Contessa barn. He is likely going to offer more value that the chalk in here.
Flying Zealous took to the inner track passing his first two allowance conditions against state breds, last out earning a career top speed fig taking the field gate to wire. The gelding steps back outside of the New York bred ranks and owns a solid pace profile throughout and this is not a real tough group of Alw-1 foes her faces here. The 8-5 may end up looking more like 4-5 so let's try to beat him for the top spot here.
WIN: #5 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 3,5 / 3,4,5,7
TRI: 3,5 / 3,4,5,7 / 3,4,5,6,7
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.
R4: #2 Athenula 12-1
R6: #5 Thetrainwasgone 12-1
R7: #8 Qahr 8-1
R9: #2 Private Irving A 12-1
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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