We have a bit of a long day (and night) in front of us on Saturday, with first post at Belmont Park at 12:50 ET and the finale on Opening Night at Churchill Downs coming more than 10 hours later at 11:10 ET.
We turned a small profit with my top picks on Friday at Belmont Park on the first day of the meeting with three winners on top along with five recommended exactas.
Saturday’s card features a pair of stakes, the $90,000 Tweedside for three-year-old fillies on the turf, and the Grade 3 $150,000 Westchester for older runners going a mile on the main track.
The Westchester drew a field of eight including multiple Grade 1 winner Flat Out, who is looking to rebound off a couple of subpar efforts in his last couple of starts. It is a tricky field he faces including the lightly raced Cross Traffic and Big Screen, who popped a huge 110 Beyer in his last start and has the look of a bounce candidate.
Opening Night at Churchill Downs gets underway at 6:00 ET, with the feature the Grade 3 $175,000 Derby Trial, the last points race of the season for runners looking to get into the starting gate next Saturday in the 139th running of the Kentucky Derby.
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas said Titletown Five would wheel back in a week if he picks up the win tonight and gets into the Derby field. He ended up my third choice as you can see below, and I think Lukas will have to turn all of his attention to his two colts that are heading to Louisville, Oxbow and Will Take Charge.
The Churchill Downs card gets off to a slow start tonight with fields of five, six, and six in the first three races.
It is going to be a non-stop party under the Twin Spires tonight, but I don’t think the Churchill Downs brass liked my tweet yesterday:
“The DJ's Churchill Downs hired for Opening Night actually outnumber the horses in the opening race.”
My Best Plays Report for Saturday features my selections, analysis, fair odds line, and wagering recommendations for 10 races today including my strongest plays from Belmont Park and Churchill Downs.
Purchase my Monthly Package and receive an entire month of Belmont Park action, my Saturday Churchill Downs Reports, my weekend Best Plays Reports, as well as my Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby Day reports for just $99.95.
Here is today’s opening from Belmont Park to get the day off to a good start:
BEL Race 1 OClm $25,000N1X (12:50 ET) 7 Ez Effort 7-2 1 Dawly / 1a Shock'emagain 5-2 5 B Shanny 3-1 4 He's So Chic 6-1
Analysis: Ez Effort makes his first start since last May for the Pletcher barn that is 32% winners (with a +ROI) with runners coming back off a +180 day layoff. The colt was a smart looking maiden winner at Gulfstream Park in his second career start, drawing away to win by eight lengths. In his first go against winners he set the early factions and weakened to finish fourth going a route for the first time. He spent the winter in Florida at Payson so perhaps Pletcher though he would get this guy going at Gulfstream Park.
Dawly caught a muddy surface last out, making a good late rally up the rail to finish in the runner up spot behind a loose on the lead gate to wire winner. The third place finisher was Rein King, who came back to beat Alw-1 optional claimers in his next start on March 23. The extra furlong here should suit. Entrymate Shock'emagain was a close up third last out against $40,000 claimers at Gulfstream Park, beaten a half-length for the top spot. The colt was claimed out of the race by the RRod barn that is 25% winners
WIN: #7 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 1,7 / 1,4,5,7
TRI: 1,7 / 1,4,5,7 / 1,2,4,5,7
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Belmont Park:
BEL Race 9 The Westchester G3 (4:58 ET) 3 Flat Out 7-2 2 Cross Traffic 5-2 7 Big Screen 3-1 5 Rattlesnake Bridge 3-1
Analysis: Flat Out looks as if he may have lost a step, earning triple digit Beyers in his last three starts last year but running subpar efforts in his two starts this year. Last out he just did not have enough punch in the stretch in the New Orleans Handicap (G3) going nine furlongs. He does returns to his favorite surface where he is perfect in three starts including winning the past two runnings of the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1). It is encouraging to see Mott run this guy back and it looks as if he is going to get a good pace set up here.
