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At the Gate - Friday
Entries for Sunday’s much anticipated $1 million William Hill Haskell Invitational (G1) came out yesterday and the brilliant filly Untapable was installed as the 2-1 morning line favorite as she takes on the boys.
Trainer Steve Asmussen knows a little something about beating the boys with a filly. He trained Rachel Alexandra, who won the 2009 Preakness (G1) and Haskell.
Asmussen will give a leg up to jockey Rosie Napravnik, who has been on board for five of her wins including the Kentucky Oaks (G1) back in May. She was out with a shoulder injury when Untapable won her last start, taking the Mother Goose (G1) on June 20 with John Velazquez in the irons.
She faces eight foes, with an automatic starting spot in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) hanging in the balance. The Haskell is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In’ race.
California Chrome is on the sidelines at Los Alamitos and Tonalist is going in Saturday’s $600,000 Jim Dandy (G1) at Saratoga, but the filly still faces a talented group.
The Bob Baffert trained Bayern is the second choice on the morning line at 5-2. The colt is coming off a career top effort winning the Woody Stephens (G2) going seven furlongs in his last outing, bouncing back off a disappointing ninth in the Preakness (G1).
The Larry Jones trained Albano (6-1) is coming off a solid win in the Pegasus (G3) over the Monmouth Park main track. The colt was making his first start since a fifth in the Louisiana Derby (G2).
Social Inclusion (8-1) was sent off at 5-1 in the Preakness but was no match for California Chrome and Ride On Curlin in a third place finish, then checked in third last out as the beaten chalk in the Woody Stephens, beaten 7 ½ lengths by Bayern.
Completing the field are Encryption (20-1), Irish You Well (12-1), Just Call Kenny (10-1), Wildcat Red (10-1) and Medal Count (8-1).
The Haskell will be nationally televised on NBC on Sunday and I will include my selections and the supporting stakes in Sunday’s Best Plays Report.
We had a crazy day on Thursday as my second choice won six races on the card, my third choice won two others, and I had one top pick win. It was a good day if you played the Pick 3’s and Pick 4’s. We also had five recommended exactas: $29.40, $20.80, $19.00, $33.00 and $49.20.
To purchase my full card report for Saratoga for Friday click here.
Here is today’s opening race from Saratoga to get the day off to a good start:
SAR Race 1 Md $35,000 (1:00 ET)
4 Acrostic   8-1
6 Untiltherewasyou   15-1
7 Silver Union   9-5
5 Vision of Mine   3-1
Analysis: Acrostic showed some ability last year with a third in her second career start and after returning off the layoff she was sixth and seventh in her last two starts. She comes back here with her first try on dirt and adds blinkers for the Lerman barn. The trainer has won four races from 55 starters going back five years here at the Spa and they were all longshots, a pair at 14-1, 17-1 and 36-1. The filly took some play in her last two starts, sent off at 7-2 and now she looks as if she is going to be a generous price. Pedigree wise she may do better on the main track.
Untiltherewasyou also goes turf to dirt here, last out fading to finish ninth after tracking the early pace trying to get a mile. She adds blinkers and is in an underrated barn with Lisa Lewis. She has a nice pedigree, out of the stakes winner Foolish Kisses ($52,584) who has dropped nine winners including four stakes winners, top earner Gotaghostofachance ($479,645). Blinkers on and she drops into a weaker spot here tagged for $35,000.
WIN: #4 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
Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Saratoga:
SAR Race 9 The Curlin (5:15 ET)
10 Life in Shambles   6-1
3 Protonico   4-1
9 Joint Custody   6-1
2 Viva Majorca   12-1
Analysis: Life in Shambles gets the call while morning line favorite Commanding Curve will run in tomorrow's Jim Dandy (G1) and I am assuming Cousin Stephen may go in that race as well. Our top pick set the early fractions and weakened to finish third in the Easy Goer last out, catching a racing strip that was playing to outside stalkers and closers. The winner Kid Cruz came out of the race to win the Dwyer (G3) in his next outing and will likely go in the Jim Dandy tomorrow as well. The gelding was involved in three straight photos including a tough head loss in the Sir Barton two back. He has been working sharply in the mornings and Rosario sticks for the Clement barn.
Protonico beat Alw-1 optional claimers last out in his first go off a 7 1/2 month layoff. The colt broke his maiden in his debut last September at Delaware Park and then was not a threat in a sixth place finish in the Nashua (G2). The Pletcher barn is 20% winners with runners making their second start off a +180 day layoff. Colt figures to move forward second off the bench and is bred to handle nine furlongs, by Giant's Causeway out of an A.P. Indy mare.
WIN: #10 to win at 3-1 or better.
EX: 3,10 / 2,3,9,10
TRI: 3,10 / 2,3,9,10 / 2,3,5,9,10
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.
R1: #4 Acrostic   8-1
R1: #6 Untiltherewasyou   15-1
R2: #1 Appearance   8-1
R3: #2 Shetan   8-1
R5: #5 Fourseveteen   8-1
R7: #8 Place Card   10-1
R8: #7 Finding Candy   8-1
R9: #2 Viva Majorca   12-1
R10: #9 Fresh Feline   12-1
Good luck today!

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Dempsey: At the Gate - Saturday
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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.

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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.

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