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At the Gate - Sunday

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We saw quite a few dazzling performances on Saturday with six Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" races taking place.

The best may have been the victory by Wise Dan in the Shadwell Turf Mile (G1), his fourth win in five starts this year.

The Charles Lopresti trainee is a graded stakes winner on dirt, polytrack, and turf, and a good argument could be made that he is the best horse in training in the U.S.

Just this year he earned a 117 Beyer winning the Ben Ali (G3) on polytrack, missed winning the Stephen Foster (G1) on conventional dirt by a head to Ron the Greek, and has three graded stakes wins on turf.

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His next logical start will come in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Mile (G1) where he will take on the best the Europeans can bring over for the race.

Lopresti has not ruled out a go in the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) but said he is leaning toward a start in the Mile.

"We'll lean toward the Mile, but we won't rule out the Classic," Lopresti said after the race. "Listening to everybody talk, I think he deserves to run in the Classic. I just watch those races at Santa Anita. Maybe that track's a little bit loose. It doesn't seem like it was as tight as it was - just to me, anyway. If you watch him in the Stephen Foster (a Grade 1 race at Churchill Downs on June 16 in which Wise Dan was second), his action wasn't the best. In the Clark (a Grade 1 race at Churchill in November 2011 that he won), (the track) had a lot of moisture and it was tighter.

"If you watch him the Stephen Foster, that track was kind of loose that night and he wasn't getting a hold of it. He just wasn't on the bridle but he still ran a good race. Then when I got him to Saratoga, he didn't train that great on the dirt but he got better the more he was there. I'm a little worried about Santa Anita. It's the same kind of speed-oriented track, but it's a little deeper and looser. I don't know if he'll handle that. I know he'll handle the turf. We'll talk about it. We've got some options anyway."

A victory in the Mile may still lock up Horse of the Year honors for the gelding, but winning the Classic would assure the Eclipse, and the winning check would be quite a bit bigger.

Wise Dan paid a paltry $3.20 for the win yesterday, but did you see the exotic payoffs? The 48-1 longshot Willcox Inn rallied for second at 48-1, completing a $2 exacta that paid $66.00.

Slip and Drive came from off the pace to grab third at odds of 100-1, with the $2 trifecta returning $1,927.80.

My Best Plays Report for Sunday includes my eight strongest plays from Keeneland and Belmont Park.

Purchase my Monthly Package and receive an entire month of Belmont Park action and my weekend Best Plays Reports for just $99.95. Belmont Park runs five days a week with Monday and Tuesday dark days.

To purchase my full card report for Belmont Park and Keeneland for Sunday click here.

Here is today's opening from Belmont Park to get the day off to a good start:

BEL Race 1 Alw $75,000N1X (12:50 ET)
6 Town Flirt 5-2
4 Free as a Bird 9-5
1 Falbala 6-1
5 Seanchai 15-1


Analysis: Town Flirt is one of three in here that has beaten winners, taking a $50K starter allowance in the slop in a race washed off the turf four back. The turf was listed as good yesterday and there is some light rain in the forecast, but I am hoping it is not enough to knock us off the grass again. Our top pick last out was not a threat in a seventh place finish going a mile at the Spa. The winner was Pianist, who came back to win the Given Stakes in her next outing on Sept. 20. She broke her maiden over turf and three back was beaten just a half-length when fourth in her first go at the level. She catches a softer group here.

Free as a Bird was a sharp maiden winner last out going seven furlongs in her first career start on turf, winning by 7 1/4 lengths. She should have no issue stretching out to a route of ground. She is by hared Spun out of the stakes winner Take the Cake ($256K). The filly makes her third start of her current form cycle and does not need to move forward much off her maiden effort to win here.

