Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:59 AM

At the Gate - Friday

We were supposed to have four Road to the Kentucky Derby points races this Saturday, but we are now down to three with the cancellation of racing at Santa Anita.

A spate of equine fatalities has led Santa Anita to cancel racing indefinitely, postponing the $500,000 San Felipe (G2) which was to offer up 50-20-10-5 Derby points. The card also was going to feature the $500,000 Santa Anita Handicap ($500,000).

Track officials have brought in Dennis Moore to reinspect the racing surface, which has received an above average amount of rain during the meeting. Moore has more than four decades of experience working on track surfaces.

When Santa Anita starts back up is anyone’s guess. I heard a rumor it could be as late as March 28.

In the meantime, the two early favorites for the Kentucky Derby (G1) were both slated to go in Saturday’s San Felipe. Both are in the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.

Game Winner is the current early betting favorite for the Kentucky Derby at +600. The colt was perfect in his four starts last year, capping off his championship season by winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1).

His stablemate Improbable is the second choice in early Derby wagering at +900. The colt is also undefeated, making three starts last year, winning the Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) in his last outing on Dec. 8.

One or both could end up getting sent to Oaklawn Park for the $1 million Rebel (G1) on March 16. Baffert was already pointing Mucho Gusto for the Rebel. The colt wo the Robert B. Lewis (G3) at Santa Anita in his last start. His Derby odds stand at +2000.

Let’s not forget about Baffert’s Roadster, who was a smart looking winner against first level optional claimers on Mar. 1. He is being pointed toward the Santa Anita Derby (G1) on April 6.

There is some chatter about Oaklawn Park splitting the Rebel into two divisions, in which case we may see Game Winner, Improbable and Mucho Gusto in Hot Springs next week.

Saturday’s Best Plays Report will include all the Road to the Derby action—the $300,000 Gotham (G3) at Aqueduct, the $400,000 Tampa Bay Derby (G2) at Tampa Bay Downs and the $200,000 Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) at Turfway Park.

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 Md Sp Wt (12:50 ET)
#5 Incidentally 3-1
#2 Stole E 1-1
#4 Skychief 2-1
#3 Powerfully Built 6-1

Analysis: Incidentally makes his debut for the Magner barn that has won with a pair of firsters here, one in December and again on March 1 with seven firsters. This colt was a $50,000 purchase, by Flatter out of a Rubiano mare that has dropped three foals to race, all winners. A solid looking work tab and the colt looks ready to fire at first asking and only has to face four foes here.

Stole E pressed the early pace and could not get by the gate to wire winner last out over a racing strip that was playing to inside speed. The colt was making his first start off a four month break and first on dirt. He checked in sixth on turf in his first two outings, both in stakes company. The logical one to beat here for the Terranova barn that has been live at the meeting, hitting at a 30% clip.

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

Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Aqueduct:

AQU Race 6 Clm $16,000N2L (1:00 ET)
#1 Moolah Schmoolah 5-2
#2 Overheated 5-1
#3 Claire's Kitty 6-1
#5 Votre Coeur 8-5

Analysis: Moolah Schmoolah is back on the main track after getting outrun last out at Gulfstream Park against $50,000 starter allowance foes, the top pair coming back to win next out. Two back on dirt at Churchill Downs going a one turn mile she was a game second, beaten a half-length for the top spot. She makes her second start since landing with former Chad Brown assistant Abreu. She drops into an easier spot here tagged for $16,000 and facing non-winners of two.

Overheated faces winners for the first time here after prompting the early pace and taking over heading for home, holding on to win by 1 3/4 lengths as the heavy favorite. She was beaten by double digit lengths in three of her first four starts but looks back on track here after her maiden score. She looks capable of moving forward off her last outing and has enough pedigree to handle the extra ground.

WIN: #1 to win at 2-1 or better.
EX: 1,2 / 1,2,3,5
TRI: 1,2 / 1,2,3,5 / 1,2,3,5,7

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 Powerfully Built 6-1
R4: #1 He’smyluckyfellow 6-1
R6: #3 Claire’s Kitty 6-1
R7: #4 Parlapiano 6-1
R8: #7 My Amanjena 8-1
R8: #2 Inflection 12-1

Good luck today!

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