The Road to the Kentucky Derby officially ends on Saturday with the final two points races of the year, then we have just three weeks until the Run for the Roses.
The $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) offers up 100-40-20-10 points toward entry into the Kentucky Derby. With no European or Japan based runner coming over to this years race, there will be 20 spots open, and Sainthood sits 20th on the Derby points standings with 40.
There are several above him that are questionable for the race, so a runner up finish in the Arkansas Derby likely would be enough to stamp a ticket to Louisville.
The $200,000 Lexington (G3) at Keeneland on Saturday will offer 20-8-4-2 points but does not appear likely to have an impact on the Derby field.
The Arkansas Derby drew a rather disappointing small field of six led by a pair from the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who won one division of the split race last year with Nadal.
He sends out the undefeated Concert Tour, who is coming off a victory in the Rebel (G2) over the Oaklawn Park main track. Horses exiting the Rebel have won six of the last 10 editions of the race.
Baffert also sends in Hozier, who ran second in the Rebel, beaten 4 ¼ lengths by his stablemate. The colt was making just his third career start and first in stakes company.
The race features three others exiting the Rebel—fourth place finisher Super Stock, fifth place finisher Caddo River (who was the 6-5 favorite) and seventh place finisher Get Her Number.
Completing the field is Southwest (G3) fifth place finisher Last Samurai.
The other stakes on Saturday’s card at Oaklawn Park are the $500,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) for older horses at six furlongs, the $400,000 Oaklawn Mile for older horses and the $250,000 Carousel for older fillies and mares at six furlongs.
The Count Fleet will feature a rematch between C Z Rocket and Whitmore who were separated by a neck in the Hot Springs in their last encounter on March 13.
I will have the action from Oaklawn Park 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 Thursday 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 and my Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby Day Reports.
Here is the second race (the opener features a 3-5 chalk) from Aqueduct to get the day off to a good start:
AQUEDUCT RACE 2 ANALYSIS (1:53 P.M. ET)
Race 2 Md $25,000
#9 Flower's Fortune 9-5
#8 Maria's Gift 3-1
#3 Bewps 6-1
#4 Full of Fire 10-1
Analysis: Flower's Fortune pressed the early pace and was no match for the gate to wire winner late in a runner up finishes the beaten favorite. The filly was better than 11 lengths clear of the rest of the field in the effort. It was her first go for a tag and she bounced back after getting badly outrun two and three back. She ran second in each of her first two career starts before trying stakes company. She drops another notch here in for a $25,000 tag. She has put in a couple of good works and is going to be tough in this spot.
Maria's Gift was the beaten chalk in her last two starts, both runner up finishes going a mile over the main track here. Last out she was able to set moderate fractions over a slow racing strip and could not hold off the winner, beaten 2 3/4 lengths. There is not much early pace in here and she should get a good trip on or sitting just off the pace with Morales picking up the call. The Handal trainee is out of the stakes winner My My My Maria ($181,734) who has dropped two other foals to race, both winners.
AQUEDUCT RACE 7 ANALYSIS (4:34 P.M. ET)
Race 7 Alw $82,000N1X
#1 Fetching 4-1
#9 Love and Thunder 9-5
#2 Magical Soul 10-1
#3 Rivendell 9-2
Analysis: Fetching makes her first start since making a good late rally to finish third at this level last November going six furlongs here, beaten 3/4 of a length for the top spot. The Kantarmaci barn claimed her for $40,000 last summer at the Spa where she was beaten a neck versus state bred Alw-2 optional claimers. She ran a game second in her first two starts for the barn at this condition. The trainer is 20% winners with runners coming back off a 61–180-day layoff. She fits well here and McCarthy sticks for a sharp barn that can win off the break.
Love and Thunder makes her U.S. debut here for the Brown barn. She broke her maiden at Newbury in her second career start then was sixth and eighth in a couple of Group 3 tries going 1 1/16 miles and a mile. She has been prepping at Palm Meadows for a barn that is 28% winners with runners coping back off a +180-day layoff. She adds lasix and is working as if she will be able to handle the cut back to six furlongs.
These are price plays for exotic players looking to find a couple of extra contenders to use in their Pick 4 or Pick 5 wagers. Or for those with smaller bankrolls, you might want to get in a small win wager.
R1: #3 Victory Built 8-1
R2: #4 Full of Fire 10-1
R4: #6 Start Devine 8-1
R7: #2 Magical Soul 10-1
R8: #2 My Girl Blue 10-1
Good luck today!