Wagering
WIN: #6 to win at 2-1 or better.
EX: 4,6 / 1,4,5,6
TRI: 4,6 / 1,4,5,6 / 1,2,4,5,6

Today's Featured Race of the Day from Belmont Park:

BEL Race 9 OClm $25,000N1X (5:06 ET)
1 Emily Allstar 4-1
5 E Z Passer 3-1
4 Crespano 2-1
2 Ode to Sami 7-2


Analysis: Emily Allstar made a good late rally to beat Alw-2 optional claimers last out at Philly in a good looking effort and now looks well spotted as she drops a notch to the Alw-1 level. The seven year old mare has run well over the main track here, landing in the exacta in all five trips. She makes her second start off the claim by the Trombetta barn and looks well spotted to win right back.

E Z Passer set the early fractions and could not hold on late, weakening to finish third while beaten just 3/4 of a length going a mile at this level. The mare cuts back to seven furlongs which should suit and she also has done some of her best work over the main track here, landing in the exacta in six of seven outings. She has lost ten in a row, her last win coming here against starter allowance foes last June, but she fits here and usually puts in a good effort, seldom running a bad one.

Wagering
WIN: #1 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 1,5 / 1,4,5
TRI: no play

Today's Featured Race of the Day from Keeneland:

KEE Race 8 The Spinster G1 (4:49 ET)
3 Aruna 7-2
6 Tiz Me Sue 5-1
5 In Lingerie 9-2
7 Upperline 12-1


Analysis: Aruna returns to poly for the first time since winning this race last year, which was her first and only start on a synthetic surface. She used the Spinster last year as a prep for the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) where she checked in fifth, beaten a length. She has only won once since, taking the Sheepshead Bay (G2) at Belmont Park over ground labeled as good. She was the beaten favorite last out in the Beverly D. (G1) at Arlington Park. She stumbled coming out of the gate, bobbled when clipping heels leaving the quarter mile marker and failed to threaten late. The runner up in the Marketing Mix was Marketing Mix, an impressive winner of the Rodeo Drive (G1) in her next outing on Sept. 29 at Santa Anita. She figures to bounce back with a better effort here with a better trip and has worked smartly over the synthetic surface at Fair Hill since her last outing.

Tiz Me Sue has not been on poly since her first three career starts back in '09. Last out she stalked the early pace and finished evenly in a fourth place finish in the Personal Ensign (G1) at the Spa, beaten two lengths. The winner Love and Pride came back to win the Zenyatta (G1) at Santa Anita and the runner up Royal Delta came back to win the Beldame (G1) by 9 1/2 lengths. Her last win came in the Azeri (G3) at Oaklawn Park back in March, but has been in the mix in her last four starts running into the best of the division. She is bred to like poly and she ran well over it to start off her career including a runner up finish in the Arlington Washington Lassie (G3) as a juvenile.

Wagering
WIN: #3 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 3,6 / 3,5,6,7
TRI: 3,6 / 3,5,6,7 / 3,5,6,7,11

Live Longshots:
These are price plays for exotic players looking to find a couple of extra contenders to use in their trifecta and superfecta wagers. Or for those with smaller bankrolls, you might want to get in a small win-place wager.

Belmont Park
R1: #5 Seanchai 15-1
R3: #7 Honest Johnny 8-1
R5: #1 Lovely Dynaformer 15-1
R5: #5 Frege 10-1
R7: #8 Retired 12-1
R8: #6 Shortcoming 12-1
R10: #10 Strikealinethruit 8-1

Good luck today!

  
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Mike covers the New York racing circuit (Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga) year round as well as Keeneland, Churchill Downs, the Triple Crown, and the Breeders’ Cup.
Last Year Mike had a solid Triple Crown, correctly picking the winning horse in 2 of 3 races. He selected I'll Have another to win The Preakness, and nailed Union Rags to win the Belmont Stakes as his top pick.

Mike has also had past succes in the Kentucky Derby,  winning with Animal Kingdom in 2011 and rode his top picks, Super Saver and Street Sense, to the finish line in 2010 and 2007 respectively.

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