At the Gate - Saturday
April 12, 2014
By Mike Dempsey
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It’s last call.
The final two major Kentucky Derby points races are on tap this afternoon, and it is now or never for several very talented three-year-olds.
The $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass and the $1 million Arkansas Derby both offer 170 points, with the 100 for the winner and 40 for the runner up assuring a spot in the starting gate for the Run for the Roses. The third place finisher will earn 20 points and the fourth place finisher will earn 10 points.
Before the races are run today the points standings show the cut off points at 20 points, with Harry’s Holiday sitting in 20th place. With 340 points being awarded this weekend, several highly regarded horses could be shoved out, including Cairo Prince and Uncle Sigh, who both have 24 points.
There are several talented runners in action today that must fire in order to get to Louisville including the undefeated Bayern, who is the 2-1 second choice on the morning line in the Arkansas Derby.
The Bob Baffert trainee beat first level allowance foes in his last start by 15 lengths with a 98 Beyer Speed Figure. Strong Mandate is the 9-2 third choice in the race and is currently sitting in 27th place in the points standings with just 11 points.
Tapiture is the 9-5 morning line favorite and is safely in the Kentucky Derby field with 42 points.
The Toyota Blue Grass has produced plenty of Kentucky Derby winners, but since the switch to polytrack the importance of the race as a Derby prep has diminished. That will change next year as Keeneland is going back to conventional dirt.
This year’s field is wide-open, a mix of turf and synthetic runners, none of which really look like they could be wearing roses in three weeks.
Bobby’s Kitten is the 3-1 morning line favorite for trainer Chad Brown. The colt has raced exclusively on turf including winning the Pilgrim (G3) last year. A top two finish and his connections have said the colt will head to Churchill Downs to try dirt for the first time.
The Toyota Blue Grass will be televised live on Fox Sports 1 at 4:30 pm (ET) as part of the “Jockey Club Tour on Fox” series.
Will Take Charge is in action today in the race before the Arkansas Derby. The colt is the even money favorite in a field of seven in the $600,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G2). The colt ran second to Game On Dude in the Santa Anita Handicap (G1) in his last outing.
The colt will renew his rivalry with Moreno, who he beat in the Travers (G1) and Pennsylvania Derby (G2) last year. After the race Moreno trainer Eric Guillot accused Luis Saez of using a buzzer, which turned out to be unfounded.
My Multi Track Report for Saturday includes my 12 strongest plays from Aqueduct, Keeneland and Oaklawn Park.
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Here is today’s opening from Aqueduct to get the day off to a good start:
AQU Race 1 Alw $67,000N1X (1:20 ET)
3 Idle American 3-1
5 Prohibition 2-1
4 Front 5-2
7 Spartiatis 6-1
Analysis: Idle American is coming off a good effort last out on the main track going nine furlongs, no match for the winner but running a solid second. The gelding has done his best work over the Big A turf course, winning three of his five trips here with a second. He is in light with the bug Rice and while he has come up short at this level a few too many times he catches a pretty weak group here.
Prohibition went gate to wire in the inner track to beat state bred Alw-2 optional claimers by 12 1/2 lengths. The gelding has landed in the exacta in three of his six trips on turf including a couple of runner up finishes last summer at Delaware Park against non-winners of two. The Philly barn has been on fire this year, hitting at a 39% clip.
WIN: #3 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 3,5 / 3,4,5,7
TRI: 3,5 / 3,4,5,7 / 2,3,4,5,7
Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Aqueduct:
AQU Race 8 Alw $62,000N1X (4:57 ET)
6 Crafty Dreamer 4-1
5 Truth Is 2-1
1 Real Estate Rich / 1a Salutos Amigos 5-2
8 Bobby V. 6-1
Analysis: Crafty Dreamer stalked the early pace and came with a good late rally to finish in the runner up spot over a racing strip that was kind to horses on or near the lead. The third place finisher Bobby V. came back to beat $50,000 claimers in his next outing. This guy has run well in both of his trips on the main track here and the extra furlong here should suit this guy.
Truth Is makes his first start since last November for the McLaughlin barn that is 24% winners (with a +ROI) with runners coming back off a 61-180 day layoff. The colt showed some promise last year breaking his maiden in his debut at the Spa and has a couple of bullet works on the morning tab.
WIN: #6 to win at 3-1 or better.
EX: 5,6 / 1,5,6,8
TRI: 5,6 / 1,5,6,8 / 1,2,5,6,8
Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Keeneland:
KEE Race 10 The Jenny Wiley G1 (5:13 ET)
6 Fitful Skies 8-1
8 Discreet Marq 6-1
2 Stephanie's Kitten 5-2
1 Kitten's Point 5-1
Analysis: Fitful Skies put in a solid effort in her first start after shipping in from across the pond, missing winning the E.P. Taylor (G1) at Woodbine by just a hear at 8-1. The mare comes back here off a 5 1/2 month layoff as she makes her first start for the McLaughlin barn that is 24% winners (with a +ROI) with runners coming back off a 61-180 day layoff. She was just a Group 3 winner in Germany and the Taylor has come up tougher in past years, but this mare tries every time out, landing in the exacta in nine of her 11 career starts. Decent value if she goes off near her 8-1 morning line.
Discreet Marq returns off a four-month break and makes her first start since getting beaten in the Matriarch (G1) by just a nose last out when shipped to Hollywood Park. The filly won four of her eight starts last year including the Del Mar Oaks (G1). There is not a ton of speed signed up to go here so she should have things relatively easy up front. Speed does not fare that well over this turf course but is should be a fair price. The Clement barn is 19% winners with runners coming back off a 61-180 day break.
I have always liked Centre Court but she was a mess during schooling this week in the paddock, so she is one to watch pre-race today.
WIN: #6 to win at 9-2 or better.
EX: 6,8 / 1,2,6,8
TRI: 6,8 / 1,2,6,8 / 1,2,6,8,10
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.
R2: #2 Exclusive Dani 8-1
R6: #9 Qui C’est Moi 12-1
R7: #1 Spritely Mambo 8-1
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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