Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:04 AM

At the Gate - Wednesday

The Kentucky Derby (G1) field is pretty much set barring any last-minute defections, with a full field of 20 going and one of the strongest fields we have seen in years.

It took 39 points to make it into the field, a record. There were only 19 spots open this year with Gronkowski earning a starting spot by winning the European Road to the Kentucky Derby points series.

On the outside looking in is Combatant, who was fourth in the Arkansas Derby (G1) last Saturday. The Steve Asmussen trainee was beaten a head for third by Solomini, costing him a spot in the Derby field unless there is a defection.

It is interesting that Steve Asmussen trains the colt, and trains Snapper Sinclair, Reride and Dream Baby Dream, who finished 21 through 23rd in the point standings.

Justify is taking the most early action, currently at +225 at [...] in early Kentucky Derby wagering. With a 20-horse field likely, that price seems light. While the Bob Baffert trainee likely goes off as the favorite, I would suspect we might see about 3-1 or 7-2 at post time.

The current second choice in the early Derby betting at [...] is Mendelssohn at +525. The Aiden O’Brien trainee is looking to be the first runner to prep in the UAE Derby (G2) to win the Run for the Roses.

The busiest guy in the paddock will be trainer Todd Pletcher. He has four major contenders heading to Louisville. He will saddle Florida Derby (G1) winner Audible (+675), Louisiana Derby (G2) winner Noble Indy (+3000), Wood Memorial (G2) winner Vino Rosso (+950) and Arkansas Derby (G1) victor Magnum Moon (+725).

Over the next few weeks I will give you my thoughts on the major contenders leading up to the first Saturday of May.

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 Sp Wt (1:20 ET)

4 Midnight Sway 5-2

1 Disclude / 1a Ma Meatloaf 7-5

6 Brittas Bay 7-2

3 Mertz 5-1

Analysis: Midnight Sway is one of two in here making their debuts for the Ward barn that is 30% winners (with a +ROI) with first timers. The filly is by Midnight Lute (10% winners with debut runners) out of a Vindication mare that has dropped a pair of winners. Solid looking works at Keeneland and barn's go to guy Garcia, who hits at a 41% clip when riding for this barn is on this filly.

Disclude is one of two debut runners sent out by Pletcher. The filly is by Overanalyze (15% winners with debut runners) out of an Elusive Quality mare that has dropped three foals to race, a pair of winners, top earner stakes winner Lost Raven ($359,050). Entrymate Ma Meatloaf has decent looking works on the morning tab and completes a strong entry for Pletcher who is 28% winner with firsters.

WIN: #4 to win at 9-5 or better.
EX: 1,4 / 1,3,4,6
TRI: 1,4 / 1,3,4,6 / 1,2,3,4,6

Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Aqueduct:

AQU Race 7 Clm $25,000 (4:44 ET)

7 Forest Blue 7-2

8 War Eagle's Return 3-1

4 Cerro 2-1

5 Conquest Twister 20-1

Analysis: Forest Blue chased the early pace and weakened to finish fourth last out against $50,000 claimers and drops into a better spot here tagged for $25,000. The top pair in his last race came back to win next out, the winner Morning Buzz taking the Peeping Tom and then beating Alw-2 foes. Two back our top pick ran fifth in another key race in which the top pair won next out. He is 0 for 4 since landing in NY with Diodoro and he looks well spotted here.

War Eagle's Return dueled for the early lead against Alw-2 optional claimers and tired to finish sixth last out. He was claimed back by the Levine barn that lost him three back for the same tag. He ran a good second two back for a $50,000 tag and is a 12-time winner in his 46 career starts. He returns here off a 3 1/2 month break here with a drop taking on easier than he was facing last year.

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

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.

R3: #3 Matty’s Magnum 12-1
R4: #7 Rough Justice 8-1
R7: #5 Conquest Twister 20-1
R8: #7 The Crecheron 10-1

Good luck today!

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