At the Gate – Friday

What a day we have coming up on Saturday with three Road to the Kentucky Derby point races—the $1 million Santa Anita Derby (G1), $1 million Toyota Blue Grass (G2) and the $750,000 Wood Memorial (G2).

Before we get to the big day we have a pretty good Friday, with opening day at Keeneland and we are back in action at Aqueduct after no racing for the last five days.

Keeneland’s opening day card features the $150,000 Transylvania (G3) for three-year-olds that drew a field of 12 led by the Chad Brown trained Analyze It.

The colt won his first two career starts last year by a combined 10 ½ lengths, taking the Cecil B. DeMille (G3) at Santa Anita in his stakes debut. He must overcome a tough post and a 4 ½ month layoff.

The feature at the Big A on Friday is the $150,000 Distaff Handicap (G3) which drew a field of eight that will go seven furlongs on the main track.

If the weather holds up at the Big A we also have a pair of turf races on the card.

Weather will be a factor on Saturday. At one point there was 5-8 inches of snow in the forecast for Lexington, Kentucky, but now there is one to three inches of snow Friday night and less than an inch for Saturday morning, so we should be good to go.

At Aqueduct, there is rain with some snow mixed in for Friday night and on Saturday it is expected to clear up with overcast skies and we should have a fast track by post time although the two grass races are in question.

On Saturday I will have full card reports for both Aqueduct and Keeneland and my Best Plays Report will include all of the major stakes action including from Santa Anita.

My Best Plays Multi Track Report for Friday includes my eight strongest plays from Aqueduct and Keeneland.

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

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

AQU Race 1 Md Sp Wt (1:20 ET)
#6 Candygram 8-5
#3 Earned Success 5-2
#1 Never Nevermore 3-1
#2 Dr. Hipp 4-1

Analysis: Candygram makes his third career start here for the Jerkens barn. He was fifth in his debut and then was second last out, pressing the early pace and no match for the winner while 6 1/2 lengths clear of the rest of the field. The $300,000 Ocala purchase is by Candy Ride out of the stakes winner Church Camp ($150,425) who has dropped two other foals to race, both winners.

Earned Success is one of two firsters in here sent out by the Brown barn that is 17% winners with first timers. This gelding was a $350,000 Keeneland purchase, a good number for a Mineshaft runner. He is out of a stakes placed Lion Heart mare that has dropped one winner. Solid looking works on the morning tab.

WIN: #6 to win at 9-5 or better.
EX: 3,6 / 1,3,6
TRI: no play

Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Aqueduct:

AQU Race 8 The Distaff Hcp G3 (5:17 ET)
#8 Sounds Delicious 8-5
#7 Holiday Disguise 9-2
#4 Divine Miss Grey 9-5
#6 Picco Uno 12-1

Analysis: Sounds Delicious took the field gate to wire to win the Correction last out by eight widening lengths and did it while down along the inside, which was not the best place to be that day. The filly has now won five of her six career starts and she gets a test here as there is other speed and this is a tougher spot. However, she looks up to it. She owns the edge in early and mid pace numbers but has shown she does not need the lead and from the outside post might get a good tracking trip sitting off the pace. Either way she is the one to beat here at a light price.

Holiday Disguise would benefit if there is a speed duel. Last out she tracked the early pace and was no match for our third choice in a runner up finish in the Heavenly Prize going a mile. The Rice trainee was making her first start outside of the NY bred ranks. She makes her third start off the bench here and looks capable of breaking up a chalky exacta with her best.

WIN: #8 to win at 8-5 or better.
EX: 7,8 / 4,6,7,8
TRI: 7,8 / 4,6,7,8 / 2,4,6,7,8

Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Keeneland:

KEE Race 9 The Transylvania G3 (5:30 ET)
#12 Analyze It 7-5
#1 Maraud 3-1
#2 Tigers Rule 15-1
#8 Captivating Moon 12-1

Analysis: Analyze It makes his first start of 2018 after winning both of his starts last year impressively on turf. He broke his maiden in his debut at Belmont park by 6 1/4 lengths and then won the Cecil B. Deville when shipped to Del Mar in his first start against winners. The runner up in that race was Pubilius Syrus, who came back to win the Eddie Logan and Baffle at Santa Anita in his next two starts. He returns here off a four month for the Brown barn that is 28% winners with runners coming back off a 61-180 day layoff. The post is not great and the price may end up on the light side, but this guy just looks as if he still has a ton of upside.

Maraud chased the early pace and finished gamely to win the Palm Beach (G3) last out by a neck. The third-place finisher Therapist came back to win the Cutler Bay with Speed Franco running second. He ran well in a couple of thirds over good ground at Gulfstream Park last year and we may see some give in the ground here if the rains come early.

WIN: #12 to win at 8-5 or better.
EX: 1,12 / 1,2,8,12
TRI: 1,12 / 1,2,8,12 / 1,2,5,8,12

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: #5 Two Down One to Go 8-1
R5: #6 Side Tracks 8-1
R7: #10 Puparee 8-1
R8: #6 Picco Uno 12-1
R9: #7 Miracolo 10-1

Good luck today!