Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:55 AM

At the Gate - Sunday

It is closing day at both Del Mar and Churchill Downs, and with lousy weather in Louisville my Best Plays Report today includes races from Aqueduct and Del Mar.

The forecast does not look good for Aqueduct with rain falling overnight into this afternoon which figures to leave the track wet and likely off the grass.

The racing office anticipated the weather and there is only one race scheduled for the grass today, so it looks as if the card should stay intact and there hopefully will not be too many scratches.

The feature is the $200,000 Fall Highweight Handicap (G3) which was rescheduled after racing was canceled due to high winds on Thanksgiving Day.

There is a new addition to the lineup, the Linda Rice trained Nicodemus (4-1), but I stick with my original selection in Happy Farm from the Jason Servis barn. The gelding has won three in a row and gets a class test this afternoon.

Silver Prospector got the job done in yesterday’s feature as my top pick, the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs, the winner paying nicely at $17.80. The only problem was I did not use the runner up Finnick the Fierce, who went off at 88-1 and completed a $2 exacta that returned $737.60.

I also had Finite ($3.60) as my top pick in the Golden Rod (G2), and Si Que Es Buena ($4.60) in the Long Island (G3) and missed those exactas as well. We did mange to hit the Aqueduct Turf Sprint Championship with my top pick Fully Vested ($5.10) and the exacta for $23.20.

My Best Plays Report for Sunday includes my nine strongest plays from Aqueduct and Del Mar.

To purchase my Aqueduct and Best Plays Reports for Sunday click here .

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

Here is the opening race from Aqueduct to get the day off to a good start:

AQU Race 1 Md $20,000 (12:20 ET)
#2 Its a Ford 7-2
#6 Shannon's Girl 8-5
#8 Two Graces 5-1
#9 Funderella 9-2

Analysis: Its a Ford was outrun early and not much of a threat in her local debut last out in a sixth-place finish against state bred $5,000 foes. He was making his first start off the claim by the Atras barn. She is now back in open company but she was in the mix versus tougher than these in a couple of fourths at Churchill and Arlington and missed back in her debut by just a nose against maiden special weight foes at Belterra. She has a good off track pedigree and willing to give her another look here for a sharp barn.

Shannon's Girl makes her 12th career start here and has landed in the money in seven of her starts including five runner up finishes. Her lone start not on turf was in the slop back in May at Belmont Park where she was a well beaten sixth. She drops into an easier spot here for the Cox barn. She is out of an Arch mare that has dropped three winners. The barn is 25% winners moving runners from turf to dirt.

WIN: #2 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 2,6 / 2,6,8,9
TRI: 2,6 / 2,6,8,9 / 2,6,7,8,9

Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Aqueduct:

AQU Race 8 The Fall Highweight G3 (3:44 ET)
#4 Happy Farm 8-1
#7 Recruiting Ready 9-5
#3 Nicodemus 4-1
#2 Strike Power 8-1

Analysis: Happy Farm tracked the early pace and drew off smartly to beat Alw-2 optional claimers for his third win in a row. He beat $40,000 claimers two back and beat $25,000 starter allowance company three back. The gelding owns a solid pace profile throughout and gets a class test here but looks sharp enough to handle it and he is in good hands with the Servis barn. He is getting seven pounds from our second choice who figures to be the short priced favorite. Our top pick is bred to love a wet track and has run well in the off going with a win and two seconds in four trips.

Recruiting Ready wired the field to win the Bet On Sunshine last out at Churchill Downs, his sixth triple digit Beyer in his last dozen starts. He won the Gravesand over the main track here last December in gate to wire fashion. The five-year-old owns the edge in early and mid pace numbers and has beaten tougher than he faces here. The Hough trainee will be tough but is going to end up a short price. The Hough trainee has run well on wet tracks, landing in the money in five of six trips with a couple of wins.

Nicodemus is a newcomer to the race, the Rice trainee not entered in here for Thursday where the card got canceled. The colt makes his first start since July where he was fourth in the John A Nerud (G2) going seven furlongs at Belmont Park. Three back he won the one-mile Westchester in the slop. The barn is 21% winners with runners coming back off a 61-180-day layoff.

WIN: #4 to win at 5-1 or better.
EX: 4,7 / 2,3,4,7
TRI: 4,7 / 2,3,4,7 / 1,2,3,4,7

Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Del Mar:

DMR Race 5 The Hollywood Turf Cup G2 (2:00 PT)
#6 Cleopatra's Strike 7-2
#8 Itsinthepost 5-1
#10 United 5-2
#9 Overdue 5-1

Analysis: Cleopatra's Strike stalked the early pace and finished gamely to win the John Henry Turf (G2) last out at Santa Anita at 1 1/4 miles. The third-place finisher United came out of the race to nearly pull off the upset in the Breeders' Cup Turf (G1), missing by a head at 51-1. The gelding has turned the corner since landing in the D'Amato barn, earning his two top career speed figs. He is not proven at 1 1/2 miles but has the pedigree, by Smart Strike out of a Sky Classic mare. He looks primed for a top effort off a two-month break and in just his fourth start of the year.

Itsinthepost tracked the early pace and took over the lead heading for home, holding on to win the Marathon (G2) at 1 3/4 mils on the main track on Nov. 1 on the Breeders' Cup Day undercard. That was his first win on dirt, his previous 10 victories coming on turf and he has won 3 of 5 at today's distance. He switches back to turf and looks for his first win on grass since winning the Charlie Whittingham (G2) last May. One knock is his 0 for 12 record over the turf here. He has run well on turf with some give to it.

WIN: #6 to win at 3-1 or better.
EX: 6,8 / 6,8,9,10
TRI: 6,8 / 6,8,9,10 / 6,7,8,9,10

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.

R3: #5 Flash Drive 10-1
R5: #8 Latin Love Bug 8-1
R6: #4 Mani Pedi 8-1
R6: #1 Bank Sting 8-1
R7: #7 Calculated isker 8-1
R8: #4 Happy Farm 8-1
R8: #2 Strike Power 8-1

Good luck today!

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