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At the Gate - Sunday

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Reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan got the job done last night winning the Firecracker Handicap (G2), but it was not nearly as easy as most thought it would be considering his paltry payoff of $2.40.
 
The Charles Lopresti trainee had to battle the elements, as a rainstorm had the turf course labeled as yielding, with the trainer stating afterward he was one more downpour from being scratched.
 
Jockey John Velazquez found himself buried down along the inside in a pocket much of the trip despite facing just four foes. The jockey finally found a very narrow seam along the hedge, getting through a tight spot and actually brushing with the hedge.
 
The six-year-old grabbed the lead but appeared to slop and bobble in the stretch, finally drawing away to win by two lengths over Lea.
 
Velazquez did not seemed fazed by eventful the trip.
 
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“If you watch the head-on, he brushes up against the bushes and he even jumped right at the eighth-pole. By the sixteenth-pole, though, he got through,” Velazquez said.  “He’s just a very good horse. I know he can handle it when things get tight. He’s big enough to push his way through. I’ve ridden him that way before and I wasn’t worried about it.”
 
A winner of 16 of his 23 career starts, his winning purse of $104,439 moved his career earnings to $4,164,070.
 
It is closing day of the meeting at Churchill Downs, and we have a good betting card at Belmont Park today featuring three stakes.
 
Click here to purchase my full card report for Belmont Park for Sunday.
 
Click here to purchase my Best Plays for Sunday which include my eight strongest plays from Belmont Park and Churchill Downs.
 
Here is today’s opening race from Belmont Park to get the day off to a good start:
 
BEL Race 1 Clm $35,000B (1:05 ET)
6 Joking   5-2
1 Abra / 1a Vee's Accolade   2-1
5 Bairn   3-1
2 Attenborough   6-1
 
Analysis: Joking drops in for a tag for the first time here after coming up short in a sixth place finish last out in his turf debut facing Alw-1 foes. The effort was coming back off a three month break and he drops into a softer spot here. This guy has a nice pedigree, by Distorted Humor out of the stakes winner Spun Silk ($67,750). This guy earned a couple of solid figures three and four back and looks like he is well spotted here.
 
Abra and his stablemate Vee's Accolade are both coming off third place finishes against restricted $35,000 claimers. Abra makes his turf debut and has a decent enough pedigree out of a Storm Cat mare. Vee's Accolade makes his second start for the Jacobson barn and put in a good effort last fall against $20,000 non-winners of two on turf, checking in third and beaten just a half-length.
 
Wagering
WIN: #6 to win at 2-1 or better.
EX: 1,6 / 1,5,6
TRI: no play
 
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Belmont Park:
 
BEL Race 9 The NY Stallion Spectacular Bid (5:17 ET)
5 West Hills Giant    5-2
11 Call for the Clock   9-2
7 Captain Gaughen   4-1
1 Treblemaker / 1a Madam I'm Adam   10-1
 
Analysis: West Hills Giant returns to turf after getting beaten double digit lengths in his last two starts, last out a fifth place finish in the state bred Mike Lee. Three back this guy put in a good effort in a third place finish in the Gotham (G3) on the inner track. The colt broke his maiden over the grass at the Spa last September in his second career start and has faced tougher than these as he drops into a restricted Stallion Series race here. The blinkers come off and he gets a jock upgrade here to Prado.
 
Call for the Clock tries grass for the first time here off a fourth place finish versus state bred Alw-2 foes going a mile on the main track. He earned a solid fig two back beating state bred Alw-1 company in his second start against winners. He has a decent enough turf pedigree, by Read the Footnotes out of a Cryptoclearance mare that has dropped one other winner, G. A. Empress ($116,618) a two time winner on the lawn.
 
Wagering
WIN: #5 to win at 2-1 or better.
EX: 5,11 / 1,5,7,11
TRI: 5,11 / 1,5,7,11 / 1,2,5,7,11
 
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Churchill Downs:
 
CD Race 8 Md Sp Wt (4:27 ET)
2 St. Albans Boy   12-1
5 Layton Register   5-2
12 Prince of Spain   12-1
7 Professor Midnight   3-1
 
Analysis: St. Albans Boy drew a  tough post in his debut and after being outrun early was picking it up late in a fifth place finish, beaten seven lengths going a mile. He gets an extra furlong here and is bred to handle the extra ground. He is by Giant's Causeway out of a Diamond Shoal mare that has dropped three turf winners and a couple of stakes winners, top earner Deputy Diamond ($333,210). The hot riding Bridgemohan takes the call and the price will be right.
 
Layton Register is coming off a good effort in a third place finish, beaten two lengths for the top spot going a mile. Two back at today's nine furlong distance the colt came with a  good wide rally to come up just 3/4 of a length shy of the top spot. The extra ground here suits and this guy has a solid turf pedigree, by War Chant out of a Theatrical mare.
 
Wagering
WIN: #2 to win at 6-1 or better.
EX: 2,5 / 2,5,7,12
TRI: 2,5 / 2,5,7,12 / 2,5,7,10,12
 
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 Missed a Wildcat   10-1
R4: #1 D’princess   15-1
R6: #10 J Rose Gal   15-1
R7: 4 Ideal Place   8-1
R9: #1 Treblemaker / 1a Madam I’m Adam   10-1
 
Good luck today!

  
HEADLINES
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Chrome set to return in Penn Derby
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Uncle Southern wins Union Avenue
Shared Belief made Pacific favorite
Alexis Tangier wins Del Mar feature
MORE HEADLINES
 
  HORSE RACING EXPERT
  Mike Dempsey
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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