Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:06 AM

At the Gate - Saturday

The big day has arrived, and 2017 Horse of the Year Gun Runner is the 4-5 morning line favorite for the $16 million Pegasus World Cup (G1), the word’s richest race that will be contested this afternoon at Gulfstream Park.

The biggest question coming into the race is whether Gun Runner can overcome the 10 post. There is a very short run into the first turn at Gulfstream Park in 1 1/8 mile races, and the favorite could be vulnerable if he loses ground on that first turn.

The Steve Asmussen trainee is going to be tough. He won his last four starts, all Grade 1 victories, by a combined 24 ¾ lengths.

If you do not like playing chalk (and I don’t) there are viable options, among them the duo sent out by Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.

Baffert sends out West Coast (8-1), last year’s Travers (G1) winner and Collected (8-1) who is much better than he showed in a strangely run third place finish in the San Antonio (G2).

Sharp Azteca (6-1) figures to take some action off his huge win in the Cigar Mile (G1) and Gunnevera (15-1) may end up the “wise guy” selection and will be running late.

Stellar Wind (30-1) takes on the boys and is an interesting option as is the European import Toast of New York, who was making babies but back on the track. He missed winning the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) by a nose to Bayern.

The 12-race card gets underway at 11:30am ET and the Pegasus is the final race on the card and will be televised on NBC. There are eight stakes on the card.

To get my Gulfstream Park and Aqueduct Reports for one price just click on my Multi-Track Report for Saturday.

My Best Plays Report for Saturday includes my nine strongest plays from Aqueduct and Gulfstream Park.

To purchase my Aqueduct, Gulfstream Park 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 $25,000N3L (12:20 ET)

6 A Dixie Twister 3-1

1 Anna Rae 2-1

2 For Honor 5-2

3 Littlefirefighter 6-1

Analysis: A Dixie Twister goes turf to dirt here for the Kimmel barn. The mare put in a good effort last out against $35,000 non-winners of three, coming with a wide run to finish third behind a pair of next out winners. The winner Startwithsilver came back to beat state bred Alw-2 optional claimers in her next outing on Jan.25. She has worked sharply for her return here off a 4 1/2 month break and her last go on dirt was a good second at Keeneland last spring against $40,000 non-winners of two.

Anna Rae came with a good late rally to beat $16,000 non-winners of two in her first go off the claim by the RRod barn. She steps up a notch here and wheels back quick with just a week off. A repeat of her last effort puts her in the mix in this spot and the barn is ending out live runners at the meeting, hitting at a 27% clip.

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

Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Aqueduct:

AQU Race 7 Md Sp Wt (3:20 ET)

3 Belleview Spring 9-2

4 Collective Effort 3-1

1 Scottish Devil / 1a Speke 7-2

10 Killala Bay 8-1

Analysis: Belleview Spring was beaten just a neck two back in a NY Stallion Series race and then last out went off as the chalk in the mud bit could not go with the winner late after battling for the early lead, settling for the runner up spot. He was 9 1/2 lengths clear of the rest of the field in the effort. He draws the rail here and owns solid early and mid pace numbers. If he runs back to his first two career starts he will pick up his diploma in this spot. He is out of a More Than Ready mare that has dropped one winner.

Collective Effort goes turf to dirt here after a second and a third in two trips over the weeds. This guy has raced seven times and has landed in the money in every start without winning. He has a couple of thirds on dirt at Finger Lakes in state bred stakes. He is out of the stakes winner The Funky Express ($123,400) who has dropped two other foals to race with one winner. He is a logical threat, but our top pick appears to have a bit more upside.

WIN: #3 to win at 7-2 or better.
EX: 3,4 / 1,3,4,10
TRI: 3,4 / 1,3,4,10 / 1,2,3,4,10

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

GP Race 11 The South Beach (4:50 ET)

1 Westit 15-1

11 Celestine 5-2

9 Stormy Victoria 7-2

10 Storm the Hill 9-2

Analysis: Westit exits one of the divisions of the Tropical Park Oaks where the filly was outrun early and came with a good late rally to finish a fast closing second, beaten 3/4 of a length for the top spot. The filly is 0 for 3 since landing in the U.S. with Motion, her first two starts in graded company. She has found a good spot here and with the rail draw and Juarez she likely will not be as far back in this spot. The barn is having a good meet with seven of 14 runners landing in the exacta. The 15-1 morning line looks generous.

Celestine has the class edge, winning the Just a Game (G1) back in June of '16. She only made four starts last year, winning a pair including the Honey Fox (G2) over the grass here at a mile. Last out in the Noble Damsel (G3) she made a mild late rally to finish third behind the winner Off Limits, who came back to win the Athenia (G3) and then the Matriarc (G1) in her next two starts. The mare loves the grass here, landing in the exacta in 7 of 8 trips. She returns here off a four-month break for the Clement barn that is 17% winners with runners coming back off a 61-180-day layoff.

WIN: #1 to win at 8-1 or better.
EX: 1,11 / 1,9,10,11
TRI: 1,11 / 1,9,10,11 / 1,9,10,11,12

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.

R2: #9 Straw Hat 12-1
R2: #4 Withaflourish 8-1
R3: #1 Summer Revolution 8-1
R4: #3 Our American Star 8-1
R5: #8 Lane Allen 8-1
R5: #2 Big Guy Ian 10-1
R7: #10 Killala Bay 8-1
R9: #7 Status Asthmaticus 20-1

Good luck today!

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