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At the Gate - Saturday
We were finally back in action at Aqueduct on Friday, the first day of the New Year the track has been able to race.

We knocked down the winner Hembree ($2.80) in the opener in a small field and then scored with Lillard Hall at $13.40 in the second race, topping a $34.80 daily double and a $55.50 exacta and we were on our way to a great day.

Well…

The fog did not go away, and racing was canceled after the second race, yet another day of hours of handicapping wasted.

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What is in store for us for Saturday in the Big Apple? We have rain overnight Friday which will likely make the track off and its going to get chilly with winds of 20 to 30 mph with higher wind gusts possible.

The rescheduled Jerome, which is a Road to the Kentucky Derby points race is on tap on Saturday, which means I am sure the NYRA will do everything possible to make sure we are racing.

Perhaps we will have a power outage, a sink hole or a water main break. What else could go wrong in 2018 for racing in New York?

In addition to the Big A we will look at the stakes action from Fair Grounds with the feature being the $200,000 LeComte (G1) which is a Road to the Kentucky Derby points race.

My Best Plays Report for Saturday includes my nine strongest plays from Aqueduct and Fair Grounds.

To purchase my Aqueduct and Best Plays Reports for Saturday click here.

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

AQU Race 1 Clm $12,500 (12:20 ET)
#5 Try Flying 4-1
#3 Conquest Bigluck E 3-1
#2 Praetereo 5-2
#1 Nominal Dollars 5-1

Analysis: Try Flying
made a mild late rally to finish third last out over a wet track for this tag going a mile. Three back this guy beat $10,000 foes at Philly going two turns. He looks headed in the right direction and he certainly has enough pedigree to handle the extra ground. He is by Tiznow out of a A.P. Indy mare. He has landed in the money in three of five trips on wet tracks and we may still have some moisture in the surface today.

Conquest Bigluck E prompted the early pace and finished gamely in a runner up finish last out against $16,000 starter allowance foes and drops back in for a tag for his third start off the claim by the Toscano barn. The gelding was a good second three back for a $16,000 tag. He started off his '17 by beating $40,000 foes at Oaklawn Park in the mud. The class drop should put this guy in the mix in this spot.

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

Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Aqueduct:

AQU Race 8 The Jerome (3:50 ET)
#2 Seven Trumpets 3-1
#7 Firenze Fire 3-5
#1 Coltandmississippi 6-1
#6 Old Time Revival 10-1

Analysis: Seven Trumpets
did not show much in his debut at Ellis Park when sent off as the 6-5 chalk in a fifth-place finish but has been perfect in two starts since. He broke his maiden at Churchill Downs in his second career outing and then was a game winner versus Alw-1 foes last out going 6 1/2 furlongs. The $205,000 Ocala purchase looks capable of handling the one turn mile here and still appears to have some upside. He is by Morning Line out of the stakes winner Angel Trumpet ($297,589). He has a decent enough off track pedigree if the track is still wet today.

Firenze Fire makes his first starts since running seventh in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1). This guy won a pair of stakes last year, winning the Sanford (G3) at the Spa going six furlongs and the Champagne (G1) at Belmont Park going a one turn mile. The Servis barn is 26% winners with runners coming back off a 61-180 day layoff. The colt has managed to get in a couple of recent works on Dec. 27 and Jan. 8 despite the bad weather that shut down training for four days. He is the logical one to beat but the 3-5 morning line sure is light.

Coltandmississippi was bumped coming out of the gate, prompted the early pace and weakened to finish fifth in the Smooth Air at Gulfstream Park. He was stretching out of the Mucho Macho Man after he drew the rail and here he is on the inside again today. Blinkers go on for Pletcher who is 32% winners when adding the hood for the first time. The colt was a $400,000 Keeneland purchase out of the stakes winner Selva ($327,340).

Wagering
WIN: #2 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 2,7 / 1,2,6,7
TRI: 2,7 / 1,2,6,7 / 1,2,4,5,6,7

Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Fair Grounds:

FG Race 9 The LeComte G3 (5:03 CT)
#5 Kowboy Karma 6-1
#10 Instilled Regard 4-1
#12 Principe Guilherme 5-2
#13 Prince Lucky 8-1

Analysis: Kowboy Karma
returns off a two month break after rallying to finish in the runner up spot in the JF Lewis at Laurel Park going six furlongs. He was fourth in the Champagne (G1) two back where he made a mild late run. The runner up Good Magic came back to win the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) and the third-place finisher Enticed came back to win the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) in his next outing on Nov. 25. Three back in his first route he ran a good second in the Sapling behind Bal Harbour, who came back to win the Smooth Air and was one of four to exit that race with a win next out. Jones has won this race three times, most recently with Mr Bowling in 2012. The stretch out will suit this guy and we should catch a fair price.

Instilled Regard was a smart maiden winner at Santa Anita two back and last out was a close up third in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) and placed second thanks to a DQ. McKinzie was elevated to the win and then came back to win the Sham (G3) in his next outing on Jan. 6. The Hollendorfer trainee was a $1,050,000 Ocala purchase last March. Castellano takes the call and this guy fits well here if he runs back to his last outing.

Principe Guilherme makes his stakes debut here after trouncing maidens and Alw-1 foes in his first two starts by a combined 18 lengths. The colt took the field gate to wire over the main track here last out in a good looking effort. The $600,000 purchase is by Tapit out of the stakes winner Aubby K ($435,004), her first foal to race. The colt appears to have some serious potential but draws a bum post and may end up a light price.

Wagering
WIN: #5 to win at 9-2 or better.
EX: 5,10 / 5,10,12,13
TRI: 5,10 / 5,10,12,13 / 5,8,10,12,13

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: #4 It’s Hot Out 8-1
R4: #9 Salty Slew 8-1
R8: #6 Old Time Revival 10-1

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.
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