At the Gate – Friday

As expected, Saturday’s Rebel Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn Park will be split into two divisions. The racing office said the race would split if they received 20 entries but decided to go ahead with two races despite 19 entries.

Interest in the Rebel spiked after the cancelation of the San Felipe (G2) last Saturday at Santa Anita, leaving several Kentucky Derby hopefuls without a race including a pair of top contenders form the Bob Baffert barn.

Game Winner and Improbable are considered two of the favorites for the Run for the Roses and both were being pointed toward the San Felipe. Instead, they had to ship to Los Alamitos to train and now to Hot Springs to race.

Game Winner and Improbable are the co-favorites for the Kentucky Derby at +600, but they will not face each on Saturday.

Improbable will race first, drawing the nine post in the first division of the Rebel. The colt is perfect in three starts, winning the Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) in his last outing on Dec. 8.

Two races later Game Winner will break from the five post in the second division, also making his three-year-old debut. The colt won all four of his starts last year, capping off his season by winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) on Nov. 2.

Baffert has won the Rebel six times in the last nine years. Todd Pletcher saddled the last two winners of the race. Pletcher is having a lean year with Derby contenders and sends no runners this year.

I will have selections and analysis for the Rebel in Saturday’s Best Plays Report.

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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 $25,000 (1:30 ET)
#4 Got the Gist 8-5
#5 Wanna Be Regal 3-1
#3 Causin' Trouble 5-2
#1 Highleelikelee 8-1

Analysis: Got the Gist returns off a 2 1/2 month break after getting beaten double digit lengths in her last two starts, last out in the slop. She returns to the Gargan barn that trained her back in '17. She was forwardly placed in some of her earlier starts including setting the early fractions in the slop at the Spa. She reunites with Carmouche who was aboard her four times and she catches a field without much early pace. Kendrick can steal this one. The barn is 23% winners runners coming back off a 61-180-day break.

Wanna Be Regal tracked the early pace and finished up well in a third-place finish last out, beaten a length for the top spot. Two back she ran third behind repeat winner Promise Me Roses who graduated next out and then beat $16,000 non-winners of two. She has been right in the mix in her last three start and fits here for a low-profile jock and barn.

WIN: #4 to win at 9-5 or better.
EX: 4,5 / 1,3,4,5
TRI: 4,5 / 1,3,4,5 / 1,3,4,5,8

Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Aqueduct:

AQU Race 7 OClm $75,000SAL (4:50 ET)
#2 Clench 3-1
#3 Stone Breaker 7-2
#6 Loverboy Lou 5-2
#4 Running Violence 4-1

Analysis: Clench dueled for the early lead and weakened to finish third last out at a mile and no cuts back to six furlongs. The colt graduated at 6 1/2 at Churchill Downs for a $30,000 tag and was third behind a pair of next out winners in the Heft in his stakes debut two back. The winner Alwaysmining came back to win the Miracle Wood and the runner up Win Win Win returned to win the Pasco and run third in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2). Servis is having a strong meeting here and is 28% winners moving runners from route to sprint.

Stone Breaker graduated in the mud last out against state bred $50,000 maiden claimers in his second career start. The third-place finisher Dr. Lloyd came back to graduate in his next outing on Jan. 26 against state bred maiden special weight foes. The colt earned the top last out speed fig and it was 20 points higher than what he earned in his debut two back. The Baker trainee has come back with three solid looking works and he still appears to have some upside.

WIN: #2 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 2,3 / 2,3,4,6
TRI: 2,3 / 2,3,4,6 / 2,3,4,6,7

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.

R1: #1 Highleelikelee 8-1
R2: #5 Cause I’m Alex 15-1
R3: #2 Too Many Tales 8-1
R5: #6 Moscows Got Talent 12-1
R6: #2 Lucid Dream 8-1
R6: #8 Wisecrack 12-1
R8: #4 Local Counsel 10-1
R9: #4 Dancetrack 15-1

Good luck today!