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Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 13:51 PM

Saturday's Picks from Aqueduct and Gulfstream Park

The champion two-year-old of 2020 makes his much anticipated three-year-old debut this afternoon in the $750,000 Southwest (G3) and it appears he may find himself chasing a loose on the lead leader.

Essential Quality makes his first start since winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) last November at Keeneland, capping off his championship season as top two-year-old. The Southwest was postponed twice due to winter storms and now there is some rain in the forecast.

His major obstacle is going to be Jackie’s Warrior, who also makes his first start since the Juvenile where he checked in fourth as the beaten 4-5 favorite.

Today however it sure looks as if Jackie’s Warrior is the lone speed and may get a substantial jump on the champ. The Steve Asmussen trainee will have jockey Joel Rosario aboard and if he breaks well he could be tough to run down.

The race is a Road to the Kentucky Derby points race with 10-4-2-1 points up for grabs.

There are 50-20-10-5 Derby points up for grabs in the $300,000 Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream Park. The race drew a field of 10 led by the Shug McGaughey trained Greatest Honour, the 9-5 morning line favorite.

The colt made his stakes debut in the Holy Bull (G3) on Jan. 30 and was my top pick. He returned $7.60, drawing clear to win by 5 ¾ lengths, making him one of the top early betting favorites for the Run for the Roses.

Despite a short price he ended up my to pick again as I think he still has a ton of upside. His main foes are going to be Swale (G3) winner Drain the Clock and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) winner Fire At Will.

The Gulfstream Park card offers up 14 races today including nine stakes, six of which made it into my Best Plays Report.

“America’s Day at the Races” will be televised on FS2 from 2:00 to 7:00 ET covering the action from Aqueduct and Oaklawn Park. 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.

My Best Plays Report for Saturday includes my 11 strongest plays from Aqueduct and Gulfstream Park and the Southwest from Oaklawn Park.

To purchase my Aqueduct and Best Plays Reports for Saturday 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 opener from Aqueduct to get the day off to a good start:


Race 1 Clm $16,000N2L

  • #4 Choose Happiness 8-5
  • #6 Gringotts 3-1
  • #1 Happycrest / 1a Make Or Break 9-5
  • #2 Imprsstheprofessor 5-1

Analysis: Choose Happiness gets the call in the opener dropping back in for a $16,000 tag for her second start off the claim by the Sciacca barn. She was taken for this tag two back out of a fourth-place finish and last out tracked the early pace and finished evenly in a third-place finish against $25,000 non-winners of two. Three back over a wet track she was beaten just a neck in a runner up finish. There is not much pace in here and she looks capable of being closer here if Cancel is aggressive and it seems likely he will be.

Gringotts stalked the early pace and came with a good late rally to finish in the runner up spot last out here over a wet track, beaten 3/4 of a length while 3 1/2 clear of the rest of the field. She has come up short at this condition seven times since breaking her maiden at the Spa last summer. She owns the top last out speed fig and this looks about as soft a spot as she has seen. The barn is having a tough meet but this gal fits well in this spot.


 Race 11 The Honey Fox G3

  • #6 Zofelle 7-2
  • #4 Ricetta 5-1
  • #2 Got Stormy 7-5
  • #7 Feel Glorious 9-2

Analysis: Zofelle came off a seven-month layoff last out with a smart looking win in the Marshua River (G3) here at a mile. It was her first start since a fifth in the Just a Game (G1) last June at Belmont Park. Her win last out was her first since taking the Pago Hop at Fir Grounds in Dec. of '19, but she made just four starts last year, her best effort a close up third in the Mine Julep (G3) at Churchill Downs where she was beaten just a head and a neck. Walsh is 21% winners with runners making their second start off a +180-day layoff.

Ricetta is making her first start since last August where she made her U.S. debut in the Saratoga Oaks. She was sent off at 4-1 in a field of seven. She trailed early and was not much of a threat in a sixth-place finish. Sher started off her career overseas, winning her first two starts, then checking in third in that Muisdora Stakes (G3) at York. She has been working quickly in the mornings for her return off the shelf and may be ready to go off the sidelines. Mott hits at a 12% clip with runners coming back off a +180-day layoff.


 Race 10 The Southwest G3

  • #4 Jackie's Warrior 8-5
  • #1 Essential Quality 3-2
  • #7 Spielberg 9-2
  • #5 Santa Cruiser 12-1

Analysis: Jackie's Warrior was my reluctant top pick in last fall's Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1), and he was sent off at 4-5. The colt prompted the early pace, got to the lead and could not finish, weakening to finish fourth. Two back out of that race to win next out—third place finisher Keepmeinmind won the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) and fifth place finisher Rombauer won the El Camino Real Derby. He went into that race undefeated with wins in the Hopeful (G1) and Champagne (G1). He owns a big edge in early and mid pace numbers and speed fares well here at this distance. The Asmussen barn is 19% winners with runners coming back off a 61–180-day layoff. It just looks as if he is going to shake loose early and will be tough to run down.

Essential Quality is probably the better of the top pair but tactically this race does not exactly line up for him. He made a good late rally to win the Juvenile last out to cap off a championship season. He broke his maiden in his debut and then won the Breeders' Futurity (G1) at Keeneland in his first start going two turns. He has been working well at Fir Grounds for his much anticipated three-year-old debut. Saez is going to need to keep this guy close to our top pick to have any chance of running him down late. The pair do seem to be a cut above the rest of the field.


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. 


  • R2: #8 Absolute Privilege 15-1
  • R3: #5 Alwaysmining 8-1
  • R8: #10 Tale of Mist 8-1
  • R9: #9 Know It All Red 15-1

Good luck today!

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