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Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 14:04 PM

At the Gate - Thursday

The post position draw for the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby was pretty dull expect perhaps to trainer Todd Pletcher.

Pletcher is starting four runners on Saturday in the Run for the Roses and halfway through the draw none of his contenders had a post position. It did not exactly end well, with Magnum Moon drawing 16, Vino Rosso the 18 post and Noble Indy the 19. His fourth runner is Florida Derby (G1) winner Audible who drew the five post.

Having three of his four runners breaking from the auxiliary gate is probably not what he had in mind, but there is a bright side. Five Derby winners since 2008 have broken from the secondary gate and Nyquist in 2016 had an outside post, breaking from the 13.

Justify got a perfect draw with post seven. The Bob Baffert trainee was installed as the 3-1 morning line favorite. Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith has the call.

Mendelssohn drew post 14 and is the 5-1 second choice on the official morning line. The Aiden O’Brien trainee has Ryan Moore coming in for the return call on the UAE Derby (G2) winner.

The post none of the trainers wanted was the one post, which went to Firenze Fire (50-1), who was fourth in the Wood Memorial (G2) in his last outing.

Baffert’s other runner Solomini drew the 17 post, which since they added a starting gate in 1930 has had 39 runners exit that stall and none of them have won.

We are back in action at Belmont Park this afternoon with a good nine race card. We are off to a good start at the meeting and tomorrow we will talk about the 12-race Oaks Day card.

Now is the perfect time to purchase my Monthly Package, which will give you a full month of reports from Belmont Park, my Best Plays Report each weekend and my Kentucky Oaks, Kentucky Derby and Preakness Day reports.

My Kentucky Oaks Day Report is now available and my Kentucky Derby Report will be up by Thursday night.

To purchase my Belmont Park Report for Thursday click here.

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

BEL Race 1 Md Sp Wt (1:30 ET)

2 Abyssinian 7-2

6 Give Me a Hug 6-5

5 Mae Never No 5-2

4 Lonely Road 8-1

Analysis: As with the fourth race today Ward has a pair going in here and he has won with 11 of his last 19 juvie firsters. Abyssinian was a $70,000 Keeneland purchase, by Cairo Prince out of a stakes placed Tapit mare, her first foal to race. Solid works at Turfway Park on the fake stuff followed by a couple of drills at Keeneland. Out of those 11 winners Jimenez has been aboard six of them.

Give Me a Hug is sent out by the Pletcher barn that is 28% winners with first timers. The filly is by Uncle Mo (17% winners with debut runners) out of a Deerhound mare that has dropped seven foals to race with six winners. She spent the winter at Palm Beach Downs and has a couple of drills since returning. She looks ready to go.

WIN: #2 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 2,6 / 2,5,6
TRI: no play

Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Belmont Park:

BEL Race 8 Alw $65,000N1X (5:18 ET)

1 Vortex Road / 1a Unbridledadventure 8-5

8 Miss Jen 8-1

2 Talkn Til Midnight 2-1

6 Zenbennie 4-1

Analysis: Vortex Road came off a two-month break with a good effort at this level, rallying to finish in the runner up spot beaten a length. The filly beat $20,000 claimers two back at Gulfstream Park with a career top speed fig. She has landed in the exacta in 7 of her 12 trips over the turf. Castellano picks up the call for Levine and a repeat of her last effort looks good enough to beat this group. Entrymate Unbridledadventure is coming off three straight third place finishes on the main track and is 0 for 6 on turf and is the weaker half of the entry.

Miss Jen tracked the early pace, took over the led and could not finish, weakening to finish third in her turf debut. She was coming back off a three-month break and was only beaten two lengths by our third choice who is going to be a much shorter price. She is out of a Golden Missile mare that has dropped four other winners including one turf winner. She looks capable of moving forward off her last effort and the 8-1 morning line looks fair enough.

WIN: #1 to win at 9-5 or better.
EX: 1,8 / 1,2,6,8
TRI: 1,8 / 1,2,6,8 / 1,2,6,7,8

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.

Belmont Park
R1: #4 Lonely Road 8-1
R8: #8 Miss Jen 8-1
R9: #9 Alien Invasion 8-1

Good luck today!

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