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Vinny from Real Dynasty Picks previews the 2023 Gazelle Stakes (G3) from Aqueduct, then gives his top picks & long shots from this 100-point prep race for the 2023 Kentucky Derby (G1). The Chad Brown-trained Shidabhuti looks to stay unbeaten in her final test before the Oaks, but can she recapture the same magic that won her the Busanda Stakes? Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!
Four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown will have two chances to secure his fourth Grade 3, $250,000 Gazelle conquest with stakes-winners Occult and Shidabhuti in the nine-furlong test for sophomore fillies on Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack.
The Gazelle, which will award 100-40-30-20-10 qualifying points towards the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks to the top-five finishers, is slated as Race 3 and is one of four graded events on Saturday. The 11-race card co-features the Grade 1, $300,000 Carter Handicap presented by NYRA Bets in Race 8; the Grade 2, $750,000 Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino, a 100-40-30-20-10 Kentucky Derby qualifier, in Race 11; and the Grade 3, $200,000 Bay Shore in Race 6. First post is 12:15 p.m. Eastern.
The Racing Dudes Betting Bible features the EXACT race-by-race wagering plan for Aaron Halterman and Jared Welch, the two founders of Racingdudes.com, on April 8, 2023 at Keeneland. Includes pace analysis, Pick 4 and Pick 5 tickets, ROI stats, and Top 4 picks for each race from our team of expert handicappers!
Alpha Delta Stables’ Occult will look to follow in the footsteps of the Brown-trained Lewis Bay, a homebred for the same connections that won the 2016 Gazelle en route to a third-place finish in the Kentucky Oaks. Occult, a dark bay daughter of Into Mischief, was last seen pouncing to a 3 3/4-length victory in the Busanda going the Gazelle distance on January 14 at the Big A. She stalked close to the pace in second under Dylan Davis before making her move mid-turn and drawing clear down the stretch to earn her first stakes victory over a track rated good. The effort garnered a 78 Beyer Speed Figure.
Bred in Kentucky by Peter E. Blum Thoroughbreds, Occult graduated at second asking in a one-turn mile maiden special weight on December 18 over the local going. A $625,000 purchase at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, she is out of the graded stakes-winning Empire Maker mare Magical Feeling, making her a half-sister to the multiple stakes-winner Exulting. She is also a full-sister to an unraced 2-year-old colt named Imagination, who sold for $1.05 million at last year’s Keeneland September Yearling Sale. Her second dam, Magical Mood, is a half-sister to the unraced broodmare Business Plan, who produced 2012 Grade 1 Travers winner Golden Ticket.
Davis returns to the irons from post 5.
Peter Brant’s Shidabhuti will look to keep her perfect record intact after a last-out stakes triumph in the one-mile Busher Invitational over a sloppy and sealed Big A main track on March 4. The daughter of Practical Joke was fourth-of-6 at the half-mile call under Dylan Davis and came within two lengths of her pacesetting stablemate Asset Purchase in the turn. Shidabhuti made up ground with every stride down the stretch and took command at the sixteenth pole to win by two lengths. She earned a career-best 77 Beyer for the victory, a marked improvement from the 62 she received for her previous two victories.
Shidabhuti was an eye-catching winner of her September 17 debut sprinting six furlongs at Monmouth Park, rallying from last-of-8 with an inside bid to take control in the stretch and coast home 6 1/2 lengths in front. She followed with a tidy two-length allowance score when stretching out to a one-turn mile on January 22 at the Big A one start before her Busher coup.
Out of the unraced Candy Ride mare A.P. Candy, Shidabhuti was bred in Kentucky by Gabriel Duignan and Gerry Dilger and was purchased for $310,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale.
Manny Franco will look to engineer a winning ride from post 6.
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Two-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Brad Cox will send out the stakes-placed Juddmonte homebred Capella on the heels of a third-place effort to Shidabhuti in the Busher last out. The bay daughter of Quality Road broke inward from post 2 and rated one length off the pace at the half-mile call before making a bid mid-turn and keeping on well down the lane to finish 3 1/4 lengths behind Shidabhuti. She made both her stakes and dirt debut in the Busher after starting her career a perfect 2-for-2 over the all-weather surface at Turfway Park.
Capella has breezed over the Belmont Park dirt training track three times since the Busher in company with Grade 2 Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino contender Slip Mahoney, who finished a closing second in the Grade 3 Gotham. The pair most recently covered a half-mile in 49.10 seconds Saturday.
