Last Updated Sep 04, 2021, 11:00 PM

Sunday's Picks from Aqueduct and Kentucky Downs

Max Player showed that his perfect trip win in the Suburban (G2) was no fluke by getting a nearly identical trip in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) at Saratoga on Saturday.

The Steve Asmussen trainee was sent off as the third choice in the field of six, sat a perfect trip just off the pace set by the favorite Forza Di Oro and got past him midstretch and drew off to win by four lengths.

The colt likely will go straight to the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) where he is going to end up one of the betting favorites.

In my boredom when the pandemic first hit last year, I purchased some shares in Sport BLX Thoroughbreds, the winner of Max Player. After losing six races in a row I had pretty much forgot about the investment.

Now he has picked up paychecks of $225,000 and $535,000 in his last two starts and has a fees expenses paid trip to the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).

Things suddenly got pretty interesting.

I actually picked Happy Saver on top with Max Player second and the $2 exacta box came back at a solid $30.40 as Forza Di Oro was just overbet at 6-5.

We are down to just two days left of the Saratoga meeting but we also have opening day at Kentucky Downs this afternoon. The track only runs six dates but the purses are incredible and just about every top jockey and trainer will converge at the Franklin, Kentucky track over the next week.

It is all turf racing, and as long as the weather holds up, we will have some outstanding races to wager on.

My Best Plays Report for Sunday includes my 10 strongest plays from Kentucky Downs and Saratoga.

“Saratoga Live” is on FS2 (and streaming on YouTube) from 12:30 to 6:30 ET. Looking to play the ponies? TVG is offering new players  up to a $300 Risk Free wager.  In addition, AmWager is offering up to a $500 bonus for new horseplayers.

To purchase my Saratoga and Best Plays Reports for Sunday click here .

Here is the opener from Saratoga to get the day off to a good start:


  Race 1 Md Sp Wt

  • #7 Hope Over Fear 4-1
  • #6 Speedometer 7-2
  • #8 Alsanah 9-2
  • #9 S Oh S 15-1

Analysis: Hope Over Fear goes turf to dirt and route to sprint here for the Mott barn. In her debut she carved out the early fractions and weakened late to finish fourth, beaten four lengths for the top spot at 7-1 in a field of seven. Pedigree wise she seems more suited to the main track. She is by Cupid out of a City Zip mare that has dropped one winner. The barn is 17% winners with second out maidens. Seven furlongs should suit this gal.

Speedometer also goes turf to dirt. She was third in her first two starts on dirt and faded to finish eighth last out trying 5 1/2 on turf. The blinkers come off here for Asmussen who is 21% winners moving runners from turf to dirt. She is out of the stakes winner Speedinthruthecity ($402,751) who has dropped two other foals to race, both winners including stakes winner Nitrous ($563,832). She figures to bounce back with a better effort here on the surface switch.


Race 9 Alw $50,000s (5:01 ET)

  • #1 Command Point 4-1
  • #4 Hohohoho 10-1
  • #7 Kemba 6-1
  • #9 Mopolka 8-1

Analysis: Command Point invades from Arlington Park and lands with the Weaver barn that is 36% winners (with a +ROI) with newcomers to the barn. The trainer is having a tough meet having won with just 2 of 41 starters with 10 seconds. This filly stalked the early pace and made a good late rally to finish third last out against Alw-1 optional claimers over a mile on good ground at Arlington Park last out. The fifth and seventh place finishers came out of that race to win next out while the winner Elke Do Jaguarete was a good second against Alw-2 optional claimers in her next start. She makes her third start off the bench here and looks to be heading in the right direction form wise. This looks like a good spot and Irad is up for an overdue barn.

Hohohoho prompted the early pace and packed it in last out in a well beaten 11th place finish at this level. Two back this gal set the early fractions, got clear heading for home before weakening to finish third. She crossed the wire a neck in front three back for a $50,000 tag but was DQ'd for interference. She draws a better spot today and picks up Castellano who is not having the greatest of meets winning at just a 10% clip. This gal is better than she showed last out and is in good hands with the underrated Morley barn. She seems likely to bounce back with a better effort and her 10-1 morning line looks fair enough to give her a look here.


Race 9 The Dueling Grounds Oaks

  • #6 Adventuring 3-1
  • #4 Line Dancing 10-1
  • #8 Core Values 4-1
  • #3 Inthewinnerscircle 9-2

Analysis: Adventuring stalked the early pace and finished gamely in a third-place finish last out in the Preview at Ellis Park, beaten a half-length. The winner Flippant came back to win the Virginia Oaks in her next outing at Colonial Downs on Aug. 31. She has just two starts on turf, winning the Bourbonette Oaks on Tapeta back in March. She looks as if she is going to have no trouble handling the exacta ground. She is by Pioneerof the Nile out of a Hard Spun mare. She picks up Rosario and looks as if she is sitting on a good one here.

Line Dancing exits the Virginia Oaks where she raced near the back of the pack early and finished evenly in a fifth-place finish at 1 1/8 miles. She was competitive in stakes company earlier this year with a fourth in the Sanibel Island and a third in the Edgewood (G2). She makes her second start off a two month break here for Matz and gets a jock upgrade to Gaffalione. Worth tossing in the mix if she goes off near her 10-1 morning line.


These are price plays for exotic players looking to find a couple of extra contenders to use in their Pick 4 and Pick 5 wagers. Or for those with smaller bankrolls, you might want to get in a small win wager. 


  • R1: #9 S Oh S 15-1
  • R3: #10 Closertotheheart 8-1
  • R3: #8 Checksandbalances 8-1
  • R4: #4 Off We Go 8-1
  • R5: #9 Thismightbetheone 8-1
  • R6: #12 Public Information 10-1
  • R6: #5 Actuary 8-1
  • R8: #4 Texian 8-1
  • R8: 32 Malibu Kendall 8-1
  • R9: #4 Hohohoho 10-1
  • R9: #9 Mopolka 8-1
  • R12: #12 Uncle’s Gem 8-1

Good luck today!

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