Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:55 AM

At the Gate - Saturday

After an unusual dark Thursday and Friday, we are back in action at Aqueduct today and we have a Road to the Kentucky Derby points race at Santa Anita this afternoon.

The $100,000 Sham (G3) is worth 10 Derby points to the winner and the race lost the likely favorite Honor A.P. who was not entered after not coming back 100% after a workout on Tuesday.

A field of six will head to the gate led by the Bob Baffert trained duo of Authentic (8-5) and Azul Coast (5-2). It is tough to split the pair and I landed on the latter who likely will be a slightly better price. Baffert has won the Sham a record five times.

The co-feature at Santa Anita is the $200,000 San Gabriel (G2) at nine furlongs on turf, drawing a field of seven led by John Henry Turf Cup (G2) winner Cleopatra’s Strike.

The feature at the Big A today is the $100,000 La Verdad, a seven-furlong sprint on the main track for fillies and mares. Pauseforthecause is the 3-5 morning line favorite but I think we have a shot of beating her for the top spot with Kept True.

My Best Plays Report for Saturday includes my eight strongest plays from Aqueduct and Santa Anita.

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

AQU Race 1 Md $25,000 (12:30 ET)
#5 Surprise Visit 9-2
#3 Shandian 3-1
#6 Galway Empire 4-1
#8 Aleph 8-1

Analysis: Surprise Visit was badly outrun in his debut her effort a $40,000 tag an took a little action, sent off at 6-1 in a field of 11. He comes back with blinkers added and drops in for a $25,000 tag for the RRod barn that is 18% winners with second out maidens. He catches a pretty weak looking group here. He is out of a stakes placed More Than Ready mare that has dropped three other foals to race, all winners including stakes winner Eskenformore ($153,880). This guy has a solid off track pedigree and we may see some rain today.

Shandian tracked the early pace and weakened in the stretch to finish fourth last out for a $40,000 tag. The colt has now come up short 10 times with one second and a couple of thirds. There is not much early speed signed up to go here and this colt should be right tin the mix early. He did not run well in the slop two back but this is a bot the softest spot he has found to date. He is out of the stakes winner Asian Adventure ($153,729) who has dropped six winners.

WIN: #5 to win at 7-2 or better.
EX: 3,5 / 3,5,6,8
TRI: 3,5 / 3,5,6,8 / 2,3,5,6,8

Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Aqueduct:

AQU Race 8 The La Verdad (3:55 ET)
#3 Kept True 4-1
#2 Pauseforthecause 3-5
#5 Cash Offer 5-1
#4 Indy's Lady 12-1

Analysis: Kept True prompted the early pace and finished gamely to beat state bred non-conditioned allowance company last out going six furlongs over the main track here. It was her fourth win in eight career starts. She has not been seven furlongs or traveled over a wet track. She does look as if she can get a good tracking trip sitting just off the pace and has the best shot of beating the chalk in here. She does have a solid off track pedigree if the rains come, by Yes It's True out of a Henny Hughes mare.

Pauseforthecause took the field gate to wire to win the garland of Roses last out at six furlongs here for her third win in a row and has earned back to back career tops. She wired the field two back to win the state bred Iroquois at 6 1/2 furlongs. She has landed in the money in all eight of her trips over the Big A main track and was third in this race last year at 9-5. She will be an even lower price here and is 0 for 2 at seven furlongs and 0 for 3 on wet tracks. She owns solid early and mid pace numbers but speed really did not fare two well over the last 10 days here.

Cash Offer tracked the early pace and came with a good late rally to beat state bred Alw-2 optional claimers last out in a race washed off the turf. Two back at the same level she ran second to repeat winner Hay Field, who came back to beat state bred Alw-2 foes again in her next start here on Dec. 15. She appears to be the biggest early pace threat to the chalk in here but Lezcano did take her back last out and may do the same thing here. The jock has been on quite a roll at the meeting, hitting at a 30% clip.

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

Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Santa Anita:

SA Race 5 The Sham G3 (1:32 PT)
#4 Azul Coast 5-2
#1 Authentic 8-5
#6 Taishan 5-2
#2 Zimba Warrior 6-1

Analysis: Azul Coast hopefully will be the higher price of the Baffert duo. The colt made a good last to first rally and drew away to break his maiden in his debut at Los Al over a wet track going a mile. He should get a solid early pace to run at in this spot. The colt was a $320,000 Keeneland purchase, by Super Saver out of the stakes winner Sky Treasure ($492,426). Baffert has won this race a record five times.

Authentic earned the top last out speed fig in a smart looking maiden win at Del mar going 5 1/2 furlongs as the heavy favorite. He beat five foes and they all have come back to run and the best finish in their next starts was a third by the runner up a and third place finisher in his last outing. He was a $350,000 purchase, out of a Mr. Greeley mare that has dropped two other foals to race, both winners. The barn is 24% winners moving runners from sprint to route. There are a couple of foes in here that look capable of mixing it up early with this guy.

WIN: #4 to win at 2-1 or better.
EX: 1,4 / 1,4,6
TRI: no play

R1: #8 Aleph 8-1
R3: #4 Boom Boom Kaboom 10-1
R5: #6 Brimstone 10-1
R6: #1 Him She Kisses / 1a Stone Guitar 8-1
R8: #4 Indy’s Lady 12-1
R9: #10 Itsakeyper 20-1

Good luck today!

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