Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:01 AM

At the Gate - Saturday

The feature this afternoon at Aqueduct is the $200,000 Red Smith (G3) which drew a full field of 10 if the race stays on turf.

It seems like the last time we saw a race on turf in the Big Apple was during the Disco Era, but it’s actually just been about a week or so.

There are three races carded for the turf today, two of which I assume will be moved to the main track and the Red Smith I am hoping stays on the inner turf course.

Zulu Alpha is the 5-2 morning line favorite if the race stays on turf. The Mike Maker trainee won the Sycamore (G2) at Keeneland in his last start at 1 ½ miles in his first start off the claim.

I am looking for more of a price with Inspector Lynley, who was a decent third in the Knickerbocker (G2) at Belmont Park over good ground in his last outing.

The feature at Churchill Downs is also on turf, a field of eight going in the $100,000 River City Handicap (G3) at 1 1/8 miles. The races were taken off the turf on Friday, but the weather is on the improve although I doubt we see a firm surface.

I landed on a price with Master Merion, who is making his third start off the bench for the Wesley Ward barn. The gelding has landed in the exacta in 9 of his 13 career starts on turf and has handled ground with give to it.

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Here is the opener from Aqueduct to get the day off to a good start:

AQU Race 1 Clm $10,000 (12:20 ET)

1 No Distortion 6-1

5 Sparty Boy 8-5

4 Marriage Fever 5-2

2 Becker's Galaxy 7-2

Analysis: No Distortion prompted the early pace from the rail and weakened to finish fourth last out against $16,000 foes. He makes his second start for the Magner barn that claimed him two back for the same tag and now he drops in for a $10,000 tag. The gelding owns solid early and mid pace numbers and has a second and a third in his two trips at the distance.

Sparty Boy made a mild late run to finish fourth last out against $12,500 foes going a mile at Belmont Park. He caught a racing strip that was kind to runners on or near the lead that day. He was claimed out of the race by the RRod barn that is 30% winners (with a +ROI) first off the claim. His last pair of speed figs fit here but his price is going to be on the short side.

WIN: #1 to win at 7-2 or better.
EX: 1,5 / 1,4,5
TRI: no play

Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Aqueduct:

AQU Race 8 The Red Smith G3 (3:47 ET)

7 Inspector Lynley 9-2

5 Soglio 10-1

3 Zulu Alpha 5-2

6 Call Provision 7-2

Analysis: Inspector Lynley gets the call if this stays on the turf. The Shug trainee stalked the early pace and came with a five wide bid to rally for third beaten two lengths in the Knickerbocker (G2) over good ground at nine furlongs. His last win came three back in the restricted Lure at the Spa which was also over good ground. He is a two-time Grade 3 winner and has shown he can handle ground with some give to it. The big question is the added ground here as he has not won past 1 1/8 miles in his career. He has enough pedigree and the way he has been finishing suggests he may be able to handle it.

Soglio was a sharp winner versus Alw-2 foes at Keeneland last out at 1 1/2 miles. He was up on the pace two back in the Kentucky Turf Cup (G3) at 1 1/2 miles and held on gamely for a third-place finish, beaten just 3/4 of a length for the top spot and edged for the place spot by a neck by Bigger Picture. Maker claimed this guy for $50,000 last December and he has racked up nearly $200,000 this year including a couple of good efforts in Grade 3 company. The gelding has handled ground with some give to it and his 10-1 morning line looks more than fair.

WIN: #7 to win at 4-1 or better.
EX: 5,7 / 3,5,6,7
TRI: 5,7 / 3,5,6,7 / 3,5,6,7,8

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

CD Race 10 The River City Hcp G3 (5:36 ET)

1 Master Merion 10-1

3 Mr. Misunderstood 8-5

4 Oscar Nominated 4-1

5 Big Changes 5-1

Analysis: Master Merion looks like decent value if this guy goes off near his 10-1 morning line. Last out the gelding was bumped coming out of the gate and made a good late run to finish third against allowance foes at Keeneland going 1 1/16 miles. Two back in the restricted Point of Entry at Kentucky Downs he stalked the early pace and did not have enough punch left late in a fifth-place finish, his first go off a 2 ½ month break. The winner Next Shares came back to pull off the upset in the Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) at 23-1 and then was 13th in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1). Ward thought enough of this guy to send him to Royal Ascot back in June where he was not a threat in the Royal Hunt Cup. The gelding has run well over ground with some give to it with the question mark the nine furlongs, as he has not gone this far yet. He is out of a Danehill mare and should be able to handle the extra ground.

Mr. Misunderstood is perfect in three trips over the Churchill Downs turf, winning the Wise Dan (G2) back in June. He had a tough post in the Shadwell Turf Mile where he made a middle move but weakened in the stretch to finish sixth. He won the Commonwealth Turf (G3) here last fall over ground labeled as good. The Brad Cox trainee is 10 for 15 in his career on turf and has won at nine furlongs. He looks tough, but his price is going to be on the short side.

Oscar Nominated tracked the early pace and came up short in the stretch in the Sycamore (G3) last out at Keeneland over good ground going 1 ½ miles, fading to finish eighth at 4-1. The five-year-old has won just twice in his last 18 starts, his last win coming in the William L. McKnight Handicap (G3) at Gulfstream Park back in January. He has been facing mostly tougher than he catches here but has shown he is better going longer.

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

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: #2 Jump Ruler 12-1
R3: #1 Posse Needed 10-1
R4: #1 Blindwillie Me Tell 10-1
R5: #3 Pink Sands 8-1
R5: #6 Big Birthday 8-1
R6: #1 Causforcelebration 8-1
R7: #15 Caledonian 8-1
R7: #8 Lunaire 12-1
R8: #5 Sogliio 10-1

Good luck today!

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