Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:04 AM

At the Gate - Thursday

Entries are out for the final two Road to the Kentucky Derby point races coming up this Saturday—the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn Park with 100-40-20-10 points at stake and the $200,000 Lexington (G3) at Keeneland with 20-8-4-2 Derby points up for grabs.

The Arkansas Derby features a rematch between the top two finishers of the Rebel (G2) on March 17. Magnum Moon got the victory in his stakes debut for Todd Pletcher while Solomini had to settle for second for trainer Bob Baffert.

While Magnum Moon is safely in the Kentucky Derby field with 50 points, Solomini is currently in 19th in the point standings with 34 and needs at least a fourth-place finish as it appears it will take at least 40 points to make it to Louisville.

The Tampa Bay Derby (G2) winner Quip is also in the field and has 50 points and is assured a starting spot in the gate for the Run for the Roses.

The Lexington has not been much of a factor in recent years for the Derby, but this year is an exception. My Boy Jack, the Southwest (G3) winner and close up third in the Louisiana Derby (G3) in his last start needs some points.

The Keith Desormeaux trainee was going to wait for Louisville, but with just 32 points, currently 20th in the point standings, he needs to win to stamp his ticket. A second or third could still get him into the Derby field depending on defections over the next three weeks.

I will have selections for both Derby points races and the major stakes action in Saturday’s Best Plays Report.

To purchase my Aqueduct Report for Thursday 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)
#5 Hurricane Shelia 6-5
#4 Bartoletta 3-1
#1 New Year's Wish 7-2
#2 Sororitysweetheart 5-2

Analysis: Hurricane Shelia went turf to dirt last out and set the early fractions and could not match strides late with the winner in a runner up finish, holding into the place spot in a photo. She should get clear here and take third compact group gate to wire. She is out of a Carson City mare that has dropped three other foals to race, all winners.

Bartoletta debuts for the Shug barn that is known not to have them fully cranked first out but over the last year has sent out some debut winners. He is hitting at a 10% clip (with a +ROI) with firsters. This gal is by Arch (11% winners with debut runners) out of a Forest Wildcat mare that has dropped two foals to race, both winners. A steady string of works at Payson and would be no surprise to see this gal ready to fire at first asking.

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

Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Aqueduct:

AQU Race 8 Alw $75,000N1X (5:17 ET)
#4 Okinawa 4-1
#9 Mominou 8-5
#5 Conquest Tizfire 5-1
#6 May Flowers 7-2

Analysis: Okinawa is making her first start off a year layoff here for the Chad Brown barn that is 25% winners with runners coming back off +180 day layoff. The filly broke her maiden on turf in her third career start in Dec. of '16 at Gulfstream Park and then showed speed and weakened to finish seventh in the Sweet Chant (G3). That was a good field led by the winner Rymska, who won three stakes on turf in '17. Solid looking works at Payson for her return.

Mominou beat the boys going five furlongs on turf in her third start to pick up her diploma. That outing was off a 3 1/2 month break. She tracked the early pace and drew off smartly late to win by 5 1/2 lengths. Her speed fig earned in that outing is good enough to win at this level. Johnny V. picks up the call and she is back with her own sex here in her first start against winners.

WIN: #4 to win at 7-2 or better.
EX: 4,9 / 4,5,6,9
TRI: 4,9 / 4,5,6,9 / 3,4,5,6,9

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.

R2: #5 River Knight 10-1
R6: #7 Free Kitty 8-1

Good luck today!

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