Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:01 AM

At the Gate - Thursday

Thursday’s early Pick 5 sequence looks very enticing, but two of the races are carded for turf and we started off the week yesterday with the two turf races moved to the main track.

The opener today drew a field of just five, but it is a pretty wide-open race. Taken Aim is the 7-5 morning line favorite, but she really is not a standout.

The key to the early Pick 5 paying off is the two turf races. The second race is a maiden special weight race which if it sticks on turf will have a field of 11.

The fourth race is scheduled for turf, a one-mile test for $50,000 maiden claimers that drew a field of full field of 12.

The third and final leg of the sequence are dirt races with fields of seven. My top pick is not the morning line favorite in any of the five races.

As I am writing this on Wednesday afternoon the entries for opening day at Gulfstream Park are not out yet. It is Claiming Crown Day and I expect there will be full fields for all of the races.

I did see that my least favorite trainer Jorge Navarro has 16 horses entered on Saturday, and he plans an all out assault on winning the Gulfstream Park championship meeting this year. He has finished second to Todd Pletcher in each of the past three seasons.

The thought of handicapping so many races with Navarro trainees in them does not sound like much fun. No trainer seems to move horses forward so inexplicably than this guy.

I could just head out to Del Mar on Saturday. We do have the $300,000 Hollywood Derby (G1) on tap.

We have a great card at the Big A on Saturday which features the final Grade 1 race of the year in New York, the $750,000 Cigar Mile, one of four graded stakes on the card.

Now is the perfect time to purchase my Monthly Package for just $99.95. It gives you a month of Aqueduct daily and my Best Plays Report each Saturday and Sunday.

To purchase my Aqueduct Report for Thursday click here.

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

AQU Race 1 Md Sp Wt (12:20 ET)
#5 Bestinthebusiness 5-1
#4 Taking Aim 7-5
#3 Acting Chipper 9-5
#1 Kingdom's Queen 4-1

Analysis: Bestinthebusiness makes her second start off the bench and first going a mile here for the Shug barn. She checked in a non-threatening fourth in her debut at Gulfstream Park back in January at just under 6-1 in an eight-horse field. Off the bench last out she never got involved in a sixth. She has the pedigree to handle the extra ground and picks up the bug. There is not much pace in here and she may end up getting sent. She is out of a stakes placed Yes It's True mare that has dropped four winners, top earner stakes winner Do Share ($432,548).

Taking Aim was third in her debut as the beaten favorite and checked in third again last out, both starts coming at Laurel Park. She makes her first start here for Rice who is 28% winners with newcomers to the barn. She was a $250,000 Keeneland purchase, out of a Deputy Minster mare that has produced seven winners, top earner stakes winner Tapizar ($972,632).

WIN: #5 to win at 7-2 or better.
EX: 5 / 3,4
TRI: no play

Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Aqueduct:

AQU Race 7 Clm $25,000N2L (3:17 ET)
#5 Solitary Gem 5-2
#1 Malarkey 8-1
#7 Critique 9-5
#6 Exceed the Goal 10-1

Analysis: Solitary Gem tracked the early pace while saving ground, angled out three wide and finished gamely to miss by just a nose last out at this level. She was 2 1/4 lengths ahead of the third-place finisher Twofer, who came back to beat $16,000 non-winners of two while the sixth-place finisher
She'sakittykat came back to beat $16,000 non-winners of two here on Nov. 23. The filly makes her third start of her current form cycle and a repeat of her last is good enough to handle this group.

Malarkey stalked the early pace and could not get by the winner in the stretch in a runner up finish against $16,000 non-winners of two. She adds blinkers and was claimed out of her last start by the Avila barn that has started just 10 runners this year without a win. Going back five years the barn is 22% winners (with a +ROI) first off the claim. If this one is live she will show it on the tote.

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

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.

R3: #1 Achilles Warrior 8-1
R4: #3 Poppy Joe Rocks 8-1
R5: #2 Carissimo 12-1
R6: #12 Marble Moon 8-1
R7: #1 Malarkey 8-1
R7: #6 Exceed the Goal 10-1
R8: #2 Tiznow’s Smile 8-1

Good luck today!

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