Red Smith, Discovery headline Saturday card at Aqueduct

A twin-bill of graded stakes highlights the Saturday action at New York’s Aqueduct Racetrack. Older turfers will go 1 3/8 miles in the Grade III Red Smith Handicap in Race 7, while three-year-olds occupy the traditional feature slot, Race 8 of 9, in the Grade III Discovery Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on the main track. As always, feel free to give FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game a try in addition to wagering on the races.

#8 WAKE FOREST (8-5, morning-line favorite) is the highweight in the Red Smith field at 123 lbs. Trained by Chad Brown and ridden by Javier Castellano, WAKE FOREST has campaigned at the Grade I level the majority of the year, with his season highlight being a victory in Belmont’s Man O’ War Stakes. On the strength of his consecutive in-the-money finishes at Woodbine, WAKE FOREST is an intimidating presence in this group of 11.

#7 MESSI (5-1) is the wise choice to complete the exacta under Edgar Prado. He probably didn’t care for the newly-installed turf course at Santa Anita, so toss his up-the-track finish in the John Henry Stakes last time out. Prior to that debacle he notched his greatest accomplishment to date; a win in the Sky Classic Stakes at Woodbine.

#9 BIGGER PICTURE (6-1) looks like a useful backup off his narrow defeat in the Sycamore Stakes at Keeneland last time out. He already owns a win at this distance and over this course, and Jose Ortiz sees fit to keep the mount.

The play: $6 exacta 8/7, $4 exacta 8/9 ($10)

#3 GIFT BOX (3-1) has a good chance to complete the stakes double for Brown and Castellano in the Discovery. His effort in the Travers Stakes behind freakishly-good Arrogate can be dismissed. Before that race GIFT BOX had composed some fast form, including two in-the-money finishes in his previous two stakes tries. With just one graded stakes victor in the field (longshot SUNNY RIDGE, who took the Withers here back in January), GIFT BOX is not outclassed either.

#1 ADULATOR (7-2) has had trouble getting to the wire first, but he’s been facing older competition ever since his maiden win at Aqueduct back in April. Returning to restricted company and boasting some strong speed figures, ADULATOR figures to be a fearsome foe for GIFT BOX with John Velazquez in the saddle.

#9 WILD ABOUT DEB (15-1) has longshot appeal as Jose Ortiz jumps aboard. He hasn’t had the most consistent campaign but he did hit the board at a big price in the Pennsylvania Derby last time out. He’s also been training like a monster at Parx for Ramon Preciado, who picks his spots diligently when shipping out of town.

#5 GOVERNOR MALIBU (4-1) disappointed as the favorite in the Empire Classic last time out, but he has two minor stakes wins to his credit and owns a score over this course. The New York-bred appears to have a shot even as he dives back into open company. GOVERNOR MALIBU gets an interesting rider switch to Joe Bravo as Joel Rosario rides elsewhere (#4 STICKSSTATELYDUDE).

The play: $8 exacta 3/1, $4 exacta 3/5,9, $4 exacta 1/3 ($20)

DFJ analysis: Javier Castellano ($11,000) has two very live stakes mounts in WAKE FOREST and GIFT BOX. He also has seven other mounts at 5-1 or below in odds throughout the program. Pay the premium to get Castellano in your stable this weekend.

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