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At the Gate - Saturday
It does not get any better than the stakes action we have on tap this afternoon, with six graded stakes at Belmont Park and another five at Santa Anita.
All 11 of the races are Breeders' Cup Challenge “Win and You're In” races, with the winner of each race earning an automatic starting spot in the corresponding Breeders' Cup race along with an all-expenses paid trip to Santa Anita for the two-day championship event on Nov. 1-2.
There are several intriguing races where three-year-olds face their elders for the first time. Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Orb and Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Palace Malice take on older in the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1).
The duo will face a few tough runners in Flat Out, who is seeking his third straight win in the race, and Whitney Handicap (G1) winner Cross Traffic. As you can see below in today's featured race of the day, I think Orb will be up to the task.
It may not be a great betting race, but I am looking forward to the $400,000 Beldame (G1) where defending champion Royal Delta will take on the three-year-old filly Princess of Sylmar.
Royal Delta won the Beldame last year and then went on to win the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic (G1) for the second time. Princess of Sylmar comes into the race having won three consecutive Grade 1 races, the Kentucky Oaks, Coaching Club of America Oaks and the Alabama.
Royal Delta is the 3-5 morning line favorite and she appears to have the tactical advantage, although if a speed duel develops, Princess of Sylmar may be heard from late.
At Santa Anita, the three-year-old filly Beholder will take on older for the first time in the $250,000 Zenyatta (G1). She was second in the Kentucky Oaks after acting up pre-race, and then got a break. She came off a four month layoff and won the Torrey Pines at Del Mar over polytrack in her last start.
She takes on a couple of solid older runners in Authenticity, Joyful Victory and Include Me Out.
Saturday's Best Plays Report includes all 11 Breeders' Cup Challenge races from Belmont Park and Santa Anita.
Click here to purchase my full card report for Belmont Park for Saturday.
Here is today’s opening race from Belmont Park to get the day off to a good start:
BEL Race 1 OClm $20,000N1X (1:05 ET)
4 Iron Power   5-1
10 Knockher Off   7-2
6 River Tune   6-1
11 Fourseventeen   6-1
Analysis: Iron Power prompted the early pace and did not have enough punch left late in a fourth place finish last out here a couple of weeks ago although he was only beaten 3/4 of a length for the top spot. He broke his maiden on the inner track at the Big A but looks like he is heading in the right direction form wise and appears to have more upside than many of these state breds. The gelding has a decent pedigree, out of the stakes winner iron Goddess ($133,425).
Knockher Off came off an eight month layoff with a good looking maiden win against state bred maiden special weight company, drawing away under was to win by 8 1/4 lengths. The gelding earned the top last out speed fig in the effort and does not need to move forward much off his last outing to win at this level. The Jimmy Jerkens trainee is out of the stakes winner Silver Knockers ($249,658).
WIN: #4 to win at 7-2 or better.
EX: 4,10 / 4,6,10,11
TRI: 4,10 / 4,6,10,11 / 2,4,6,10,11
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Belmont Park:
BEL Race 10 The Jockey Club Gold Cup G1 (5:49 ET)
2 Orb   9-2
6 Flat Out   3-1
7 Palace Malice   4-1
8 Cross Traffic   5-2
Analysis: Orb earned a career top speed fig in a third place finish in the Travers (G1) last out at the Spa which was his first start off a 2 1/2 month break. I do not think he was fully cranked and looks capable of moving forward off that effort. He was only beaten 3/4 of a length by Will Take Charge, who came back to win the Pennsylvania Derby (G2) in his next outing. It looks as if the colt will get an honest pace to run at here and gets four pounds from his elders. Three-year-olds have won this race three times in the last seven years, the last being Summer Bird in 2009. Javier Castellano gets his first leg up on the Kentucky Derby (G1) winner as regular jockey Joel Rosario is out with a broken bone in his foot and Jose Lezcano, who rode him last out gets reunited with Ron the Greek.
Flat Out is seeking to become the first three time winner of the race since Kelso, who won the race five times in a row between 1960 and 1964. The seven year old is coming off a game effort in a head loss in the Woodward (G1) at the Spa behind gate to wire winner Alpha, who was taking advantage of a racing strip that was kind to speed. The Bill Mott trainee loves the main track here, winning five of six with a third. He beat Stay Thirsty and Fort Larned in last year's running of the race, with the latter coming back to win the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) in his next outing.
Palace Malice did not have the best of trips in a fourth in the Travers. The colt stumbled coming out of the gate, came with a four wide bid and finished up well, beaten just 3/4 of a length for the top spot and beaten a nose by Orb for third. The colt earned a career top speed fig two back winning the Jim Dandy (G2) at Saratoga, showing his upset win at 14-1 in the Belmont Stakes (G1) was no fluke. He is proven over the main track and the distance is not an issue. His sire Curlin won this race in back to back years.
WIN: #2 to win at 7-2 or better.
EX: 2,6 / 2,6,7,8
TRI: 2,6 / 2,6,7,8 / 2,5,6,7,8
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Santa Anita Park:
SA Race 10 The Awesome Again G1 (5:30 PT)
4 Jeranimo   12-1
9 Summer Hit   8-1
10 Mucho Macho Man   3-1
2 Golden Ticket    5-1
Analysis: I thought Jeranimo might be in the mix at a price in the Pacific Classic (G1) last out on poly but checked in a disappointing ninth after winning the Eddie Read (G1) on turf two back. This guy has never raced on conventional dirt, but doe shave a dirt pedigree, by Congaree out of a Jeblar mare. This guy was in a few tough spots on turf including running into Wise Dan and Obviously. The main contenders in here all have question marks and we should catch a generous price on this guy. If he takes to dirt he could be in the mix here at nice odds.
Summer Hit also has not raced on dirt, winning three times on turf and five times on the fake stuff. He earned a career top last out winning the Brubaker at Del Mar over poly. He has won eight of his 13 career starts and makes his third start of his current form cycle here. He is in good hands with the Jerry Hollendorfer barn and Maldonado sticks. Worth a look if he goes off near his 8-1 morning line.
Mucho Macho Man tracked the early pace, came with a four wide bid and could not get to the top pair last out in a  third place finish in the Whitney Handicap (G1). The five-year-old caught a racing strip that was kind to inside speed that day. Cross Traffic came back to run earlier today in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) at Belmont Park. His career top speed fig came over the surface here last year when he ran second in the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1). He has a couple of good drills over the surface and Stevens takes the call.
WIN: #4 to win at 6-1 or better.
EX: 4,9 / 2,4,9,10
TRI: 4,9 / 2,4,9,10 / 2,4,7,9,10
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: #9 Branded Hand   15-1
R3: #3 Survival   12-1
R4: #2 Luxury Appeal   8-1
R5: #6 Lady Cohiba   15-1
R5: #5 Centring   8-1
R7: #5 The Lumber Guy   8-1
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.
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