Aqueduct features four graded stakes on Saturday, all on dirt, highlighted by the $750,000 Cigar Mile Handicap (G1), the final Grade 1 race on the New York circuit in 2018.
A field of eight will line up led by the Aiden O’Brien trained Mendelssohn, the 2-1 morning line favorite. The colt is seeking his first Grade 1 win on dirt. He has lost his last five starts in the U.S. after winning the UAE Derby (G2) at Meydan back in March by 18 ½ lengths.
The colt won the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) at Del Mar in his U.S. debut.
Among his foes are the top three finishers from the Kelso Handicap (G2) and the up and coming Todd Pletcher trainee Copper Town, who makes his stakes debut in his second start off a year layoff.
The supporting features on Saturday’s card at Aqueduct are the $250,000 Remsen (G2), $250,000 Go for Wand Handicap (G3) and the $250,000 Demoiselle (G2).
The Remsen is a Road to the Kentucky Derby points surfaces with 10-4-2-1 points up for grabs toward entry into the Run for the Roses. Check out USRacing for the latest Kentucky Derby future betting odds.
The Chad Brown trained Network Effect is the 7-5 morning line favorite. The colt ran second in the Nashua (G3) last out in his second career start.
Today is opening day at Gulfstream Park featuring the Claiming Crown. At Del Mar the feature is the $300,000 Hollywood Derby (G1).
My Best Plays for Saturday include my strongest plays from Aqueduct, Gulfstream Park and Del Mar.
Let’s head out to Aqueduct for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Aqueduct Race 9 The Cigar Mile Handicap (G1) Post time 3:45 ET
2 Sunny Ridge 9-2
5 Copper Town 5-2
1 Mendelssohn 2-1
7 Timeline 10-1
The Jason Servis trainee makes his first start since running a good second in the Kelso Handicap (G1). The gelding stalked the early pace and could not get to the gate to wire winner who was taking full advantage of a racing strip that was kind to inside speed that day. He came up just a length short while giving two pounds. His best effort came three back in the State Dinner where he tracked the early pace and finished strongly to win by 3 ¼ lengths and earn a career top speed fig. He is going to get a good pace set up here as there is plenty of early zip signed up. The Servis barn is 28% winners with runners coming back off a 46-90-day break.
The colt came off a year layoff with a sharp win versus Alw-2 optional claimers and now makes his stakes debut here for the Pletcher barn. He drew off to win by five lengths and has won his last three starts by a combined 15 lengths. He beat Patternrecognition last October at Belmont Park at the Alw-1 level but had to hit the bench with bone bruising and an abscess. After wiring the fields in his two previous wins he showed last out he does not need the lead and that should come in handy here. Pletcher has won this race four times, the most recent with Stay Thirsty in 2012.
Aiden O’Brien makes yet another trip from across the pond with this guy. He set the early fractions in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) before weakening to check in fifth, beaten four lengths. He was a decent third in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) and did the dirty work in the Travers (G1) three back and held on gamely for the runner up spot. The race does not set up for him as he draws the rail, has plenty of others in here with early speed and his price is going to be on the light side.
WIN: Sunny Ride to win at 4-1 or better.
EXACTA: 2,5 / 1,2,5,7
TRIFECTA: 2,5 / 1,2,5,7 / 1,2,5,7,8