Post positions for the final two major Derby preps were drawn on Wednesday and we have a couple of really good betting races to look forward to on Saturday.
The Grade 1 $1 million Arkansas Derby drew a field of ten led by the Bob Baffert trained War Academy, who is the 2-1 morning line favorite. The colt was fourth in the Grade 2 San Vicente and then beat first level optional claimers in his last start with a 99 Beyer.
The race is worth 100-40-20-10 points to the top four finishers, with second choice Oxbow (5-2) currently the highest in points with 36, which currently is good for 13th place in the Road to the Kentucky Derby series standings.
That total probably will be enough to get into the Derby field, but for the rest of the field, a first or second place finish is the only way for the connections to think about heading to Louisville on the first Saturday of May.
Oxbow drew the 10 post for the third race in a row. The colt was beaten a head be stablemate Will Take Charge last out in the Grade 2 Rebel.
The Grade 1 $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass drew 15, while 14 will go to the gate. The 7-2 morning line favorite is The Mark Casse trained Uncaptured, who finished second in the Grade 3 Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park on March 23, which was his three year old debut. The colt leads the field in Derby points with 30 and likely will need a top four finish to earn a spot in the Derby starting gate.
Java’s War is next in line in points with 22, coming off a runner up finish in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby behind the undefeated Verrazano.
The toughest read in the field may be Rydilluc (4-1) who is the co-second choice on the morning line. The colt is perfect in his last three starts, all on turf. He won the Grade 3 Palm Beach at Gulfstream Park on March 3 in his last outing.
I will have selections and analysis for both races in Saturday’s Best Plays Report.
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Here is today’s opening from Aqueduct to get the day off to a good start:
Analysis: Think I'm Hooked stalked the early pace and made a mild late rally to finish third last out at this level and is now 0 for 2 since the Ness barn claimed this guy three back. The runner up in his last outing was Ambassador Ridge, who came back to beat $12,500 non-winners of two in his next outing on March 30. The gelding owns a solid pace profile throughout and while Morales has been the go-to guy for Ness I don't mind this jock switch to Castellano.
Bizarroworld set the early fractions and could not hold off the winner late in a runner up finish at this level last out. The gelding caught a racing strip that was not kind to speed and was playing to outside stalkers and closers that day. The beaten favorite last out, the 4-1 morning line looks more than fair in this spot. The gelding owns the top last out speed fig and he owns solid early and mid pace numbers.
WIN: #2 to win at 2-1 or better.
EX: 2,3 / 1,2,3,6
TRI: 2,3 / 1,2,3,6 / 1,2,3,6,7
Analysis: Cinematize stalked the early pace from the rail and made up some ground late in a good effort in a runner up finish at this level over a wet inner track. The filly comes in here off back to back wins at the level after passing her first state bred condition three back in her third try. She owns a solid pace profile throughout and is in good hands with the Tony D. barn.
Golden Galaxy took the field gate to wire last out to beat state bred Alw-1 optional claimers, drawing off to win by 6 1/2 lengths as the 6-5 chalk. The mare was claimed out of the race by the Jacobson barn that is 26% winners first off the claim. Two back she ran a game second Vicki's Dancer, who came back to beat state bred Alw-2 foes in her next outing on March 20. She owns solid early and mid pace numbers but there is plenty of speed in here to keep her company early.
WIN: #2 to win at 9-5 or better.
EX: 2,4 / 1,2,4,5
TRI: 2,4 / 1,2,4,5 / 1,2,4,5,7
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.
Mike DepseyMike 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. Join Mike each day with daily picks from Belmont and Churchill Downs or you can get his Weekend Best Plays Report in his Multi-Track package or sit at the track with him for 30 Days with his Monthly Horse Package!
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