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At the Gate - Kentucky Derby
When early betting on Friday closed it was not Orb or Verrazano that was the betting favorite for the 139th running of the Kentucky Derby, in fact neither was even second choice in the betting.

The early honor goes to the Todd Pletcher trained Revolutionary, who closed on Friday evening at 5-1, with a few more bucks wagered on him that Goldencents, who also closed at 5-1.

Orb was next in line at 6-1, and Verrazano was rather chilly on the toteboard, closing at an amazing 11-1.

The undefeated Verrazano has been the early betting favorite since earning a 105 Beyer Speed Figure on Feb.2 second against first level allowance foes at Gulfstream Park.

It looked as if the colt would head to Derby Day as the betting favorite after his Wood Memorial (G1) win, but that all changed when Orb got to Louisville. The Florida Derby winner has been the buzz horse all week on the backstretch and was installed as the 7-2 morning line favorite.

Now it appears any of three runners could end up the betting favorite by post time this afternoon.

The weather is a still a question mark, and the chance of rain has gone up and down and of late Friday night it does look good for Louisville according to

Showers early becoming a steady rain later in the day. High 63F. Winds ESE at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of rain 90%.

I thought we had a good shot of beating the heavy favorite Dreaming of Julia in the $1 million Kentucky Oaks (G1) on Friday and I was right. The filly had a terrible rip and checked in fourth.

The only problem was I never really gave Princess of Sylmar much of a chance, nor did hardly anyone else. She returned $79.60 for the win and set up some really nice payoff in the Oaks-Derby Double:

Oaks-Derby Double $2 Will-Pays
1. Black Onyx, scratched
2. Oxbow, $2,133.40
3. Revolutionary, $790
4. Golden Soul, $3,599.20
5. Normandy Invasion, $742
6. Mylute, $1,508.20
7. Giant Finish, $5,844
8. Goldencents, $953.60
9. Overanalyze, $1,246.80
10. Palace Malice, $1,547.60
11. Lines of Battle, $2,337.20
12. Itsmyluckyday, $983
13. Falling Sky, $6,241.40
14. Verrazano, $804.60
15. Charming Kitten, $3,617.80
16. Orb, $621.40
17. Will Take Charge, $3,088
18. Frac Daddy, $3,943.80
19. Java's War, $1,685.60
20. Vyjack, $1,313.80

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Here is today's opening from Belmont Park to get the day off to a good start:

BEL Race 1 Clm $15,000B (1:05 ET)
7 King Rock 7-2
2 Willy Pay 6-1
3 Temecula Creek 5-2
8 Real Estate 8-1

Analysis: King Rock stalked the early pace and came with a mild late rally to finish third last out on the inner track at the Big A against $12,500 non-winners of three or a race since Sept. 16. The gelding was claimed out of the race by the Ness barn that is 38% winners first off the claim. This guy has not won since May of '11 where he beat restricted $25,000 claimers, but fits here against this week group.

Willy Pay stalked the early pace, made a good middle move to take over the lead and headed for home with the lead but was caught late and had to settle for the runner up spot against $12,500 non-winners of three or a race since Oct. 5. The gelding was making his first start off the claim by the Quick barn. He cuts back to six furlongs and he did break his maiden going one turn in a seven furlong maiden race at the Spa last July. The gelding comes in here in decent form and the 6-1 morning line looks fair enough.

WIN: #7 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 2,7 / 2,3,7,8
TRI: 2,7 / 2,3,7,8 / 1,2,3,7,8

Today's Featured Race of the Day from Belmont Park:

BEL Race 7 The Ft. Marcy (4:13 ET)
1 Speaking of Which 2-1
2 Real Solution 3-1
3 Lubash 7-2
5 Bombaguia 4-1

Analysis: Speaking of Which shipped in from the west coast and landed with the Clement barn after making his first two starts in the U.S. in Southern California. He was a game second in the Twilight Derby (G2), but then faded to finish a well beaten 14th in the Hollywood Derby (G1) The colt had to take up sharply in tight quarters nearing the quarterpole and could not recover. Three runners have come out of that race to win next out. He is in good hands as he makes his first start here for the Clement barn that is 22% winners (with a +ROI) with newcomers to the barn and has solid numbers brining runners back off the bench.

Real Solution makes his U.S. debut here for the Chad Brown barn. The colt ships in from Italy where he won his first three starts and then was sixth in Group 2 company. He ran second in the allowance ranks last out off a four month layoff. He makes his local debut here adding lasix for a sharp barn that does good work with overseas invaders.

WIN: #1 to win at 9-5 or better.
EX: 1,2 / 1,2,3
TRI: no play

Today's Featured Race of the Day from Churchill Downs:

CD Race 7 The Humana Distaff G1 (2:08 ET)
1 Jamaican Smoke 5-1
6 Aubby K 7-2
8 Byrama 5-1
2 Rumor 5-2

Analysis: Jamaican Smoke exits the Madison (G1) on poly where the filly set a sharp early pace and weakened in the stretch to finish third, beaten 1 1/2 lengths for the top spot. Her lone start over the main track here was a win versus Alw-1 foes last May and it was her career top speed fig to date. She has enough pedigree to handle a wet track and she now is on a more speed friendly racing strip while drawing the rail. She owns solid early and mid pace numbers and if she can get the jump on Burban who is quick, she may be a danger to take this group gate to wire.

Aubby K was a smart looking winner of the Inside Information (G2) at Gulfstream Park going seven furlongs off a 6 1/2 month layoff. Burban exited the race to win the Break Thru Stakes and Ice Cream Silence came out of the race to win the Doubledogdare (G3) in her next outing at Keeneland on April 19. She looks capable of moving forward off her last effort and she will need to if she wants to be competitive in this spot. She has enough pedigree to handle a wet track.

Byrama was near the back of the pack early while saving ground, was angled our four wide for the stretch drive and was blocked at the eighth pole when the leader drifted. She finished up with good energy when angled toward the outside inside the final furlong, beaten just a neck. Two back on turf she ran a good second in the Buena Vista (G2) behind the talented Mizdirection, who came back to win the Las Congas (G3) in her next start, her tenth in 15 career starts. This will be the filly's first go on dirt as she has only raced on turf and the fake stuff. Her running style is not perfect for this surface but she should get a solid pace to run at and she figures to be a decent enough price.

WIN: #1 to win at 3-1 or better.
EX: 1,6 / 1,2,6,8
TRI: 1,6 / 1,2,6,8 / 1,2,3,6,8

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.

Belmont Park
R1: #1 #8 Real Estate 8-1
R2: #1 I'm Stoked 8-1
R3: #7 Doc Cebu 12-1
R3: #5 King Balthsar 12-1
R5: #8 Forever for Always 8-1
R6: #3 Game Token 10-1
R8: #10 Ghostly Vision 12-1
R10: #4 Brandy's Big Guy 8-1
R10: #1 Lion Aint Easy 15-1

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!

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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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