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At the Gate - Friday
While we all are affected by Derby Fever, there are a few events in the game that may be getting overlooked, and if you have not noticed there is a race on Saturday with the winner taking home a $1 million payday.
The Grade 2 $1.5 million Charles Town Classic at Charles Town (sorry, I can’t seem to call it by its “real” name which is now Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races) will be run Saturday night, with a post time of 10:30 ET.
The track opened in 1933 and was originally named Jefferson County Races.  I made my first trip to a racetrack at Charles Town, where we would wager on a steady diet of $1,500 to $2,500 claimers.
The track nearly closed in 1995, but slots saved the day in 1997. The Charles Town Classic became the track’s first graded stake in 2011, and was upgraded to Grade 2 status last year.
This year’s edition drew a couple of the top handicap horses in training, Game On Dude and Ron the Greek. The Bob Baffert trained Game On Dude first appeared at Charles Town in 2011 where the gelding finished second over a sloppy track.
Saturday night’s card is one of the best the racetrack has put on in its long history, with five supporting stakes races.
Game On Dude is the 4-5 morning line favorite and is coming off a pair of big figures winning the Grade 2 San Antonio and the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap.
Mike Smith is in to ride, as is other high profile jockeys including Garrett Gomez, Javier Castellano, Jose Lezcano, and Kent Desormeaux.
Last year’s winner Caixa Eletronica is back to defend his title for trainer Todd Pletcher, who also sends in Mordi’s Miracle and Percussion.
I will have my selections and analysis for the big race in tomorrow’s column. Spoiler alert: I am not selecting Game On Dude on top.
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Here is today’s opening race from Aqueduct to get the day off to a good start:
AQU Race 1 Clm $12,500B (12:50 ET)
7 Patriotic Duty    5-1
6 Superiority    5-2
1 A.F. Hennessey   2-1
2 Luxury Appeal   7-2
Analysis: Patriotic Duty tracked the early pace and did not have any punch left in the stretch in a fifth place finish last out against $30,000 non-winners of two in the slop. Two back over a fast main track this guy checked in a decent third, beaten two lengths for the top spot. The barn just keeps bringing them back and is not shy about running back quickly with this guy having just a week off. The barn won another race yesterday and this colt gets a key jock upgrade from the seven pound bug to Maragh. Decent value if this guy goes off near his 5-1 morning line.
Superiority is sent out by the same barn and is going to likely be the lower price of the duo. The gelding was beaten just a head last out in a game effort versus $12,500 non-winners of two or three year olds over a muddy track. It took 18 tries for this guy to break his maiden but he comes in here of a career top and also gets a jock upgrade from the bug to Cohen.
WIN: #7 to win at 3-1 or better.
EX: 6,7 / 1,2,6,7
TRI: 6,7 / 1,2,6,7 / 1,2,4,6,7
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Aqueduct:
AQU Race 8 OClm $50,000SAL (4:27 ET)
6 Sing Dixie Sing   3-1
7 Nifty Shindig   5-1
3 D'princess    2-1
1 Sheza Classy Lady   7-2
Analysis: Sing Dixie Sing returns off a three month break, her last race a gate to wire score against state bred Alw-2 company on the inner track. She comes back here for the Jerkens barn that has been sending out live runners at the meeting, winning with 5 of 8 starters. She steps outside of the state bred ranks for the first time here but looks up to it if she is ready to go off the bench. The barn is 32% winners (with a +ROI) with horses coming back off a 61-180 day layoff.
Nifty Shindig broke her maiden last out for a $35,000 tag, the first time she was offered up for sale. She went gate to wire, drawing off to win by 10 lengths. The filly was claimed out of the race by the Jacobson barn that is 25% winners first off the claim. She owns solid early and mid pace numbers but there are three others in here that like to be up front.
WIN: #6 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 6,7 / 1,3,6,7
TRI: 6,7 / 1,3,6,7 / 1,3,5,6,7
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.
R4: #8 Dixie Sparkle   8-1
R5: #2 My Lucky Lieu   12-1
R9: #11 Threetimesacharm   12-1
Good luck today!

· Dempsey: At the Gate - Sunday
· Justify to resume training in California
· Fans cheer Justify during parade lap
· Lather Up wins $1M North America Cup
· Justify back at Churchill after winning TC
· Owners: Justify will race again
· Justify grabs Crown with Belmont win
· Mike Smith oldest jockey to win TC
· Baffert has winning day, 3 times over
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.

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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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