Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:04 AM

At the Gate - Friday

We have a great warmup to Kentucky Derby Day with an outstanding 13-race card on Friday highlighted by the $1 million Kentucky Oaks (G1).

The Oaks drew a full field of 14 with Midnight Bisou and Monomoy Girl likely to get most of the attention in the betting. However, there is another filly to keep any eye on.

Rayya makes her U.S. debut and her first start since landing with the Bob Baffert barn. She won the UAE Oaks (G3) and then she ran second in the UAE Derby (G2) facing the boys.

She is 12-1 on the morning line and may not be as good as the top two contenders. But her performance may give us a clue about just how good Mendelssohn is.

Mendelssohn trounced the UAE Derby field by 18 ½ lengths, leaving Rayya far behind in second. If Rayya runs big race today in the Oaks, that might be a clue we need to upgrade the chances of Mendelssohn I=in the Kentucky Derby tomorrow.

Mendelssohn is looking to become the first UAE Derby alum to make an impact on the Run for the Roses. There have been 13 runners that have come to Louisville off races in the UAE Derby and they have not run well, a fifth by Master of Hounds in 2011 the best finish.

There are five supporting stakes on today’s card at Churchill Downs and the stars are out. Last year’s Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming is in action in the $400,000 Alysheba (G2) which is the eighth race on the card.

Last year’s Kentucky Oaks winner Abel Tasman makes her return to race under the Twin Spires, the even money favorite in the $350,000 La Troienne (G1), the fifth race on the card.

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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 Herbies Toys / 2b Waynes Footsteps 3-1
#1 Social Fan / 1a Flat Rate 1-2
#4 Wrath 5-1
#3 Cool Man Cletus 15-1

Analysis: Waynes Footsteps is one of two in here sent out by the Dilger barn that is 15% winners (with a +ROI) with first timers. Dilger worked as an assistant to Pletcher for seven years. The colt is by Central Banker out of a stakes placed Runaway Groom mare that has dropped seven foals to race, six winners, top earner stakes winner Wired Bryan ($537,434). Entrymate Herbies Toys was a $130,000 Keeneland purchase out of a Seeking the Gold mare that has dropped six winners. The colt is working as if he has some ability.

Flat Rate adds blinkers after a third in his debut. The colt did not have the best of trips in his debut as the chalk. The colt broke inward at the break, had to steady briefly at the half mile pole, got bumped around at the eighth pole and finished up well for the runner up spot. Entrymate Flat Rate is by Violence and the first foal to race out of an Empire Maker mare, her first foal to race. Decent works at Palm Meadows but the 1-2 morning line seems light on this duo.

WIN: #2 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 1,2 / 1,2,4
TRI: no play

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

BEL Race 8 The Flat Out (5:18 ET)
#6 Scuba 4-1
#1 Hard Study 8-5
#5 Zanotti 7-2
#7 Harlan Punch 6-1
Analysis: Scuba tracked the early pace while saving ground took over the lead and did not have enough punch in the stretch in a third-place finish in the New Orleans 'Cap (G2) at Fair Grounds. The winner Good Samaritan is my top pick in the Alysheba G2) later today at Churchill Downs. He was s a good second behind our third-choice last summer at the Spa in the Birdstone at 1 3/8 miles. He has shown he can get the extra ground and has been facing a bit tougher than he catches here.

Hard Study came off the bench last out to beat optional claimers in his first start since winning the Birdstone last August. The Pletcher trainee has now landed in the exacta in 9 of his 11 career starts. The barn is 21% winners with runners making their second start off a +180 day layoff. No reason to think he will not move forward off his last effort but his price is going to end up on the light side.

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

Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Churchill Downs:

CD Race 11 The Kentucky Oaks G1 (6:12 ET)
#10 Midnight Bisou 5-2
#11 My Miss Lilly 10-1
#14 Monomoy Girl 2-1
#7 Rayya 12-1

Analysis: Midnight Bisou ships in from the left coast for the Spawr barn where last out she was an impressive winner of the Santa Anita Oaks (G1), her third win in a row after losing her first two career starts by a nose. She rallied from eight in a field of nine last out after tracking the pace two back in her win in the San Ysabel (G3) in her first route try and over a wet fast surface. The way she pulled away in her last two starts she still has a little something left in the tank for today. Smith sticks on this filly, who is out of the stakes winner Diva Delite ($300,067).

My Miss Lilly has the shot of breaking up a chalky exacta. The filly was a game winner of the Gazelle (G2) last out at the Big A at nine furlongs. She has moved forward speed fig wise with each start and with the added ground. Another move forward puts her right in the mix here and her 10-1 morning line looks fair enough. She was a $670,000 Keeneland purchase, out of the stakes winner Wicked Deed ($85,560) who has dropped three other winners including stakes winner Just Wicked ($208,460).

Monomoy Girl has won five of her six career starts with the lone loss coming by a nose in the Golden Rod (G2) over the main track here. She is coming off a gate to wire score in the Ashland (G1) last out at Keeneland. She showed a different dimension two back coming from off the pace to win the Rachel Alexandra (G2) at Fair Grounds. She will need to be sent breaking from the far outside here. She is a logical player in this spot but with the tough post and short price we will try to beat her for the top spot.

WIN: #10 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 10,11 / 7,10,11,14
TRI: 10,11 / 7,10,11,14 / 5,7,10,11,14

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: #3 Cool Man Cletus 15-1
R2: #5 Simona 10-1
R3: #2 Binkster 10-1
R6: #8 Oozie 8-1
R7: #8 Compagno 8-1
R9: #6 Set the Trappe 12-1

Good luck today!

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