“She’s training well and came out of the breeze in good shape,” said Dustin Dugas, Cox’s Belmont-based assistant. “She went to the gate this morning and stood really well. She’s got her game face on, so we’re just going to keep her happy until race day. She’s been a lot more forward in her works every week and she’s gotten more and more comfortable here at Belmont. She’s very intelligent and a very cool filly.”
Kendrick Carmouche picks up the mount from post 1.
Hall of Fame conditioner Todd Pletcher will also go two-deep in his pursuit of a third Gazelle conquest with the New York-bred Gambling Girl [post 2, Jose Ortiz] and the Florida-bred Frosty O Toole [post 3, Jose Lezcano].
Repole Stable’s Gambling Girl, bred by Gallagher’s Stud, finished a closing fourth last out in the Grade 3 Honeybee at Oaklawn Park, rallying from 6 3/4 lengths off the pace to be defeated 4 1/2 lengths by Wet Paint, who exited that effort to win Saturday’s Grade 3 Fantasy at the Hot Springs oval. Gambling Girl has hit the board in 3-of-4 starts over the Big A main track, including a game third-place effort to stablemate Julia Shining in the Grade 2 Demoiselle in December.
“She’s very consistent and always seems to fire,” said Byron Hughes, Pletcher’s Belmont-based assistant. “She looks good in here and seems full of herself. She’s been galloping well and we’re ready.”
The daughter of Dialed In first announced her presence with a dominant 10 1/4-length maiden victory at third asking against state-breds in September at Saratoga Race Course. She followed with a victorious stakes debut in the state-bred Joseph A. Gimma at Belmont at the Big A before finishing a distant fourth in the Maid of the Mist over the same surface. Gambling Girl will return to Aqueduct for the first time since a runner-up finish to Occult in the January 14 Busanda.
Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ Frosty O Toole, a private purchase, will make her first outing for Pletcher after making her first four starts in Florida for owner/trainer Michael Dini. The daughter of Frosted debuted in December over the Gulfstream Park synthetic before trying turf and finishing an even fourth on January 15. She made the switch to dirt 20 days later and has won her last two starts at Tampa Bay Downs, graduating at third asking in a one-mile and 40-yard maiden before a strong 3 1/2-length optional claiming coup on March 8 going the same distance.
“She’s a big, good looking filly and galloped well today,” said Hughes. “It looks like she’s got a lot of talent.”
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Bred by Helen Barbazon, Joseph Barbazon and Godolphin, Frosty O Toole is out of the unraced Distorted Humor mare O’ Toole. She is a half-sister to the Eclipse Thoroughbreds-campaigned multiple graded stakes-placed Sister Otoole and stakes-winner Lady O’Toole, as well as Plenty O’Toole, the dam of multiple graded stakes-winning millionaire Mr. Money.
Aron Wellman of Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners said Frosty O Toole was purchased privately because of the group’s success with Sister Otoole, who earned over $330,000 in her 19-start career.
“She’s been on our radar since the beginning of her career,” said Wellman. “She’s a half-sister to Sister Otoole – she was good to us, so we’ve kept an eye on her. She began her career on turf and synthetic and ran moderate races in her first pair of outings, but when she went to Tampa on conventional dirt, she really transformed.”
Completing the field is Hoffman Thoroughbreds and Tom F. McCrocklin’s Promiseher America [post 4, Jorge Vargas, Jr.], who graduated at third asking on February 19 traveling a one-turn mile at Aqueduct for conditioner Ray Handal. The American Pharoah chestnut pounced from fourth-of-5 under Dylan Davis to take a 2 1/2-length advantage at the stretch call and extend her margin to 6 1/4 lengths at the wire, garnering a 73 Beyer for the effort.
Handal said he expects Promiseher America to relish the stretch out in distance as she races around two turns for the first time.
“She’s showed a tremendous amount of maturity from each race and I thought that she displayed it in that last race being able to sit off a nice pace and cover up,” Handal said. “She was very receptive to her rider at all times and when the question was asked to pick it up, she took herself out wide and made the killer move and kicked on. It was nice to see as she got to the wire that she was looking like she was just getting going, and she had a nice, strong gallop out.”
A $75,000 purchase at the OBS Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training, Promiseher America is out of the winning Unbridled’s Song mare Promisedyouheaven. Her second dam, the stakes-winning Hurricane Bernie, is a half-sister to the multiple graded stakes-winning millionaire Mizdirection.
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