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At the Gate - Saturday

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The holiday weekend got off to good start on Friday at Belmont Park with three winners on top including first timer Jumpinofftheedge, who won the seventh race as my top pick and returning $43.80. The gelding topped an ice cold exacta that paid $153.50.
 
Weather is messing things up in New York again for Saturday, with the main track listed as muddy and the races off the turf except for the $200,000 Sheepshead Bay (G3), the feature for fillies and mares going 1 3/8 miles on the turf, which as sited as yielding as of this morning.
 
The weather is much better in Louisville, with the feature at Churchill Downs the $100,000 Louisville Handicap (G3) for three-year-olds and upward going 1 ½ miles on the turf.
 
Don’t forget we have racing on Monday and we have a really good card at Belmont Park. The card featuring the $750,000 Metropolitan Handicap (G1), $400,000 Ogden Phipps Handicap (G1), the Acorn (G1) and the $200,000 Sands Point (G2).
 
Click here to purchase my full card report for Churchill Downs for Saturday.
 
Click here to purchase my full card report for Belmont Park for Saturday.
 
My Multi-Track Report for Saturday includes my nine strongest plays from Belmont Park and Churchill Downs.
 
Here is today’s opening from Belmont Park to get the day off to a good start:
 
BEL Race 1 Clm $25,000B (1:05 ET)
2 Departures   6-1
3 Rangey   4-1
1 Roman Invasion / 1a Equivocation   2-1
6 Fly Ride   9-2
 
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Analysis: Departures
stalked the early pace, came with a wide bid and did not have enough punch left in the stretch in a sixth place finish versus similar company last out. The gelding was making his first go off a three month layoff. I am assuming we are going to be the turf today but there is a little rain in the forecast. The gelding is a three time winner over the turf here and the 6-1 morning line looks fair enough to give him a good look here.
 
Rangey set the early fractions and weakened to finish fourth last out going long. He cuts back as he makes his first start by the Englehart barn that is 21% winners first off the claim. He has done his best working going long but has enough speed he should be a threat here on the cut back.
 
Wagering
WIN: #2 to win at 4-1 or better.
EX: 2,3 / 1,2,3,6
TRI: 2,3 / 1,2,3,6 / 1,2,3,5,6
 
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Belmont Park:
 
BEL Race 8 The Sheepshead Bay G2 (4:45 ET)
1 Starformer   7-2
5 Hessonite   5-2
6 Strathnaver    4-1
7 Mystical Star   5-1
 
Analysis: Starformer is coming off a fifth place finish in the 1 ½ mile Orchid (G3) at Gulfstream Park, beaten 3 ½ lengths for the top spot. The winner Regalo Miss came back to run a good second in the Bewitch (G3) in her next outing on April 25 at Keeneland. The mare won her two previous starts, taking the Long Island Handicap (G3) and The Very One (G3), both over turf with some give to it which we likely will see again today. The Bill Mott trainee is perfect in three starts at today’s distance and is reunited with Edgar Prado who was aboard her for all four of her starts since coming to the U.S.
 
Hessonite has done most of her damage facing New York breds but is coming off one of her career best efforts winning the Beaugay (G3) for her first graded stakes win. The mare won last out despite coming back off a 6 ½ month layoff. She loves the Belmont Park turf course, winning five of nine trips with a couple of seconds. The question mark is the distance as most of her wins have come at 1 1/16 miles. She was fifth in the 1 ¼ mile Flower Bowl (G1) last September but had a rough trip that day. The mare figures to move forward second off the bench and has shown she can handle ground less than firm.
 
Strathnaver is perfect in two starts since arriving in the U.S. and landing with the Graham Motion barn. The filly beat Alw-1 optional claimers two back in her U.S. debut off a four month break, and then won the Bewitch (G3) last out despite a tough post, a seven wide rally, and drifting inward in the final furlong. The filly makes her third start off the layoff here and the cut back here to 1 3/8 miles should suit. Unlike ore Euro shippers she does not seem to have much experience over yielding or soft turf.
 
Wagering
WIN: #1 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 1,5 / 1,5,6,7
TRI: 1,5 / 1,5,6,7 / 1,2,5,6,7
 
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Churchill Downs:
 
CD Race 10 The Louisville Hcp G3 (5:30 ET)
6 Dark Cove   5-2
5 Ioya Bigtime   3-1
8 Al Qasr   20-1
2 Harrods Creek   4-1
 
Analysis: Dark Cove is coming off a sharp win in the Elkhorn (G2) at Keeneland at today's 1 1/2 mile distance. The Mike Maker barn claimed this guy for $40,000 last April and has won two of four starts with the six year old. This guy ran for just $16,000 back in 2010and did finish third in the Colonial Turf Cup the following year and likes the longer distances. The barn is on a real roll right now and this guy should get a good pace set up here.
 
Ioya Bigtime was the pacesetter and the beaten favorite in the Elkhorn, setting the early fractions while down along the inside and fading to finish ninth. Two back he ran well in a runner up finish in the Pan American (G2) at Gulfstream Park and does have a couple of wins at today's distance. He is better than he showed last out.
 
Wagering
WIN: #6 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 5,6 / 2,5,6,8
TRI: 5,6 / 2,5,6,8 / 2,4,5,6,8
 
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.
 
Churchill Downs
R2: #1 Norma’s Dream   8-1
R5: #6 By Golly Molly   12-1
R5: #11 Assets of War   10-1
R6: #7 Kentucky Lightnin   12-1
R8: #4 Big Blue Spirit   10-1
R9: #6 Tiz Now My Choice   8-1
R10: #8 Al Qasr   20-1
R11: #1 Philly R    15-1
 
Good luck today!

  
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  HORSE RACING EXPERT
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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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