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At the Gate - Saturday
Today’s Rebel (G2) at Oaklawn Park is a Road to the Kentucky Derby points race and the track was nice enough to split the race into divisions, so we actually get a pair of Rebels.

One of the reasons the track decided the split the race was the cancellation of last Saturday’s San Felipe (G2) at Santa Anita. The two early favorites for the Kentucky Derby (G1) were being pointed toward that race and instead they have both shipped to Hot Springs.

Instead of having the two square off in the San Felipe trainer Bob Baffert gets to separate his pair of Game Winner and Improbable. The two are current listed as the co-favorites in early Kentucky Derby wagering at BetOnline at +600.

We will see Improbable first. The colt is the 3-5 morning line favorite in the eighth race, taking on eight foes. The colt makes his first start since winning the Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) on Dec. 8.


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Two races later Baffert will saddle Game Winner, who is the 4-5 morning line favorite for the second division. The colt makes his first start since winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1).

Both colts are undefeated and are going to be short prices, and Baffert is very tough when he ships to Oaklawn Park. The Hall of Fame trainer has won the Rebel six times in the past nine years.

I think Improbable might be the most probable winner among the duo, and I’ll try and beat Game Winner this afternoon.

My Best Plays for Saturday includes my eight strongest plays from Aqueduct and Oaklawn Park.

Now is the perfect time to purchase my Monthly Package for just $99.95. It gives you a month of Aqueduct daily and Best Plays Report each Saturday and Sunday.

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 $14,000N3L (1:30 ET)
#7 Sandy Lane 8-1
#2 American Lincoln 6-5
#6 Unsullied 9-2
#5 Domain 5-1

Analysis: Sandy Lane tracked the early pace and finished evenly in a third-place finish last out in the slop behind a loose on the lead gate to wire winner who was taking full advantage of a racing strip that was playing to inside speed. The Klesaris trainee has caught off tracks in three of his last four starts, the other a fourth trying to get nine furlongs at this level. He stretches out to a mile here and his last win was at the distance at Laurel Park where he beat $12,500 non-winners of two. He gets a jock upgrade here to Junior and is going to be a fair price.

American Lincoln takes another class drop after a third last out against $25,000 non-winners of three. This guy ran second in the Long Branch last summer at Monmouth Park but has not been much of a threat in his last four starts since. He faces easier and his last three figs look good enough to beat this group, but his price is going to be on the short side.

Wagering
WIN: #7 to win at 5-1 or better.
EX: 2,7 / 2,5,6,7
TRI: 2,7 / 2,5,6,7 / 2,3,5,6,7

Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Aqueduct:

AQU Race 8 OClm $75,000N1X (5:31 ET)
#3 Show Prince 4-1
#8 Rally Cap 5-2
#7 Hushion 7-2
#4 The Big Lebanese 8-1

Analysis: Show Prince prompted the early pace form the outside and finished evenly in a fourth-place finish in the state bred Rego Park last out in his first trip against winners, beaten 2 1/4 lengths at 44-1. The gelding graduated two back in the slop here in his fourth career start. Four foes he beat that day came back to graduate in their next starts. He should get a good tracking trip sitting just off the pace and among the top three in here appears likely to offer the best value for the top spot.

Rally Cap lunged at the break, prompted the early pace and was no match for the winner in a runner up finish last out at this level. The colt was third two back against $50,000 starter optional claimers in his first start against winners. He graduated in his second career start when dropped in for a $50,000 tag. His numbers have improved in each outing and a repeat of his last effort looks good enough to beat this group.

Wagering
WIN: #3 to win at 3-1 or better.
EX: 3,8 / 3,4,7,8
TRI: 3,8 / 3,4,7,8 / 3,4,6,7,8

Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Oaklawn Park:

OP Race 10 The Rebel G2 (6:06 CT)
#7 Our Braintrust 6-1
#5 Game Winner 4-5
#8 Gunmetal Gray 10-1
#2 Laughing Fox 10-1

Analysis: Our Braintrust appears to have the best shot of beating the chalk in here. The colt broke on top, gave up the lead while going four wide, tracked the early pace, came with a three wide bid and was bumped by a foe and leaned on Not That Brady, battling on gamely to come up just a head and a neck back in third. Not That Brady came back with a dud in an eighth-place finish in the Gotham (G3) next out. Two back our top pick ran a good second in the Jerome over a wet track behind Mind Control, who came back to run second in the Gotham in his next outing. The blinkers go on as he makes his second start since landing with the Casse barn. His numbers have improved with each outing and has the recency edge over the favorite in here.

Game Winner was being pointed toward the San Felipe (G2) but had to change plans, ship to Los Al to work and now ship here to make his three-year-old debut. He was perfect in four starts last year, capping the year off by winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1). Three runners in that race came back to win stakes in their next starts but several others tossed in duds including the runner up Knocks Go who has gone 0 for 3. The Baffert barn is 25% winners with runners coming back off a 61-180-day layoff and has won this race in six of the last nine years. He certainly has shown talent but can't get really excited about the prospect of backing him at less than even money here on his return.

Gunmetal Gray won the one-mile Sham (G3) two back to start off his year and then was the runner up in the Robert B. Lewis (G3) last out in the slop behind Mucho Gusto. He ran behind Game Winner twice last year, 4 1/2 lengths back in a runner up finish in the American Pharoah (G1) and beaten 12 1/2 lengths when fifth in the Juvenile. He looks primed for a good effort in his third start of his current form cycle.


Wagering
WIN: #7 to win at 9-2 or better.
EX: 5,7 / 2,5,7,8
TRI: 5,7 / 2,5,7,8 / 2,5,6,7,8

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
R 1: #7 Sandy Lane 8-1
R4: #7 Lemon Crush 15-1
R5: #4 Abby Normal 8-1
R6: #5 Buss the Bell 8-1
R7: #5 Oh K Funnybone 12-1
R8: #4 The Big Lebanese 8-1

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 covering the biggest events including the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup.
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