At the Gate – Saturday

We have three Road to the Kentucky Derby points races on tap on Saturday afternoon, the busiest day so far this year for three-year-olds and their connections who have an eye on making it to Louisville on the first Saturday of May.

All three races will be nationally televised on FOXSports 2 from 4:00 to 6:30 ET.

If I had to take a guess I would say we probably will not be seeing the 2018 Kentucky Derby winner this afternoon, but early in the season we could see one or two jump up with big efforts and become a top flight contender.

The $250,000 Withers (G3) only drew six runners but there are three talented runners in Firenze Fire, Marconi and Avery Island.

Avery Island is the 8-5 morning line favorite off his win the Nashua (G2) and runner up finish in the Remsen (G2).

The intriguing runner is Marconi (3-1) who is a half brother to $5.6 million earner Mucho Macho Man.

The $350,000 Holy Bull (G2) at Gulfstream Park drew the largest field with 11 entered and 10 likely to start. Trainer Dale Romans entered four but likely will scratch one.

His best shot may be Free Drop Billy who won the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) last fall at Keeneland. The likely favorite will be Enticed, winner of the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) last November at Churchill Downs.

The $150,000 Robert B. Lewis (G3) at Santa Anita did not draw a tough field, with six of the nine runners exiting maiden races.

One of those is the Richard Mandella trained Peace, who was a good looking maiden winner in his last start and is bred to be a good one.

My Multi-Track Report for Saturday includes my full card reports for both Aqueduct and Gulfstream Park along a couple of the stakes races from Santa Anita.

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 $20,000 (12:50 ET)
#3 American Road 4-1
#4 War Eagle's Return 2-1
#2 Arbitrator 1-1
#6 Strueves Star 12-1

Analysis: American Road makes his second start off a six-month layoff here. Last out off the bench he stalked the early pace and finished up well for the runner up spot. He was claimed out of the race by the Contessa barn that is 7% winners first off the claim. He won back to back starter optional claiming races at Laurel Park last spring. He gets a jock upgrade from the bug to Rocco and should be tighter second off the bench.

War Eagle's Return was a sharp winner last out in the slop over $16,000 claimers for the Englehart barn. The gelding was claimed out of the race by the Toscano barn that is 6% winners first off the claim. He has done his best work sprinting but looks sharp enough to be able to handle a one turn mile.

WIN: #3 to win at 3-1 or better.
EX: 3,4 / 2,3,4
TRI: no play

Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Aqueduct:

AQU Race 8 The Withers G3 (4:35 ET)
#2 Marconi 3-1
#4 Avery Island 8-5
#1 Firenze Fire 9-5
#3 Bal Harbour 6-1

Analysis: Marconi faces winners here for the first time as Pletcher looks for his fourth win in this race in the last nine editions. The colt has not off cleanly in either start, rallying to finish in the runner up spot in his debut and last out getting away awkwardly and rallying for a smart looking win. The third-place finisher Roaming Union came back to graduate in his next start with an 89 Beyer on Jan. 18 here. This guy still looks as if he has a ton of upside. He was a $2 million Keeneland purchase, by Tapit out of the stakes winner Ponche de Leona ($260,870) who has dropped four other winners including a pair of stakes winners, top earner Mucho Macho Man ($5.6 million).

Avery Island tracked the early pace and made a mild late bid in a runner up finish last out in the Remsen (G2) as the beaten favorite. He won the Nashua (G2) two back in his first go against winners, dueling for the early lead and drawing clear to win by 4 3/4 lengths. There is not much pace in here and he should be right in the mix early against this group.

WIN: #2 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 2,4 / 1,2,4
TRI: no play

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

GP Race 10 The Forward Gal G3 (4:43 ET)
#4 Take Charge Paula 3-1
#8 My Miss Lilly 8-1
#1 Sultry 10-1
#7 Miss Mo Mentum 9-5

Analysis: Take Charge Paula pressed the early pace and battled on gamely to win the House Party last out in the slop here for her fourth win in six career starts. She won the Smart Halo two back at Laurel Park in a game win by a head. She owns a solid pace profile throughout with good early and mid pace numbers. Her lone poor effort was going two turns at Churchill Downs in the Pocahontas (G2). She should be able to handle the extra furlong here.

My Miss Lilly prompted the early pace and drew clear late to a good looking maiden score in her debut for the Hennig barn that seems to have come alive with younger runners over the past six months or so and has hit with four of his first 10 starters here at the meeting. This gal was a $670,000 Keeneland purchase, out of the stakes winner Wicked Deed ($85,560) who has dropped three other winners including stakes winner Just Wicked ($208,460). She still appears to have a ton of upside.

WIN: #4 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 4,8 / 1,4,7,8
TRI: 4,8 / 1,4,7,8 / 1,3,4,7,8

Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Santa Anita:

SA Race 8 The San Pasqual G2 (4:10 ET)
#1 Pavel 4-1
#3 Accelerate 4-1
#7 Irish Freedom 6-1
#9 Top of the Game 3-1

Analysis: Pavel stretches back out to nine furlongs after checking in fourth in the Malibu (G1) at seven furlongs last out. This guy earned back to back triple digit Beyers winning the Smarty Jones (G3) by six lengths and then running a solid third in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) in his first start against older. He was outclassed in the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) but looks like a good fit in this spot. He has shown he is better going two turns.

Accelerate tracked the early pace and could not get to the loose on the lead gate to wire winner last out in the San Antonio (G2). He makes just his third start since last August for the Sadler barn. He won the San Diego 'Cap (G2) at Del Mar and then ran a good third in the Pacific Classic (G1). He seldom runs a bad one but is 0 for 8 over the main track here with seven in the money finishes.

WIN: #1 to win at 3-1 or better.
EX: 1,3 / 1,3,7,9
TRI: 1,3 / 1,3,7,9 / 1,2,3,7,9

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: #6 Strueves Star 12-1
R3: #1 Decorator Jenn 12-1
R6: #4 My Perfect Gem 10-1

Good luck today!