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At the Gate - Saturday
The final graded stake of the Belmont Park spring/summer meeting is today’s $600,000 Man o’ War (G1), a 1 3/8 mile turf event that drew a field of eight.
It is one of 10 graded stakes around the country today, and this weekend will be the last for Belmont Park, Hollywood Park and Colonial Downs.
Point of Entry would have been the betting favorite for the Man o’ War, but the Shug McGaughey trainee came out of his win in the Manhattan (G1) with a non-displaced condylar fracture of his left-hind cannon bone which required surgery, knocking him to the sidelines.
McGaughey still has the morning line favorite with Boisterous, who has won half of his 20 career starts on grass and is coming into the race off a sharp win in the Monmouth (G2) on June 9.
I am leaning toward Manhattan runner up Optimizer, who put in a solid effort, beaten 1 ½ lengths. The D. Wayne Lukas trainee is bred to handle the extra ground.
We have another long day, as my Best Plays Report includes the late Pick 4 at Hollywood Park that starts at 4:10 PT as well as the stakes action from Colonial Downs.
The $500,000 Virginia Derby (G1) is the marquee event of the night with an 8:12 ET post time and there are four stakes leading up to the state’s biggest race.
The Gary Contessa trained Rydilluc  is the 9-5 morning line favorite and is coming off a win in the first running of the Penn Mile at Penn National. The colt is perfect in four starts on turf but gets another test here in his first trip at 1 ¼ miles.
Trainer Todd Pletcher has won the Virginia Derby twice, with English Channel in 2005 and Red Giant in 2007, and sends out a pair on Saturday night in Charming Kitten (7-2) and Jack Milton (4-1) who are both exiting the Penn Mile.
I going with Jack Milton, who won the Transylvania (G3) at Keeneland back in April and in just his fifth career, starts looks as if he still has some upside and looks capable of turning the tables with the extra distance they will travel tonight.
Click here to purchase my full card report for Belmont Park for Saturday.
Click here to purchase my Best Plays for Saturday which include my strongest plays from Belmont Park, Colonial Downs and Hollywood Park.
Here is today’s opening race from Belmont Park to get the day off to a good start:
BEL Race 1 Clm $15,000B (1:05 ET)
7 Concealed   9-5
2 Little Gabby Girl   7-2
3 La Bella Chabella   3-1
1 Precious Franca   8-1
Analysis: Concealed faces winners for the first time after breaking her maiden last out against state bred maiden special weight company in her sixth career start in a race taken off the turf. Two back she ran a good second behind Ah Gaga, who came back to beat state bred Alw-1 optional claimers in her next outing on July 4. The Jacobson filly finds a soft spot for her start against winners here.
Little Gabby Girl also faces winners for the first timer after breaking her maiden against state bred $20,000 foe sin her eighth career outing. She was cutting back form a mile and she was much the best, drawing clear to win by 5 1/4 lengths. She is going to need to move forward a couple of lengths off that maiden win to win here but she does look headed in the right direction for the Brown barn.
WIN: #7 to win at 8-5 or better.
EX: 2,7 / 1,2,3,7
TRI: 2,7 / 1,2,3,7 / 1,2,3,5,7
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Belmont Park:
BEL Race 9 The Man o' War G1 (5:17 ET)
1 Optimizer   2-1
6 Boisterous   9-5
2 Speaking of Which   12-1
4 Twilight Eclipse   9-2
Analysis: Optimizer tracked the early pace and finished up well  for the runner up spot last out in the Manhattan (G1) behind Point of Entry, beaten 1 1/2 lengths over yielding footing. This guy also ran second to 2012 Horse of the Year Wise Dan three back in the Woodward Reserve Turf Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs. The D. Wayne Lukas trainee has now lost five in a row since winning the Fair Grounds Handicap (G3) over soft footing, but has been facing tougher. The colt has enough pedigree to handle the 1 3/8 miles as he is by English Channel out of an A.P. Indy mare.
