Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:05 AM

At the Gate - Friday

We have a fun weekend ahead of us with three Road to the Kentucky Derby points races on tap on Saturday—the $300,000 Gotham (G3) at Aqueduct, the $400,000 Tampa Bay Derby (G2) at Tampa Bay Downs and the $400,000 San Felipe (G2) at Santa Anita.

Among the other stakes are the $600,000 Santa Anita Handicap (G1), $400,000 Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1) and $400,000 Triple Bend (G1) at Santa Anita and the $200,000 Tom Fool Handicap (G3) at the Big A.

Both Enticed and Free Drop Billy were cross entered in the Gotham and Tampa Bay Derby, but they reportedly made it on a plane headed to New York for the Gotham. The New York area got spanked with a snowstorm which made travel tricky, but the track should be fast by Saturday.

We should have a clearer picture of top Derby contenders after a puzzling Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream Park last Saturday where Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) champ Good Magic ran a rather uninspiring third behind longshot winner Promises Fulfilled.

The biggest name in action is Bolt d’Oro, who was the beaten favorite last fall in the Juvenile. He makes his much anticipated and slightly delayed three-year-old debut in the San Felipe. A field of eight line up including McKinzie, the Sham (G3) winner and Lombo, who won the Robert B. Lewis (G3) in his last start.

The Tampa Bay Derby drew 11 but with Free Drop Billy and Enticed headed to the Big Apple a field of nine will start.

Sam F. Davis (G3) winner Flameaway will likely go off as the betting favorite. Among his foes are Davis third Vino Russo (4-1), Holy Bull (G2) third place finisher Tiz Mischief (8-1) and Pasco winner World of Trouble (5-1).

Nine go in the Gotham and it’s a tough group. Free Drop Billy is coming off a runner up finish in he Holy Bull, Enticed won the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) last fall and was fourth in the Holy Bull and Firenze Fire won the Jerome and was second in Withers (G3) in his last outing.

I will have selections and analysis for all of the major stakes in Saturday’s Best Plays Report.

To purchase my Aqueduct Report for Friday click here .

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

AQU Race 1 Clm $32,000N2L (1:20 ET)
#1 My Last Million 8-5
#5 Salty Smile 6-5
#4 Northernstreetgal 8-1
#3 Florida Lady 3-1

Analysis: My Last Million tracked the early pace and weakened to finish fifth last out over a wet track going seven furlongs. The filly stretches out to a mile here and she graduated at the distance two back for a $50,000 tag. The Baker barn is 17% winners moving runners from sprint to route. She likely gets sent breaking from the rail and looks like a good fit here dropping in for a $32,000 tag and facing non-winners of two.

Salty Smile tracked the early pace and was no match for the winner late in a runner up finish against state bred Alw-1 optional claimers going a mile in the slop. She broke her maiden two back against state bred $50,000 foes at 6 1/2 furlongs. The RRod filly is bred to like a wet track which we may get today with a ton of rain and snow falling on Wednesday.

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

Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Aqueduct:

AQU Race 8 OClm $40,000N2X (4:56 ET)
#3 Mission Command 3-1
#8 Heavy Meddle 4-1
#4 Brimstone 8-1
#5 For Pops 8-1

Analysis: Mission Command was a sharp winner over state bred Alw-1 foes last out over a wet track in a race washed off the turf. The runner up Benevolence came back to beat state bred Alw-1 foes in his next outing. He returns off nearly a three month break here stepping up a notch for the RRod barn that is 17% winners with runners coming back off a 61-180 day layoff.

Heavy Meddle beat state bred Alw-1 foes two back and in his last outing he was checked in sixth beaten four lengths in his first start at this level. He is bred to love a wet tack and was beaten just a head while a maiden in his lone go over a wet track. He seldom runs a bad one, landing outside of the money just last out and in one of his turf starts. Solid works on the morning tab for his first go off a 3 1/2 month break for Mott.

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

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.

R1: #4 Northernstreetgal 8-1
R3: #3 Unbridledadventure 10-1
R6: #8 Frattello Del Nord 8-1
R8: #4 Brimstone 8-1
R8: #5 For Pops 8-1
R9: #6 Andronikos 10-1
R9: #4 Ever Young 12-1

Good luck today!

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