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At the Gate - Friday

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Most of the final Breeders' Cup preps are in the books but we do have several outstanding stakes to look forward to on Saturday.

The feature at Keeneland on Saturday is the $400,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1), which drew a competitive field of eight three-year-old fillies that will go 1 1/8 miles over the turf course.

Stephanie's Kitten, winner of last fall's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G2) is the 5-2 morning line favorite. The Wayne Catalano trainee is coming off a win in the Lake Placid (G2) in her last start on Aug. 19 at Saratoga.

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She catches a tough group that includes Riskaverse winner Dayatthespa as well as the top three finishers of the Garden City (G1), Samitar, Somali Lemonade, and Tannery.

Saturday's stakes action at Belmont Park is also on the grass with a pair of graded stakes on the betting menu.

Dealbata leads the field in the $150,000 Athenia (G1) for fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles on the inner turf course.

The Chad Brown trainee is coming off a runner up finish in the Noble Damsel (G3) in her last outing and is the 7-5 morning line favorite.

Her main rivals figure to be Ruthenia, who was fourth in the Ballston Spa (G2) in her last start, and Laughing, who won the Matchmaker (G3) at Monmouth Park in July, but faded to finish eighth in the Canadian (G2) at Woodbine in her most recent outing.

The co-feature on the Saturday afternoon card is the $150,000 Knickerbocker (G3) for three-year-olds and upward who will go 1 1/8 miles on the inner turf course.

The Knickerbocker drew a field of eight, with Boisterous the 2-1 morning line favorite. The Shug McGauhey trainee was a disappointing ninth in the Arlington Million (G1) at 4-1 in his last outing on Aug. 18.

Bernard Baruch third place finisher Sky Blazer (3-1), Bowling Green (G2) runner up Bombaguia (4-1), and PTHA President's Cup winner Stormy Lord (5-1) figure to be the major threats to the likely favorite.

I will have my selections and analysis for all of the stakes action in Saturday's Best Plays Report.

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 Friday click here.

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

BEL Race 1 OClm $50,000N2X (12:50 ET)
2 Indy Scent 5-2
3 Beautyinthepulpit 7-2
1 Keep Me Informed 2-1
4 Ea 4-1


Analysis: Indy Scent stalked the early pace and had no punch in the stretch in a sixth place finish against Alw-3 optional claimers last out. Two back against $25K starter handicap foes he checked in a decent third behind a pair of next out winners. The winner Saginaw came back to beat state breds in the Promenade All Stakes, while the runner up returned to beat Alw-3 optional claimers. The gelding drops a notch in class to the Alw-2 level for his third start of his current form cycle.

Beautyinthepulpit was not much of a threat in a fifth place finish last out at this level, his first go off an eight month layoff. He has won two of three starts over the main track here, beating state bred Alw-1 and Alw-2 foes here last fall. He figures to be tighter for his second start off the bench and does not need to move forward all that much to be a player in this spot.

Wagering
WIN: #2 to win at 2-1 or better.
EX: 2 / 1,3
TRI: no play

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

BEL Race 7 The Rob N Gin (4:02 ET)
3 Beau Choix 5-1
4 Surfrider 8-1
2 Boots Ahead 4-1
7 Upgrade 3-1


Analysis: Beau Choix stalked the early pace, had to be taken in hand briefly nearing the half mile pole and finished evenly for fourth last out in the restricted Win, beaten 2 1/4 lengths for the top spot. Two back over yielding footing he was a game second, beaten just a neck against a tough group of optional claimers. The third place finisher in that race was Air Support, who came back to win the Bowling Green (G2) in his next outing on Sept. 8 here. The five year old can handle groundless than firm and while he is winless in his last nine starts, his last trip to the winners circle came in this race last year, which was his lone trip over the turf here.

Surfrider prompted the early pace while in between foes and faded to finish seventh in the Fourstardave (G2). The winner Wise Dan came back to win the Woodbine Mile (G1) and Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) in his next two starts. The colt drops into an easier spot and looks capable here with his best. He ran third last fall in the Qatar Prix de la Foret (G1) behind Dream Alive and Goldikova. He is a Group 3 winner and the 8-1 morning line looks more than fair.

Wagering
WIN: #3 to win at 3-1 or better.
EX: 3,4 / 2,3,4,7
TRI: 3,4 / 2,3,4,7 / 1,2,3,4,7

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: #1 Lizzie Bear 8-1
R4: #5 Royal Suspicion 8-1
R5: #6 Lake Superior 12-1
R7: #4 Surfrider 8-1
R8: #1 Carson Hall 10-1
R9: #10 To the Point 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.
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