Boisterous has won 10 of his 20 career starts on turf and looks like he will be tough here. He is coming off a sharp win in the Monmouth (G2) last out going nine furlongs over good ground. Three he beat that day have come back to win next out including the runner up Big Blue Kitten, who won the United Nations (G1) at Monmouth Park on July 3. The Shug McGaughey trainee has won five of his eight trips over the turf here. He is spotting four pounds to our top pick and his price may end up being lighter as well.
WIN: #1 to win at 2-1 or better.
EX: 1,6 / 1,2,4,6
TRI: 1,6 / 1,2,4,6 / 1,2,4,5,6
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Calder:
CNL Race 7 The Virginia Derby G2 (8:12 ET)
5 Jack Milton   4-1
9 Fear the Kitten   15-1
4 Rydilluc   9-5
3 Charming Kitten   7-2
Analysis: Jack Milton is one of three in here exiting the inaugural running of the Penn  Mile at Penn National on June 1, running a good third to the morning line favorite here Rydilluc, beaten ¾ of a length for the top spot and getting beat out of the photo for the runner up spot by Charming Kitten. The Todd Pletcher trainee was up fairly close to the lead, came with a three wide bid and finished up well and looks as if he is going to be able to handle the extra ground here and turn the tables. Two back he won the Transylvania (G3) at Keeneland by a neck in a game effort in his stakes debut. The runner up Up With the Birds came out of that race to win the Marine at Woodbine and then run a good second in the Queen’s Plate. The third place finisher Redwood Kitten came out of the race to win the James Murphy at Pimlico in his next outing and is also in the field here. John Velazquez sticks here and this guy still looks as if he still has some upside. His is by War Front out of a Forty Nine mare that also dropped turf stakes winner Peace Preserver ($261,126).
Fear the Kitten is one of three “Kittens” in here by sire Kitten’s Joy, who won this race in 2004 and this colt is going to be the biggest price of the trio. He was claimed for just $40,000 in his debut away from trainer Wayne Catalano and owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey. He landed with Mike Maker this year and went down the Triple Crown trail. He has won on poly and dirt and this is his turf debut. He certainly is bred to like grass, out of a Dynaformer mare that has dropped two other dirt winners but no turf winners to date. The colt is going to be running late and should get a good pace set up as there is enough early speed signed up in here.
Rydilluc is perfect in four starts on turf, winning the Penn Mile last out. His only losses where in his debut on dirt last fall and a fourth place finish on poly in the Blue Grass (G1) where he set the early fractions and did not have enough left late, weakening to finish fourth but only beaten 1 ¾ lengths for the top spot. The question is whether he is going to be able to handle the extra ground here and at a light price. He is out of the stakes winner Swift and Classy ($61,770) who was perfect in three starts winning the What a Summer at six furlongs in the last start of her abbreviated career. She has dropped four other winners including stakes winner Gold Wonder ($188,878). The colt is going to be tough here but is going to be a short price.
WIN: #5 to win at 3-1 or better.
EX: 5,9 / 3,4,5,9
TRI: 5,9 / 3,4,5,9 / 3,4,5,6,9
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
R1: #1 Precious Franca   8-1
R2: #2 Unprecedented   12-1
R3: #9 Pin Number   10-1
R4: #2 Love Stanza Chance   8-1
R5: #3 River Monster   8-1
R6: #5 Sky Blue Pink   10-1
R9: #2 Speaking of Which   12-1
R10: #9 Regal Strike   10-1
Good luck today!

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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.
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.

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Jerry Sessa Jerry "Shots" Sessa has been involved in horse racing for over 30 years. He now brings his meticulous handicapping style to 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.

In the 2015 Belmont Stakes Jerry dominated races 8-11 by hitting a $4,400 Pick 4, 3 Daily Doubles, 2 Pick 3's and calling American Pharoah as the first Triple Crown winner in 36 years.

Jerry is always looking to repeat his 2012 Triple Crown success, when he selected the winning horses for The Preakness and The Belmont Stakes.

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