Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:56 AM

At the Gate - Saturday

It has been crazy cold down here in Florida, but the weather has been holding up nicely in New York, and here it is the middle of November and we have six races carded for the turf at Aqueduct this afternoon.
 
Three of the first five races making up the early Pick 5 are on turf, and they all drew large and competitive fields. That is in stark contrast to the opener where a $10,000 claimer on the main track going a mile drew just six with a 3-5 morning line favorite in Haul Anchor.
 
The feature is the $100,000 Key Cents which is a six-furlong test on the main track for two-year-old fillies. The race drew a field of seven. I am giving the edge to My Sassy Sarah (3-1), who will be making her first career start on dirt after three trips on turf to start her career.
 
The feature at Churchill Downs today is the $175,000 River City Handicap (G3) at nine furlongs on turf that drew a field of 10.
 
Cullum Road gets the call at decent odds of 10-1. The Mike Maker trainee had a troubled trip in a fifth-place finish against third level allowance foes in his last outing at Keeneland over good turf.
 
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My Best Plays Report for Saturday includes my eight strongest plays from Aqueduct and Churchill Downs.
 
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Here is the opening race from Aqueduct to get the day off to a good start:
 
AQU Race 1 Clm $10,000 (12:00 ET)
#1 Real Dan   4-1
#4 Haul Anchor   3-5
#2 So Sublime 5-1
#3 Too Fast to Pass 15-1
 
Analysis: Real Dan stalked the early pace and did not have enough punch left late in a fourth-place finish last out against state bred allowance foes at Finger Lakes. He cuts back to one turn and lands with the Gullo barn that is 20% winners (with a +ROI) with newcomers to the barn. This guy was trained by Pletcher earlier this year and he beat state bred Alw-1 foes back in March off the bench. He drops in for a $10,000 tag and is perfect in his two starts here. He has the best shot of knocking off the chalk.
 
Haul Anchor returns off a 4 1/2-month break here for the RRod barn. The trainer claimed his guy for $25,000 last September and he started running big including a pair of triple digit Beyers. He then tailed off in a big way in his last two starts, beaten 40 lengths last out at Monmouth Park. The drop in here for a $10,000 tag is not encouraging but he catches a compact field lacking in much talent.
 
Wagering
WIN: #1 to win at 3-1 or better.
EX: 1,4 / 1,2,4
TRI: no play
 
Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Aqueduct:
 
AQU Race 8 The Key Cents (3:20 ET)
#4 My Sassy Sarah   3-1
#3 Time Limit   2-1
#2 Playtone   5-2
#7 Big Q   8-1
 
Analysis: My Sassy Sarah makes her first start on dirt after three trips on turf. She was an impressive maiden winner two back in her second career start, drawing off to win by 4 ¼ lengths going six furlongs at Belmont Park. She came back in the Miss Grillo (G3) stretching out to a route where she stalked the early pace, made a good middle move to get into the mix and then weakened in the stretch to finish sixth, beaten three lengths. She is by Summer Front out of a Street Cry mare that has dropped three other winners, none of which have won on conventional dirt. The Nevin barn is 17% winners moving runners from turf to dirt. Rosario picks up the call and the cut back to a sprint should suit her. Looks as if she is going to get an honest pace to run at in this spot.
 
Time Limit set the early fractions, had a clear lead heading for home and got run down in the Matron (G3) on turf going six furlongs, settling for the runner up spot. She broke her maiden on the main track at Belmont Park in her debut and in her third career start was beaten just a neck in the state bred Seek the Ante at 6 ½ furlongs at the Spa. She set the early fractions and weakened to finish fourth in the state bred Joe A. Gimma two back. Her last out speed fig is tops in here and she owns solid early and mid pace numbers. By Bustin Stones out of a Freud mare, she seems better suited for the main track.
 
Playtone dueled for the early lead and drew clear to a smart looking maiden win at Belmont Park by six lengths in her third career start and second for trainer George Weaver. She had run second in each of her first two career outings. The $150,000 purchase is by Tonalist out of a stakes placed Songandaprayer mare, her first foal to race. She owns solid early and mid pace numbers but looks as if she is going to get a good tracking trip sitting just off the pace.
 
Wagering
WIN: #4 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 3,4 / 2,3,4,7
TRI: 3,4 / 2,3,4,7 / 2,3,4,6,7
 
Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Churchill Downs:
 
CD Race 10 The River City Hcp G3 (5:36 PT)
#1 Cullum Road   10-1
#9 Admission Office   3-1
#4 Mr. Understood   5-2
#8 Get Western   5-1
 
Analysis: Cullum Road raced near the back of the pack early, came with a five-wide run, had to steady at the 1/8 pole and came back to finish up well for fifth beaten three lengths against Alw-3 foes at Keeneland. Two back this guy made a good late rally to finish a close up third in the Baltimore Washington Turf Cup (G3) at Laurel park, beaten just a half-length. The top pair came back to run second and third in the Artie Schiller next out at Aqueduct. A clean trip and this guy should over forward off his last effort and the 10-1 morning line looks more than fair.
 
Admission Office makes his second start off a 3 1/2-month break and drops into an easier spot. Last out in the Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) he was outrun early and was not much of a threat in an 11th place finish. Two back over the turf here he made a good late rally to finish third in the Wise Dan (G2). The Lynch trainee should be fitter second off the short break and he fits well here if he gets a better trip.
 
Wagering
WIN: #1 to win at 6-1 or better.
EX: 1,9 / 1,4,8,9
TRI: 1,9 / 1,4,8,9 / 1,4,6,8,9
 
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.
 
Aqueduct
R1: #3 Too Fast to Pass   15-1
R2: #4 Neuro   20-1
R3: #2 Mobridge   10-1
R7: #9 Quietude   8-1
R8: #7 Big Q   8-1
 
Good luck today!

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