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Saturday Open Thread: NHC, Sunshine Millions, G3-Connally Turf

UPDATE #1: Aqueduct cancels the rest of their card after only three races due to cold weather.  AQU 8 was supposed to be the 3rd mandatory race today at the NHC.  Don't know if they will find a replacement race or just add an optional play.  

UPDATE #2: Official word is one more optional play in place of AQU 8.

UPDATE #3: First leaderboard update and the the gap has closed on the top spot from day 1.

UPDATE #4: Final leaderboard at the NHC is in and day one leader, Brian Troop, holds on to win.  He now holds the title of "DRF/NTRA Handicapper of the Year".  He also just won $500,000.  The title is nice...the cash kicks ass.

There are a bunch of different events taking place in the world of horse racing this Saturday, including a rare graded stake race from Texas.  The Grade 3 - John Connally Turf at Sam Houston is our lone graded stake of the day, and it looks like it could be a pretty good betting race.  A field of twelve will go 1 1/8 miles on the grass led by the 10-Orientate Express, the 4/1 morning line favorite.  

An interesting price play in this spot could be the 11-Pool Play, a Woodbine shipper making just his third start on turf.  Pool Play has been running primarily on the synthetics up in Canada but he appears to fit in with this group and has been displaying some nice form in his last few efforts.  Pool Play is 8/1 on the ML.

I'm going to spend the day primarily following the tracks and races associated with day two of the NHC where there will need to be a lot of big prices In order for the rest of the field to catch up with the record setting day 1 leader.  In an interview with the DRF yesterday, day 1 leader, Brian Troop, said his strategy for today is to keep firing away at big prices, and with an almost $80 lead he should be fine as long as he gets just one or two to come in.  It'll be interesting to see if anyone can make a serious dent in his lead.

Finally, today is Sunshine Millions day at Gulfstream and Santa Anita, with both the Filly and Mare Sprint and the Classic part of the NHC's mandatory plays.  Six races restricted to California and Florida breds will take place at the two tracks: the F&M Sprint, F&M Turf Sprint, and Classic at Santa Anita; and the Turf, Sprint, and Distaff at Gulfstream.