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At the Gate - Thursday

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Trainer Tony Dutrow saw enough from Grace Hall in her victory in last Saturday's Indiana Oaks (G2) that he will now point the talented three-year-old filly to the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic (G1).

The filly won the Delaware Oaks (G2) back in July and she was the 7-5 morning line favorite for the Alabama (G1) at Saratoga on Aug. 18.

I made her my second choice in that race and I thought she had a good shot of winning, but the filly checked in a disappointing fifth as the 6-5 betting choice.

Questing took the field gate to wire to win by nine lengths, and I thought the rather conservative Dutrow might look for an easier spot for her next start.

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He found it in the Indiana Oaks where she only had to bet four foes, and she did it in style, drawing clear to win by 5 ¾ lengths, and she earned a solid 103 Beyer Speed Figure for the win.

That figure stacks up pretty well with Royal Delta, who earned a 108 winning the Beldame (G1) and the 108 by Awesome Feather in her victory in the ungraded Nasty Storm.

The Ladies' Classic is shaping up to be one the best races over the two day Breeders' Cup, and it looks as if a field of seven or eight will line up, and they will all be Grade 1 winners.

Two of them, My Miss Aurelia and Awesome Feather are undefeated. Royal Delta is the defending champion and is the early betting favorite.

While the boys facing off in the Classic is usually the marquee event of the Breeders' Cup, this year's Ladies' Classic is the race I am most looking forward to handicapping and wagering on.

We lost a ton of turf racing last week at Belmont Park thanks to Mother Nature, but the weather looks good over the next four days, although the turf may still be less than firm for today's action.

Purchase my Monthly Package and receive an entire month of Belmont Park action and my weekend Keeneland and my 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 for Thursday click here.

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

BEL Race 1 Md $20,000 (12:50 ET)
1 Madame Prospector 7-2
8 Azasecret 7-5
6 Hall of Flame 5-1
5 Outlaw Cody Z 4-1

Analysis: Madame Prospector
chased the early pace and weakened in the stretch to finish fourth last out at this level in her second start off the layoff. She caught a racing strip that was playing to outside stalkers and closers that day. Two back off a eight month layoff she prompted the early pace, took over the lead heading for home and was caught late, beaten just a head at 28-1. She makes her third start off the bench here and while she is sent out by a low % outfit, most of these barns in the opener rarely find their way to the winners circle.

Azasecret set the early fractions and could not match strides late with the winner, setting for the runner up spot last out in her first start after landing with the Jerkens barn. This gal ran in a couple of highly graded races two and three back at the Spa, two back the top pair coming back to graduate next out while three back on the turf the race produced three next out winners. She looks as if she catches a group here she should be able to handle but the price is going to be on the light side. She is out of the stakes winner Azusa ($189K) who has dropped 11 winners including a pair of stakes winners, top earner Unforgettable Too ($208K).

Wagering
WIN: #1 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 1,8 / 1,5,6,8
TRI: 1,8 / 1,5,6,8 / 1,5,6,7,8

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

BEL Race 8 OClm $75,000C (4:34 ET)
4 Za Approval 5-2
2 Queen'splatekitten 3-1
3 Bad Debt 10-1
1 Self Control 4-1

Analysis: Za Approval
makes his first start since May where the gelding beat Alw-2 optional claimers in a game effort. He has won three of his five starts on turf and is in good hands with the Clement barn that is 19% winner with horses coming back off a 61-180 day layoff. The gelding has a couple of sibs that are stakes winners, and they both are terrors on turf, Revved Up ($1.5 million), a 18 time winner on turf and Miesque's Approval ($2.6 million), a 12 time winner on grass.

Queen'splatekitten was bumped coming out of the gate in the Bernard Baruch (G3) and made a mild late run to finish fifth last out. Two top two in the race came back to run fifth and sixth in the Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) last week at Keeneland. Two back this Pletcher runner ran a good second in the Oceanport (G3) behind repeat winner Tune Me In, who came back to win the Cliff Hangar (G3) in his next outing on Sept. 1. He looks like a good fit here dropping back into the allowance ranks.

Wagering
WIN: #4 to win at 2-1 or better.
EX: 2,4 / 1,2,3,4
TRI: 2,4 / 1,2,3,4 / 1,2,3,4,6

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
R2: #6 Black Onyx 8-1
R3: #3 Casket Model 8-1
R5: #7 Vicki's Dancer 12-1
R7: #3 Old Man Meese 8-1
R8: #3 Bad Debt 10-1
R9: #10 Devoted Wildcat 20-1

Good luck today!

  
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