Friday’s Picks from Aqueduct and Turfway

We got pretty lucky in yesterday’s featured race of the day at Aqueduct as Steam Engine crossed the wire first but was disqualified and placed fourth.

His jockey Jorge Vargas Jr. seemed content on interfering with the entire field and paid the price. Meanwhile my second choice South Africa was elevated up for the win and returned $7.50 while my top pick Double Shot was placed second with the $2 exacta coming back at $55.50.

We are back at it on Friday at Aqueduct and below you will see I handicapped tonight’s John Battaglia Memorial from Turfway Park. The race is a Road to the Kentucky Derby points race.

The race likely will not have an impact on the Triple Crown this year, but it did draw a competitive race and worth an evening wager or two.

Coming up tomorrow we have a pair of Derby points races—the $750,000 Southwest (G3) at Oaklawn Park and the $300,000 Fountain of Youth (G2) will be decided at Gulfstream Park.

The Southwest drew a field of seven led by Essential Quality (3-2), who makes his three-year-old debut for trainer Brad Cox. The colt was perfect last year in his three starts including winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1).

The Fountain of Youth drew a field of 10 and is the last race of 14 on the Gulfstream Park card that includes nine stakes races.

Holy Bull (G3) winner Greatest Honour is the 9-5 morning line favorite for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey.

Four he beat in the Holy Bull return. In addition, the field includes Swale (G3) winner Drain the Clock (5-1) and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) winner Fire At Will (7-2).

There are nine stakes on Saturday at Gulfstream Park, and I will have selections and analysis for most of them in Saturday’s Best Plays Report.

You can stream the action from Aqueduct today on YouTube or by using the TVG App. The horse betting company based in the U.S. is offering a 50% deposit match up to $250 .  In addition, AmWager is offering up to a $500 bonus for new horseplayers.

To purchase my Aqueduct Report for Friday 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 which include the major Kentucky Derby preps.

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


Race 1 Md $40,000

  • #6 Flower's Fortune 2-1
  • #4 The Glenmore 9-5
  • #5 Hot Dame 8-1
  • #2 Bewps 5-2

Analysis: Flower's Fortune drops in for a tag for the first time here in her fifth career start and catches a really weak group. She showed some ability in her first two starts, a runner up in the slop in her debut going six furlongs and then she ran second at a mile here. She then tried a NY Stallion Series race where she faded to finish a well beaten ninth and faded badly last out when back in with maidens. The Englehart trainee catches an easy group here on the class drop and looking for her to bounce back with a much better effort here. The barn is 25% winners (with a +ROI) dropping runners from maiden special to maiden claiming.

The Glenmore was sent off at just under 9-1 when she made her debut here on Jan. 30. She tracked the early pace while saving ground and weakened to finish fifth. She returns with blinkers added for the RRod barn that is 19% winners with second out maidens. She has enough pedigree to handle the stretch out to a one turn mile. She is by Distorted Humor out of a Holy Bull mare that has dropped five other runners with four winners. She figures to be on or near the lead here and should show more with a race under her belt.


 Race 7 Alw $72,000N1X

  • #8 Mabel Island 2-1
  • #7 New York Rock Star 8-1
  • #4 English Breeze 8-1
  • #6 Bank Sting 6-1

Analysis: Mabel Island stretches out to a mile here for her second trip locally. Last out in her first start against state breds she set the early fractions, got clear heading for home and got run down late, settling for the runner up spot while beaten a half-length. She trounced $25,000 starter allowances two back at Philly going two turns and did the same four back going a mile. The pace should be more moderate here and this gal should be able to stretch her speed out to a one turn mile.

New York Rock Star tracked the early pace and weakened in the stretch to finish fourth last out over a wet track against $50,000 starter allowance company. Two back at this level she made a mild late run to finish fourth going six furlongs over a racing strip that was kind to inside speed that day. The Ness trainee is back with state breds here and willing to give this gal another look here. She has landed in the money in 9 of her 12 career starts and McCarthy sticks for Ness who is 0 for 6 at the meet.


 Race 5 The John Battaglia Memorial

  • #6 Pico d’Oro 8-1
  • #1 Gretzky the Great 3-1
  • #4 Like the King 7-2
  • #3 Twirling Mamba 10-1

Analysis: Pico d’Oro is back on the fake stuff after a good effort in the seven furlong Jimmy Winkfield at Aqueduct last out. The colt tracked thee early pace while four wide on a day the outer paths were good and battled on gamely in a close up third, beaten a half-length as the beaten chalk. Two back over the main track here at six furlongs the colt prompted the early pace and drew clear late to beat Alw-1 optional claimers in his lone start on the Tapeta. He is a stakes winner on dirt, taking the Juvenile at Ellis Park last August going seven furlongs in his third career start. The $255,000 Ocala purchase has plenty of pedigree to handle the distance, by Curlin out of a Bernardini mare, her first foal to race. The barn is 35% winners (with a +ROI) moving runners from sprint to route. The 8-1 morning line looks more than fair on this guy.

Gretzky the Great makes his three-year-old debut here for the Mark Casse barn. The colt made his last start in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) where he was sent off at 7-1. Breaking from a tough post he prompted the early pace and weakened to finish sixth. He won the Summer (G1) on turf at Woodbine two back. His lone start on Tapeta came in his maiden breaker at Woodbine in his second career start going six furlongs in a race washed off the grass. He took the field gate to wire and drew clear to win by 4 ¼ lengths. The colt has prepped in Florida at Payson Park for5 a trainer that is 13% winners with runners coming back off a 61-180-day layoff. The colt looks like a logical threat here, but his price is going to be on the light side.

Like the King made his first start over the Tapeta surface last out a winning one, taking Alw-1 optional claimer gate to wire and earning a career top speed fig. The colt was able to set soft fractions against a suspect group. Three have come out of that race to run back and they have finished third, fifth and seventh. He worked several times over the main track here since his last outing and then shows a couple of drills over at Keeneland for his return off a 2 ½ month break. The colt is going to part of a faster pace early here but looks as if he still may have some upside. Ward won this race last year with Invader who was coming off a maiden win.


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: #5 Hot Dame 8-1
  • R4: #6 Dublinornothin 8-1
  • R7: #4 English Breeze 8-1
  • R7: #7 New York Rock Star 8-1

Good luck today!