At the Gate - Saturday
January 24, 2014
By Mike Dempsey
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I finally handicapped the weather correctly on Friday as the Aqueduct card was wiped out due to the frigid conditions, although I failed to predict I would be able to look out my office window here in Florida and see snow falling.
There was no need to panic as we only got a couple of frozen flakes falling, and I warned up quickly after handicapping the Sunshine Millions California Cup card at Santa Anita Park for Saturday.
Usually I complain about the small fields in Southern California but the card is excellent, and I have my selections and analysis for all six stakes in my Best Plays Report for today.
The feature is the $250,000 California Cup Derby for three-year-olds that could produce a couple of Kentucky Derby contenders. The race drew a deep field despite it not being a Derby points race.
Tamarando is the 9-5 morning line favorite and is the lone Grade 1 winner in the field having taken the Del Mar Futurity (G1) last year. All three of his wins have come on synthetic surfaces, but he ran a decent third in the CashCall Futurity (G1) in his last outing, beaten seven lengths by Shared Belief, who is currently the co-favorite in Derby future betting at Sportsbook.ag.
Shared Belief and Honor Code are each currently at +400. Tamarando is at +2500 in Derby future betting.
We do have a Derby points race at Gulfstream Park where a field of 11 will go to the post in the $400,000 Holy Bull (G2). The winner will earn 10 points toward stamping a ticket to Louisville on the first Saturday of May.
Cairo Prince, currently at +3000 in Derby future betting, is the 3-1 morning line favorite for the Holy Bull. The Kiaran McLaughlin trainee makes his three-year-old debut, his last start a neck loss in the Remsen (G2) last November, beaten by Honor Code.
My Best Plays Report for Saturday includes my 15 strongest plays from Aqueduct, Santa Anita and Gulfstream Park including all of the stakes action.
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Here is today’s opening from Aqueduct to get the day off to a good start:
AQU Race 1 Alw $20,000s (12:25 ET)
2 Itsagoodtendollars 5-1
3 Frazil 8-5
5 Pure Attitude 7-2
6 Haverhill 3-1
Analysis: Itsagoodtendollars set the early fractions and could not hold off the winner late while drifting out, landing in the runner up spot against $30,000 non-winners of three or a race on dirt in six months. The gelding is 0 for 3 since the Englehart barn claimed this guy for $25,000 from the Contessa barn but looks like a good fit in this spot. He has landed in the exacta in nine of 13 starts on the inner track and owns the edge in early and mid pace numbers. He is in light with the bug and may prove tough to catch here.
Frazil is coming off a game win against $12,500 starter allowance foes in the mud and is another that does his best work over this surface, landing in the exacta in nine of 14 starts. He has been mostly sprinting recently but does have a win in two tires at nine furlongs, That win came at the Spa back in '11 against $16,000 starter allowance foes. The old timer is coming in here sharp although his price may end up on the light side.
WIN: #2 to win at 7-2 or better.
EX: 2,3 / 2,3,5,6
TRI: 2,3 / 2,3,5,6 / 2,3,4,5,6
Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Gulfstream Park:
GP Race 10 The Holy Bull G2 (5:03 ET)
6 Mr Speaker 5-1
1 Coup de Grace 4-1
7 Cairo Prince 3-1
9 Conquest Titan 12-1
Analysis: Mr Speaker gets the call in a deep and contentious edition of the Holy Bull, the first major Derby prep at Gulfstream Park. The colt broke his maiden in his third career start and then came back to win the Dania Beach (G3) last out in a good looking effort. Now the colt tries dirt fort the first time here but is certainly is bred for it and he has been working sharply at Palm Meadows since his last outing. The colt is by Pulpit out of the graded stakes placed Salute ($103,838). The mare is out of the great Personal Ensign, who was undefeated in 13 career starts and earned $1.67 million in her career. The Shug McGaughey trainee has moved forward in each start and looks capable of taking another step forward here. Four of the last six winners of this race prepped here at Gulfstream Park, all on the main track.
Coup de Grace took plenty of action in his debut at Aqueduct and did not disappoint with a sharp 3/4 of a length victory going six furlongs. The runner up in that race was Unknown Road, who came back to graduate in his next start on Dec. 19 at fair Grounds with a 98 Beyer. Next up for our second choice was a sharp win against first level optional claimers over the main track here going a mile. The colt dueled for the early lead and finished up well to win by a length. The fifth place finisher in the race was Prudhoe Bay, who returned to win the Ocala Breeders Sprint in his next start on Jan. 21. The $300,000 Keeneland purchase has a solid pedigree, by Tapit out of a Storm Cat mare.
Cairo Prince is one of four in here that made their last starts in New York. The colt broke his maiden in his debut and then won the Nashua (G2) in his first start against winners. The third place finisher Noble Moon exited the race to win the Jerome (G2) in his next start while the fifth place finisher Jose Sea View came back to win the Display Stakes at Woodbine in his next outing. The colt has worked sharply at Palm Meadows since his last start. He has a nice pedigree, by Pioneerof the Nile out of the stakes winner Holy Bubbette ($240,995). Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin won this race in 2005 with Closing Argument.
WIN: #6 to win at 3-1 or better.
EX: 1,6 / 1,6,7,9
TRI: 1,6 / 1,6,7,9 / 1,2,6,7,9
Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Fair Santa Anita:
SA Race 10 The California Cup Derby (4:30 PT)
6 Aotearoa 10-1
4 Tamarando 9-5
7 California Chrome 5-2
5 Lucky Views 8-1
Analysis: Aotearoa is making his first start on conventional dirt here for the Leonard Powell barn. Last out the gelding broke awkwardly and was not a threat in a sixth place finish in the state bred King Glorious behind a couple of these over Cushion Track at Hollywood Park. His best effort tin his career was a sharp win in the open Zuma Beach on turf here back in October. Two back the gelding made a good late rally to finish in the runner up spot in the Generous (G2) on grass. He picks up Hall of Fame rider Gary Stevens here and if he takes to dirt he is going to be in the mix here at a decent price.
Tamarando was off at the back of the pack last out and made a good late run to finish third last out in the CashCall Futurity (G1), beaten seven lengths by early Kentucky Derby favorite Shared Belief. The Jerry Hollendorfer trainee is the lone Grade 1 winner in the field, taking the Del Mar Futurity last September over polytrack. In his two dirt starts he was a decent third in the Frontrunner(G1) where he did not break cleanly and was third in the state bred Golden St. Juvenile behind a couple of these. The colt has a nice pedigree, out of the graded stakes placed Tamarack Bay ($218,965) who has dropped three other talented runners including stakes winner Luckarack ($526,395). The main knock is going to be the short price.
California Chrome was a sharp winner of the state bred King Glorious last out over the Cushion Track at Hollywood Park going seven furlongs, drawing away to win by 6 1/4 lengths. He was off poorly two back on the main track here ion the Golden St. Juvenile where he checked in sixth, beaten three lengths. The colt has plenty of pedigree to handle the stretch out to two turns. The Art Sherman barn is 33% winners (with a +ROI) moving runners from sprint to route.
WIN: #6 to win at 9-2 or better.
EX: 4,6 / 4,5,6,7
TRI: 4,6 / 4,5,6,7 / 1,4,5,6,7
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.
R3: #7 Fast ‘n’ Firm 10-1
R5: #1 First Penny 8-1
R6: #6 Saturday Bliss 8-1
R7: #3 Prize Taker 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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Jerry "Shots" Sessa has been involved in horse racing for over 30 years. He now brings his meticulous handicapping style to VegasInsider.com. When Jerry posts picks you are getting his best bets...when you win, he wins.
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