Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:06 AM

At the Gate - Monday

The third of this holiday weekend’s Road to the Kentucky Derby points races is on tap at Oaklawn Park this afternoon with 17 points up for grabs in the $150,000 Smarty Jones.

The race serves as a prep for the $900,000 Rebel (G2) and the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) later this meeting.

The race drew seven, but it appears just five will head to the gate. Lone Rock ran fourth in a first level allowance race on Saturday and likely will scratch and Navistar, the 5-2 third choice on the morning line could not get transportation to Hot Springs and will scratch.

That leaves it as a showdown between Combatant and Mourinho with 10 Derby points at stake for the winner.

Combatant was second in the Springboard Mile at Remington Park last out while Mourinho ships in from the west coast for the Bob Baffert barn off a runner up finish in the Bob Hope (G3) in his last outing.

Completing the field are Tap Daddy, who was third in the Bourbon (G3) in October at Keeneland, Arched Feather, a maiden winner in his third career start and Bode’s Maker, who faded to finish seventh in the Springboard Mile in his last start.

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

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

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

AQU Race 1 Clm $16,000N2L (12:20 ET)
#1 Giant Ending 8-1
#6 Three Eighty Eight 7-5
#3 Sand Shark 1-1
#4 Thirtydaysinjune 15-1

Analysis: Giant Ending set the early fractions from the two path on a day the outer paths were best and she weakened to finish fourth at this level. She broke her maiden at Finger Lakes four back and was a good second against Alw-2L foes there two back. There is not much speed in here and with the rail draw Gomez may be able to shake loose early.

Three Eighty Eight stalked the early pace, came with a good five wide move and then could not get to the winner late in a runner up finish against $40,000 non-winners of two going a mile. The mare drops in for a $16,000 tag but these are still non-winners of two. Rice goes with the bug who she has had some success with. She fits here but her price along with our third choice is going to be short.

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

Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Aqueduct:

AQU Race 8 The Interborough (3:50 ET)
#9 Lucy N Ethel 6-1
#7 Heavenly Score 5-1
#4 Divine Miss Grey 4-1
#6 Come Dancing 3-1

Analysis: Lucy N Ethel took the field gate to wire two back to win the Pumkin Pie going six furlongs over the main track. The runner up Indulgent came back to win the Go for Wand (G3) in her next outing on Dec. 2. She stretched out to a mile last out and she dueled for the early lead and weakened to finish fifth. She won her first four career starts including the Prioress (G2) in Sept. of '16 but has made just four starts since. In like the cut back to seven furlongs and the price looks fair enough.

Heavenly Score took the field gate to wire to beat Alw-3 optional claimers last out with a career top speed fig going seven furlongs here. Her previous six starts came on turf and her first four were on the inner track here including a runner up finish in the Cicada. The surface switch seems to have suited this gal and she looks headed in the right direction form wise for the Terranova barn.

WIN: #9 to win at 9-2 or better.
EX: 7,9 / 4,6,7,9
TRI: 7,9 / 4,6,7,9 / 1,4,6,7,9

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

OP Race 8 The Smarty Jones (4:38 CT)
#1 Combatant 2-1
#4 Mourinho 3-2
#3 Tap Daddy 8-1
#7 Bode's Maker 30-1

Analysis: Combatant gets the call in the first Road to the Kentucky Derby points race in Hot Springs this year. It looks as if we will have a field of five as Navistar could not get transportation to come and Lone Rock ran fourth in a first level allowance race here on Saturday. Our top pick tracked the early pace and came up the inside to finish a good second in the Springboard Mile at Remington Park in his first start against winners. Three of the last six editions of this race have been won by runners exiting that race including last year. The colt should get a good tracking trip from the inside and has moved forward in each outing. The $320,000 Keeneland purchase is out of a Boundary mare that has dropped six other winners, top earner Timeless Indy ($256,062).

Mourinho invades from the west coast for Baffert who is always dangerous in Derby preps here but that has been in the Rebel (G2) and Arkansas Derby (G1) as I was surprised to see he has not won this race. The colt adds blinkers as he goes two turns for the first time. She was second in the Speakeasy as the chalk and again the beaten favorite last out in the Bob Hope (G3) at Del Mar going seven furlongs. The winner was Greyvitos, the winner of the Springboard Mile. This guy was a $625,000 Ocala purchase and a half to stakes winner Sandy's Surprise ($283,915). Baffert is 28% winners (with a +ROI) when adding the hood.

WIN: #1 to win at 8-5 or better.
EX: 1 / 3,4
TRI: no play

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: #1 Giant Ending 8-1
R1: #4 Thirtydaysinjune 15-1
R2: #5 Big Auk 8-1
R4: #3 Hong Kong Gardens 10-1
R4: #9 A J’s Way 12-1
R4: #8 Pay the Price 15-1
R5: #4 Bamboo Stick 15-1
R7: #6 Mighty Zealous 8-1

Good luck today!

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