Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:59 AM
At the Gate - Saturday
There is $1 million up for grabs and perhaps more importantly 170 Road to the Kentucky Derby points in today’s Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Grounds.
The winner gets 100 points assuring a starting spot in the gate on the first Saturday of May and the runner up, who earns 40 will most likely also stamp his ticket.
War of Will is the 6-5 morning line favorite and the Mark Casse trainee already has 60 points and is safely in the Kentucky Derby field. The colt is the third choice in early odds at +1200.
Does that make him vulnerable?
At 6-5 I think so and I’ll look for a bit more value with Spinoff and Sueno, who are both 8-1 on the morning line.
They both appear to have some upside. Spinoff makes his second start off the bench for the Todd Pletcher barn and Sueno is coming off a solid second in the Southwest (G3) at Oaklawn Park.
The race is the final leg of an all-stakes Pick 4 which looks very hittable.
The feature at Aqueduct this afternoon is the $100,000 Cicada for three-year-old fillies which drew a field of eight led by the undefeated Stonesintehroad, the 2-1 morning line favorite.
The Jeremiah Englehart trainee won the state bred Franklin Square in gate to wire fashion in her last outing.
My Best Plays for Saturday includes my eight strongest plays from Aqueduct and Fair Grounds.
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Here is the second race from Aqueduct (the opener looks too chalky) to get the day off to a good start:
AQU Race 2 Clm $16,000N2L (2:03 ET)
#4 Third Down Card 8-1
#1 Claire's Kitty 7-5
#3 Midnight Sky 7-2
#5 Dazzling Speed 5-2
Analysis: Third Down Card stalked the early pace in the slop and weakened to finish fifth last out against $25,000 non-winners of two in her first start off the claim by the Contessa barn. This gal has caught off tracks in each of her last three starts. Four back over a fast track here she made a mild late run to finish a decent third at this level. The cut back to seven panels should suit her and she may show more here catching a fast surface. Decent value if she goes off near her 8-1 morning line.
Claire's Kitty stalked the early pace and made a mild late bid to finish third last out going a mile in her second start off the bench. She adds blinkers here for her third starts since last summer at the Spa. She does not need to move forward much off her last outing to beat this group. Magner has picked up three wins from just 15 starters at the meeting. Like the jock switch here to Franco.
WIN: #4 to win at 5-1 or better.
EX: 1,4 / 1,3,4
TRI: no play
Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Aqueduct:
AQU Race 8 The Cicada (5:37 ET)
#6 Guacamole 5-1
#2 Stonesintheroad 2-1
#8 Miss Imperial 5-2
#3 Forgotten Hero 8-1
Analysis: Guacamole brushed the gate at the break, tracked the early pace and took over heading for home, drawing clear late in a sharp win versus Alw-1 optional claimers over a wet track. She was making her first start off a three month break for Pletcher. She showed some promise as a juvie, breaking her maiden in her debut and then running third in the Adirondack (G2) in her first go against winners. She has come back with a couple of good works and is going to get a good pace set up here as she should get a good tracking trip behind what looks like a fast early pace.
Stonesintheroad took the field gate to wire to win the state bred Franklin Square last out and is now perfect in three starts, winning by a combined 14 lengths. She owns a solid pace profile throughout with good early and mid pace numbers but she is going to get tested early. She looks tough but is going to be a light price.
WIN: #6 to win at 7-2 or better.
EX: 2,6 / 2,3,6,8
TRI: 2,6 / 2,3,6,8 / 1,2,3,6,8
Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Fair Grounds:
FG Race 13 The Louisiana Derby G2 (5:13 CT)
#10 Spinoff 8-1
#4 Sueno 8-1
#8 Country House 9-2
#6 War of Will 6-5
Analysis: Trainer Todd Pletcher usually has a barn full of Derby contenders at this time of year and this year it is rather sparse. Spinoff could jump up and give him a shot on the first Saturday of May. The colt showed some ability with a smart looking maiden win in his debut last June at Gulfstream Park. He then prompted the early pace and weakened to finish third in the Saratoga Special (G2) before hitting the bench. Is return was solid, a 11 ¾ length romp against Alw-1 optional claimers at Tampa Bay Downs. The runner up in that race as Cave Run, who had previously run third in the Pasco. The fifth-place finisher Mercusio had run second in the Inaugural. The colt has come back with a couple of good drills and this guy is quick. He earned solid early and mid pace numbers last out and there is not a ton of early speed signed up to go in here. Pletcher won this raced last year with Noble Indy who was making his fourth career start. It was Pletcher’s fourth win in this race. The colt should move forward second off the bench and appears to still have plenty of upside.
Sueno stalked the early pace and finished gamely in a runner up finish in the Southwest last out at Oaklawn Park. The third-place finisher in that race was Long Range Toddy, who returned last Saturday to win one of the divisions of the Rebel (G2). Two back Sueno stalked the early pace and finished up when while drifting in late to finish in the runner up in the Sham. The third-place finisher Much Better came out of the race to beat Alw-1 foes and then run fourth in the Gotham (G3). The winner Gunmetal Gray was second in the Robert B. Lewis (G3) and fourth in the Rebel. His speed figs have moved forward in each outing and it looks as if he should be able to handle the extra ground here.
Country House made his stakes debut in the Risen Star (G2) here and after getting off a beat slow and being outrun early he came with a good late run while lugging in, finishing 2 ¼ lengths behind the winner War of Will. The Bill Mott trainee certainly looks as if he can move forward off that effort with a better start. He has enough pedigree to handle nine furlongs. He is by Lookin At Lucky out of a War Chant mare that has dropped two other winners including stakes winner Mitchell Road ($154,570) who won the Albert M. Stall Memorial Stakes here on Feb. 16.
WIN: #10 to win at 5-1 or better.
EX: 4,10 / 4,6,8,10
TRI: 4,10 / 4,6,8,10 / 4,6,7,8,10
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 Blue Pigeon 15-1
R2: #4 Third Down Card 8-1
R6: #6 Fortune’s Boy 10-1
R8: #3 Forgotten Hero 8-1
R9: #2 Here Comes Helen 8-1
Good luck today!