Cross Traffic has the most upside in this race, breaking his maiden in his debut and then coming back with a 7 1/2 length win against Alw-1 optional claimers in his last outing in fast time. Only Big Screen earned a higher last out speed fig and that number looks as if it may be on the generous side. The colt was a $300,000 purchase and has a solid pedigree, by Unbridled's Song out of the stakes winner Stop Traffic ($864,518).
WIN: #3 to win at 3-1 or better.
EX: 2,3 / 2,3,5,7
TRI: 2,3 / 2,3,5,7 / 1,2,3,5,7
Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Churchill Downs:
CD Race 10 The Derby Trial G3 (10:42 ET) 4 Forty Tales 3-1 3 Zee Bros 5-2 9 Titletown Five 5-1 1 Officer Alex 8-1
Analysis: Forty Tales is looking to bounce back off a subpar effort in the Swale (G3) last out where the colt came with a five wide bid and did not have any punch left in the stretch in a fifth place finish as the even money chalk. The winner Clearly Now came back to run second in the Bay Shore (G3) at Aqueduct on April 6, beaten a head. Two back our top pick made a good late rally to finish in the runner up spot in the Hutcheson (G2) which was his stakes debut. The colt has enough pedigree to handle the stretch out to a mile and he is going to get a good pace set up as there is plenty of early zip signed up to go here. The Todd Pletcher barn is 35% winners (with a +ROI) moving runners from sprint to route.
Zee Bros is coming off a good looking maiden score in his second career start. The colt took the field gate to wire at 4-5 and earned a triple digit Beyer. The effort was flattered when the runner up Master Appeal came back to graduate in his next start on April 13 and the third place finisher Pure Royalty earned his diploma in his next outing on April 7. The colt put in a bullet drill on April 18 over the main track here for the Bob Baffert barn that has won this race twice. The colt owns solid early pace numbers but things won’t be easy up front and the price may end up lighter than the 5-2 morning line.
Titletown Five is the lone runner in the field that appears likely to wheel back in a week and run in the Kentucky Derby (G1) with a win. The colt is coming off a ninth place finish in the Louisiana Derby (G2) last out which was his first start around two turns. The colt bobbled coming out of the gate, was sent up to vie for the early lead through sharp fractions and faded to finish 8 ½ lengths back of Revolutionary. The third place finisher Departing came back to win the Illinois Derby (G3) in his next start on April 20. The cut back to one turn should suit and he makes his third start off the bench. He showed plenty of promise as a two year old, only beaten by Violence by a neck last summer at Saratoga.
WIN: #4 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 3,4 / 1,3,4,9
TRI: 3,4 / 1,3,4,9 / 1,3,4,6,9
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.
Mike DempseyMike 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. The 2015 Triple Crown saw Mike correctly predict American Pharoah to win both the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. Mike nailed the Exacta and Trifecta in the Belmont Stakes. Mike had a solid 2014 Triple Crown race season, 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 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. No handicapper in the industry works harder to bring you analysis that produces profits at the track! Mike's Reports include his selections, detailed analysis, a fair odds line, and wagering recommendations for the entire card. Join Mike each day with daily picks from Belmont and Churchill Downs or capture the 2nd jewel in the Triple Crown with Mike's Preakness Stakes package. You can also get his Weekend Best Plays Report in his Multi-Track package or sit at the track with him for 30 Days with his Monthly Horse Package!
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Jerry SessaJerry "Shots" Sessa has been involved in horse racing for over 30 years. He now brings his meticulous handicapping style to VegasInsider.com. When Jerry posts picks you are getting his best bets...when you win, he wins. Jerry opened the 2016 Triple Crown season by hitting his Derby Day best bet, Nyquist. He also nailed the Derby exacta for a $30.60 payout. On 4/16/16 at Keeneland, Jerry hit an $819 exacta that led to a $38k Trifecta & a $300k Super.
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