Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:04 AM

At the Gate - Wednesday

My short “vacation” is over as we are back racing five days a week at Aqueduct starting this afternoon after going just Friday through Sunday the past month.

In addition, we are now just 24 days away from the Kentucky Derby (G1), and we have just two more Road to the Kentucky Derby points races at stake, both this weekend.

The $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) is the last major Derby prep, with 100-40-20-10 points up for grabs while the $200,000 Lexington (G3) at Keenland offers up 20-8-4-2 points.

It was an amazing weekend with Justify proving he is the real deal in the Santa Anita Derby (G1), Good Magic showing he is back on track with his win in the Toyota Blue Grass (G2) and Vino Rosso adding to the Todd Pletcher juggernaut with a win in the Wood Memorial (G2) at Aqueduct.

As a handicapper, tossing contenders without a foundation as a two-year-old and runners trying to come from overseas was pretty easy in the past.

Not so much this year with Justify and Magnum Moon attempting to win the Run for the Roses without running as a juvenile, something that has not been done since Apollo in 1882.

Contenders exiting the UAE Derby (G2) in Dubai have been a toss, but Mendelssohn should not be dismissed so easily. He already has a start in the U.S., winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) and his UAE Derby (G2) was one of the fastest Derby preps we have seen this year.

At [...], Justify is now the betting favorite for the Kentucky Derby at +225, and Mendelssohn has been bet down to +525, lower than such accomplished U.S. runners as Bolt d’Oro (+575), Good Magic (+850) and Magnum Moon (+950).

We get to see Magnum Moon, Quip and Solomini in action in the Arkansas Derby on Saturday and My Boy Jack will attempt to secure his spot in the Derby by picking up points in the Lexington.

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

To purchase my Aqueduct Report for Wednesday click here .

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

AQU Race 1 Md $40,000 (1:20 ET)
#3 Pirate's Treasure 7-5
#1 Full of Hope 6-5
#5 Carthon 9-2
#2 Dublin Leprechaun 15-1

Analysis: Pirate's Treasure makes his second start off the bench here for the Jerkens barn. Last out the colt prompted the early pace from the inside and weakened to finish fourth and now drops in for a tag for the first time. He owns a good edge in early and mid pace numbers and figures to move forward off his return effort. The barn is 19% winners (with a +ROI) moving runners from sprint to route.

Full of Hope makes his first start since last April at Santa Anita where he was a good third, beaten a length for the top spot. He returns as a gelding and lands with the Nevin barn that is 13% winners with runners coming back off a +180 day layoff. He is out of the stakes winner Hope Rises ($170,855) who has dropped three winners.

WIN: #3 to win at 8-5 or better.
EX: 1,3 / 1,2,3,5
TRI: 1,3 / 1,2,3,5 / 1,2,3,5,6

Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Aqueduct:

AQU Race 8 OClm $62,500N2X (5:17 ET)
#9 Funtastic 3-1
#2 Ticonderoga 7-2
#3 Voodoo Song 9-5
#1 Monster Bea 9-2

Analysis: Funtastic stalked the early pace and made a mild late bid while not getting much to run at in a third-place finish at this level going a mile at Gulfstream Park off a three-month break. He returns here in a good spot and has the recency edge over her two main foes. He was only beaten a neck two back in the Gio Ponti here last November. This guy has the pedigree to be a good one, out of the stakes winner Quiet Dance ($224,240) who has dropped 11 other winners and four are stakes winners, top earner Saint Liam ($4.4 million).

Ticonderoga is also sent out by Brown. The colt was last seen in an eighth-place finish in the Hill Prince (G3) last October. He won the Palm Beach (G3) last year for his lone win in five starts. Brown hits at a 25% clip with runners coming back off a +180 day layoff. He won the Palm Beach last year off a four-month break. He fits well in this spot and figures to be fit and ready to go off works at Palm Meadows.

WIN: #9 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 2,9 / 1,2,3,9
TRI: 2,9 / 1,2,3,9 / 1,2,3,4,9

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: #2 Dublin Leprechaun 15-1
R2: #4 Dr Luber’s Kiss 10-1
R3: #5 Jewel Can Disco 8-1
R5: #10 Misericordia 10-1
R5: #9 No Deal 8-1
R6: #4 Emiliana’s Hope 10-1
R7: #4 Everyonelovesjames 8-1
R9: #5 Iwishirish 10-1
R9: #1 Lady Rullah 8-1

Good luck today!

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