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At the Gate - Friday
Just when I thought we would see our first racing at Aqueduct in 2018, the track decided the racetrack was unsuitable for racing and canceled the nine-race card on Thursday.

It is the seventh consecutive card that has been canceled due to snow, frigid temperatures and now the track being deemed unsuitable.

Racing at the Big A on Friday it not a sure thing, as the forecast calls for rain through most of the day.

The feature on Friday afternoon is the $100,000 La Verdad which drew a field of seven, but Holiday Disguise will scratch.

Trainer Linda Rice’s barn at Belmont Park is under quarantine after an unraced three-year-old trained by Rice tested positive for the equine herpesvirus.

Rice has 40 horses stabled at Belmont Park and they will not be able to run until the filly gets a clean test and will force Rice to scratch four runners out of today’s card.

The morning line favorite for the La Verdad is Quezon (7-5) who is coming off a victory in the Garland of Roses over a wet track at the Big A in her last outing.

I am going with Absatootly (3-1), who dueled for the early lead and weakened to finish third in the Garland of Roses. She likes a wet track and may be able to turn the tables.

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Coming up on Saturday we have a pair of Road to the Kentucky Derby points races—the $200,000 LeComte (G3) at Fair Grounds and the $150,000 Jerome (G3) at Aqueduct.

A field of 13 likely goes in the LeComte if the filly Wonder Godot scratches. The 5-2 morning line favorite is Principe Guilherme, who won his first two career starts by a combined 18 lengths.

The Steve Asmussen trainee was a $600,000 Keeneland purchase and looks very talented, although he did not draw well with the 12 post.

The Jerome drew a field of eight including Firenze Fire, who won the Sanford (G3) and Champagne (G1) last year and was seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) in his last outing.

I will have selections and analysis for the two Derby preps in tomorrow’s column.

To purchase my Aqueduct Report for Friday click here.

Here is the opening race from Aqueduct to get the day off to a good start:

AQU Race 1 Alw $50,000s (12:20 ET)
#1 Mr. Dougie Fresh 7-2
#5 Hembree 2-1
#6 Vilma 9-5
#3 Brianbakescookies 5-1

Analysis: Mr. Dougie Fresh goes turf to dirt here for the McLaughlin barn. Last out this gelding put in a solid effort in a runner up finish in a 12-horse field, beaten a length for the top spot. He graduated on the main track at Philly last February and beat $40,000 non-winners of two on turf two back. These are not as tough as he faced last out and he is bred to love a wet track, by Ghostzapper out of a Pulpit mare.

Hembree exits the same race as our top pick. He dueled for the early lead and weakened to finish third, a head behind our top pick. He is 0 for 2 on the main track including a fifth in the slop at Churchill Downs against Alw-1 optional claimers last May. A decent off track pedigree and he is in light with the seven-pound bug.

Wagering
WIN: #1 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 1,5 / 1,5,6
TRI: no play

Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Aqueduct:

AQU Race 8 The La Verdad (3:50 ET)
#2 Absatootly 3-1
#6 Quezon 7-5
#4 Holiday Disguise 5-2
#1 Wonderment 12-1

Analysis: Absatootly dueled for the early lead and weakened in the stretch to finish third last out in the Garland of Roses over a wet track here on Dec. 9. She won a pair of stakes last year including the state bred Iroquois two back where she came from off the pace, earning a career top speed fig. She owns a solid pace profile throughout and there is not a ton of true speed in here and she can either be sent or sit just off the pace. Her best and she can turn the tables on the favorite in here. She has landed in the money in seven of her eight trips on wet tracks.

Quezon made a good late rally to get up and win the Garland of Roses last out. She ran second to our top pick tow back. She has done her best work on wet tracks which she is not going to get today. She is the logical one to beat but our top pick is going to offer a bit more value for the top spot.

Wagering
WIN: #2 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 2,6 / 1,2,4,6
TRI: 2,6 / 1,2,4,6 / 1,2,3,4,6

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.

Aqueduct
R2: #2 Lillard Hall 8-1
R3: #6 Baronet 12-1
R7: #6 Gypsy Janie 10-1
R8: #1 Wonderment 12-1
R9: #3 Starlite Mission 15-1
R9: #5 Orchid Party 12-1

Good luck today!


  
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