Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:04 AM

At the Gate - Friday

With the Road to the Kentucky Derby point races done, we have a quiet weekend ahead of us, but we do have a solid card at Aqueduct on Saturday, and a couple of big races at my old stomping grounds— a Preakness prep and a $1.2 million race in the foothills of West Virginia.

Saturday’s $125,000 Federico Tesio at Laurel Park serves as a “Win and You’re In” race for the Preakness Stakes (G1). A field of 11 will line up including four that are Triple Crown nominated.

Among those four is Still Having Fun, the 5-2 morning line favorite for trainer Tim Keefe. The colt won the Miracle Wood and then ran fourth in the Private Terms in his last two starts.

The Private Terms winner was V.I.P. Code, who pulled off the upset at 36-1 after checking in fifth in the Miracle Wood. The colt is also nominated to the Triple Crown.

At Charles Town on Saturday night a field of seven will line up in the $1.2 million Charles Town Classic (G2).

Diversify is the 8-5 morning line favorite and comes in off a fourth-place finish in the Clark Handicap (G1) at Churchill Downs in his last outing.

War Story (5-2) won the Challenger at Tampa Bay Downs in his last start after a disappointing 10th place finish in the Pegasus World Cup (G1). The gelding has the services of jockey Javier Castellano, who has won the race in three of the last six years including with Imperative last year and Stanford in 2016.

I will have selections for both races 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 $25,000 (1:20 ET)

2 Dream Fever 4-1

7 Ouro Verde 3-1

1 Mahabodhi Tree 7-2

3 Our Whim 8-1

Analysis: Dream Fever took the field gate to wire but was DQ'd for interference in the stretch when she came in on a foe and was placed second. She bounced back after getting outrun in her two previous starts versus tougher. The Cox trainee owns solid early and mid pace numbers and Kendrick just needs to keep her straight here to come back with a win. She takes on older for the first time here but looks back on track.

Ouro Verde tracked the early pace while saving ground and was no match for a 12 length winner in a runner up finish last out against $16,000 non-winners of two. She was claimed out of the race by the Nevin barn that is 15% winners (with a +ROI) first off the claim. It took her 13 tries for her to finally break her maiden but she catches a pretty weak group here.

WIN: #2 to win at 3-1 or better.
EX: 2,7 / 1,2,3,7
TRI: 2,7 / 1,2,3,7 / 1,2,3,4,7

Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Aqueduct:

AQU Race 8 OClm $80,000C (5:17 ET)

5 Pioneer Spirit 6-1

6 Timeline 2-1

7 Sunny Ridge 5-2

4 Splashtastic 9-2

Analysis: Pioneer Spirit had a four race winning streak snapped last out when he faded to finish fourth after battling for the early lead going a mile here. The winner Harlan Punch came back to win the Stymie by seven lengths with a 105 Beyer but has lost twice since. Our top pick earned a career top two back trouncing Alw-2 optional claimers. He owns solid early and mid pace numbers and figures to bounce back here but is facing a really tough group here.

Timeline makes his first start since fading to finish seventh in the Pennsylvania Derby (G1) last September at Philly. This guy won the Peter Pan (G3) and Pegasus (G3) last year before checking in fifth as the beaten favorite in the Haskell (G1). He returns here for the Brown barn that is 27% winners with runners coming back off a +180 day layoff. He figures to be ready to fire off the bench but our top pick is likely going to offer more value for the top spot.

WIN: #5 to win at 4-1 or better.
EX: 5,6 / 4,5,6,7
TRI: 5,6 / 4,5,6,7 / 3,4,5,6,7

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: #3 Our Whim 8-1
R2: #2 Queenofthechannel 10-1
R4: #8 Barefoot Angel 12-1
R6: #4 troopingthecolor 10-1
R7: #1 Calculated Risk 12-1
R9: #3 Stag of Sylvia 30-1

Good luck today!

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