Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:55 AM

At the Gate - Saturday

We have an outstanding 10-race card at Aqueduct this afternoon which features six stakes races led by the $750,000 Cigar Mile (G1).
My plan for my Best Plays Report was to include Los Alamitos, which has two graded stakes for juveniles, the $300,000 Starlet (G1) and the $200,000 Los Alamitos Futurity (G2). However, the races drew fields of four and five, so I just have to pass.
Instead we will head off to Gulfstream Park where the Claiming Crown has brought together most of the top of the hard working blue collar set. I have five of the races in today’s Best Plays Report, one below.
The Cigar Mile drew a  solid field of 11 led by Maximum Security, who has won five of his seven starts this year, one of those losses coming when he crossed the wire in the Kentucky Derby (G1) but was disqualified for interference in the stretch and placed 17th.
A win in the Cigar Mile would be his third Grade 1 win of the year and that might be good enough for him to win the Eclipse Award for top three-year-old.
The colt is likely not going to offer much value for the top spot so as you can see below I went with Whitmore, who stretches out to a mile off a good third in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) in his last outing.
My Best Plays Report for Saturday includes my 10 strongest plays from Aqueduct and Gulfstream Park.
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Here is the opening race from Aqueduct to get the day off to a good start:
AQU Race 1 Md Sp Wt (11:30 ET)
#1 First Degree   8-1
#9 Cost Basis   8-5
#10 Croi Mor   10-1
#8 Onward   5-1
Analysis: First Degree tracked the early pace while saving ground and finished evenly in a third-place finish at Laurel Park in his debut, sent off at just under 6-1 in a field of nine. He returns off a two-month break here for the Thomas barn that is 29% winners with second out maidens. This guy was a $300,000 Keeneland purchase, by Bernardini out of a Seeking the Gold mare that has dropped three other foals to race with a pair of winners. He is bred to go long and figures to move forward for a sharp barn with Castellano picking up the call.
Cost Basis was seventh in his debut back in August going 6 1/2 furlongs at the Spa and put in a much improved effort last out on the stretch out to a mile. He headed for home with the lead but got run down and had to settle for the runner up spot. The Brown trainee is out of an Orientate mare that has dropped two other foals to race, no winners to date. He owns the top last out speed fig and is the obvious one to beat in this spot.
WIN: #1 to win at 8-1 or better.
EX: 1,9 / 1,8,9,10
TRI: 1,9 / 1,8,9,10 / 1,6,8,9,10
Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Aqueduct:
AQU Race 10 The Cigar Mile Hcp G1 (4:16 ET)
#1 Whitmore   8-1
#5 Maximum Security   3-2
#6 Spun to Run   5-2
#7 Nicodemus   20-1
Analysis: Whitmore will go a route of ground for the first time since running 19th in the 2016 Kentucky Derby (G1). Last out in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) the gelding was off a beat slow, was next to last early and came with a good late rally to finish third, beaten 3 ½ lengths. Two back off a four month break he made a good late run to finish in the runner up spot in the Phoenix (G2) at Keeneland. He has won just once this year, taking the Hot Springs at Oaklawn Park in March but has earned triple digit Beyers in seven of his last 11 starts and the question mark is the distance and perhaps the rail draw. We are going to have a sharp early pace and this guy is quick enough to be up close early, but I am hoping the jock can work out a trip from mid pack. His win over the main track here was at 6 ½ furlongs against Alw-2 optional claimers back in Dec. of ’16. He looks primed for a top effort tin his third start of his current form cycle and he has the pedigree to go long. Worth a look if he goes off near his 8-1 morning line.
Maximum Security may have the Eclipse Award for top three-year-old in his pocket with a win here. The colt came back from a bout with colic to win the Bold Ruler ‘Cap (G3) last out in gate to wire fashion at seven furlongs. His Haskell Invitational (G1) two back was impressive as well over Mucho Gusto and the rapidly improving Spun to Run. This colt could be undefeated in his career with a better outcome in the Kentucky Derby (G1) where he got DQ’d and the Pegasus where he got off to a slow start and got run down late as the chalk. There is plenty of early speed signed up and if Saez gets mixed up in a fast early duel he could be vulnerable at a light price.
Spun to Run won the Ballezzi Appreciation Mile at Philly in October earning a 110 Beyer Speed Figure, 13 points higher than his previous best. He proved that outing was no fluke by pulling off the upset in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) last out at 9-1, nearly matching his career top. He took the field gate to wire and that could be tough to do in this spot. He got clear in the stretch in the Dirt Mile and then drifted around inside the final furlong. Not sure this guy is going to offer much value for the top spot.
WIN: #1 to win at 5-1 or better.
EX: 1,5 / 1,5,6,7
TRI: 1,5 / 1,5,6,7 / 1,2,5,6,7
Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Gulfstream Park:
GP Race 10 The Claiming Crown Jewel (4:28 ET)
#3 Forest Fire   7-2
#8 Degrom   8-1
#9 Noble Thought   9-2
#5 Leitone   2-1
Analysis: Forest Fire is one of three in here sent out by a Servis. John will saddle this guy, who is coming off a victory in the Maryland Million Classic at Laurel Park going nine furlongs, his first trip at the distance. He has won three in a row and 7 of 13 lifetime. His last was his first stakes win and he was a good second in the Private Terms last March. He owns a solid pace profile throughout and looks like a good fit in this spot.
Degrom also raced at Laurel Park last out, a runner up finish against Alw02 optional claimers. The winner Jefazo and the fourth-place finisher came back to beat optional claimers in their next starts. This guy was claimed for $20,000 back in July and beat Alw-1 foes in his first go for the new barn. He looks headed in the right direction and should be a decent price.
WIN: #3 to win at 3-1 or better.
EX: 3,8 / 3,5,8,9
TRI: 3,8 / 3,5,8,9 / 2,3,5,8,9
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.
R1: #10 Croi Mor   10-1
R3: #3 Lucky Ramsey   8-1
R4: #2 Boos   10-1
R4: #7 Juulstone   8-1
R7: #1 King Khozan   8-1
R7: #8 Villainous   15-1
R8: #6 Critical Value   8-1
R9: #6 Shotski   15-1
R10: #1 Whitmore   8-1
R10: #7 Nicodemus   20-1
Good luck today!

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