At the Gate – Friday

We are back in action at Aqueduct today for the first day of the short spring meeting, with the feature the $150,000 Distaff Handicap (G3), the eighth race on the nine-race card.

The Chad Brown trained Kathryn the Wise is the 5-2 morning line favorite. The mare ran huge in the slop last out to win the state bred La Verdad and earn a 103 Beyer Speed Figure.

I am looking for a bit more value in Dawn the Destroyer, who is coming off a third-place finish in the Barbara Fritchie (G3) at Laurel Park. The late running mare should get a sharp early pace and will be rolling late, at least I hope.

Coming up on Saturday we have a huge day with three Road to the Kentucky Derby points races including the $1 million Santa Anita Derby (G1).

The race drew a small field of six but is led by Game Winner, who was beaten a nose in the Rebel (G2) at Oaklawn Park in his three-year-old debut. The colt is the current betting favorite for the Kentucky Derby (G1) at +700.

The $750,000 Wood Memorial (G2) at Aqueduct is the highlight of an outstanding 11-race card that includes five stakes.

Tampa Bay Derby (G2) winner Tacitus is the 5-2 morning line favorite. Among his foes is Withers (G3) winner Tax and Gotham (G3) winner Haikal.

We will also make a trip out to Keeneland where a full field of 14 will line up in the $1 million Blue Grass (G2). The George Weaver trained Vekoma, who was third in the Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream Park last out is the 9-5 morning line favorite.

I will include all the key Derby preps along with the top stakes action in Saturday’s Best Plays Reports.

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

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 OClm $75,000SAL (1:30 ET)
#1 Americano 10-1
#2 Direct Order 9-5
#5 Family Biz 2-1
#3 Bye Bye Man 3-1

Analysis: Americano stretches out to a mile here for his first start off the claim by the Handal barn. Last out the gelding beat $35,000 claimers for the Rice barn. He graduated at a mile in the slop in a race taken off the turf last October. The Handal barn is 20% winners (with a +ROI) first off the claim. This guy owns solid early and mid pace numbers and with the rail draw and Carmouche figures to be on the lead. He certainly has enough pedigree to go long, by Tiznow out of a Saint Liam mare.

Direct Order tracked the early pace, came with a five wide bid and took over the in the stretch in a sharp win versus Alw-1 optional claimers going seven furlongs in the slop. He won at that condition four back as well and found stakes company a bit too tough two and three back. He is offered up here for $75,000 by Servis and while his one try at a mile did not pan out he is bed to get the distance. The barn is 29% winners moving runners form sprint to route.

WIN: #1 to win at 6-1 or better.
EX: 1,2 / 1,2,5
TRI: no play

Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Aqueduct:

AQU Race 8 The Distaff Hcp G3 (5:15 ET)
#9 Dawn the Destroyer 9-2
#7 Kathryn the Wise 5-2
#5 Come Dancing 3-1
#4 Startwithsilver 6-1

Analysis: Dawn the Destroyer saved ground and came up the rail with a good late rally to finish third in the Barbara Fritchie (G3) at Laurel Park. Two back over a wet track here she won the Interborough and her career top came three back here when beating Alw-2 optional claimers. The McLaughlin trainee should get an honest pace to track here. Looks like she should end up a fair price in this spot.

Kathryn the Wise took the field gate to wire to win the state bred La Verdad by 10 3/4 lengths in the slop, her fourth win in six starts. The six-year-old has managed just six career starts, making a pair of starts last year. She owns solid early and mid pace numbers and now returns off another break for the Brown barn that is 30% winners (with a +ROI) with runners coming back off a 61-180-day layoff.

WIN: #9 to win at 4-1 or better.
EX: 7,9 / 4,5,7,9
TRI: 7,9 / 4,5,7,9 / 1,4,5,7,9

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 Americano 10-1
R3: #7 Tayler’s the Boss 10-1
R4: #2 Aly’s Courage 20-1
R4: #6 Know Point Given 10-1
R6: #2 Herecomesyourman 8-1
R7: #6 Three to Thirteen 8-1
R7: #4 Analyze the Odds 15-1
R9: #9 Anne’s Song 12-1

Good luck today!