A full field of fillies and mares will hit the turf course at Aqueduct for Saturday’s $200,000 Long Island Handicap (G3) going 1 ½ miles, and it appears the Todd Pletcher trained Viva Rafaela is going to be the one to catch.
The feature goes off as the seventh race on a nine race card at the Big A on Saturday. The turf course may still have some give to it as rains knocked the races off the turf on Thursday and Friday this week.
The Pletcher trainee set the early fractions in the Flower Bowl Invitational (G1) in her most recent outing before weakening to finish third, beaten just 1 ½ lengths. She will pick up a new rider in Joe Bravo with Javier Castellano still sitting out a seven-day suspension for a riding infraction.
Trainer Christophe Clement will be busy, saddling three runners in the race. He sends out the mare Aigue Marine (5-1) who looks to bounce back off a fifth in the Glen Falls (G3), Tabreed (10-1), who was third in the Kentucky Ladies Marathon at Kentucky Downs, and Maximova (15-1) who was sixth in the Athenia (G3) in her last outing.
The feature at Del Mar on Saturday is the $75,000 Let it Ride for three-year-olds going one mile on turf. The one to beat may be the filly Maibaby, who makes her U.S. debut for trainer Neil Drysdale.
I have my full card reports for both Del Mar and Aqueduct for Saturday and my Best Plays will include my strongest plays from the two tracks.
Let’s head out to Aqueduct for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Aqueduct Race 7 The Long Island Handicap G3 (3:14 ET)
2 Viva Rafaela 7-2
5 Danza Cavallo 3-1
1 Aigue Marine 5-1
3 Tabreed 10-1
Analysis: Viva Rafaela is coming off a good effort in the Flower Bowl Invitational (G1) here she set the early fractions and held on gamely until late in a third place finish behind a couple of talented turf runners in Stephanie’s Kitten and Abaco. The mare has had three trips at today’s 1 1/2 mile distance with a couple of seconds including the Orchid (G3) at Gulfstream Park back in March.
The Todd Pletcher trainee appears to be the lone speed and if jockey Joe Bravo can shake loose early and set moderate fractions she may be tough to run down late in this spot.
Danza Cavallo makes her U.S. debut here for the Chad Brown barn that is 27% winners (with a +ROI) with runners making their North American debut. The filly won three of 11 overseas including taking a listed stake last out at Vichy in France. She makes her first start off a three-month break but shows several solid works and Brown said the filly worked out with stakes winners Stephanie’s Kitten and Testi Rossi and more than held her own.
The barn hits at a 29% clip (with a +ROI) with runners coming back off a 61-180 day layoff. The only worry is the price, which may drift below the 3-1 morning line. She is getting five pounds from our top pick.
Aigue Marine is one of three in here sent out by the Christophe Clement barn. Last out the mare stalked the early pace toward the inside and finished evenly in a fifth place finish in the Glen Falls (G3). She won the Dick Memorial (G3) two back at Delaware Park going 1 3/8 miles and is proven at today’s 1 1/2 mile distance. Three back in the Bewitch (G3) at Keeneland at the spring meeting she was beaten just a head.
She was sixth in this race last year and a close up third back in 2012. She fits with her best and the 5-1 morning line looks fair enough.
WIN: #2 to win at 3-1 or better.
EX: 2,5 / 1,2,3,5
TRI: 2,5 / 1,2,3,5 / 1,2,3,5,6
Michael Dempsey’s full card reports for the entire Aqueduct Fall/Winter meeting from now until Dec. 31 which includes his selections, analysis, fair odds line, and wagering recommendations. All Big A Reports until the end of the year. ONLY $129.95!