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At the Gate - Saturday

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We have one of the better cards we have seen over the past couple of weeks at Belmont Park on Saturday, the nine-race card featuring a pair of stakes and several other wide-open races.
 
The early Pick 5 has been paying well despite having a couple of short fields early in the five-race sequence on most days recently. On Friday, we had the Tremont as the third race with a short field of four.
 
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Saturday’s sequence has fields of 9-8-7-10-12 horses and three of the races are maiden special weight affairs. The payoff should be very generous today.
 
The $100,000 Wild Applause kicks off the stakes action in the seventh race with a field of eight three-year-old fillies going a mile on turf. We have a pair of Euro invaders that figure to take some betting action, but the morning line favorite Sweet Acclaim looks tough.
 
The Chad Brown trainee is coming off seconds in the Appalachian (G2) at Keeneland and the Wait a While over the turf at Belmont Park in her two starts since coming state side.
 
The feature is the $150,000 Bed o’ Roses Handicap (G3) for fillies and mares that drew a wide-open field of 11. My selections and analysis are below.
 
My Best Plays for Saturday include my eight strongest plays from Belmont Park and Santa Anita including all of the stakes action. The feature out west is the $200,000 Summertime Oaks (G3) for three-year-old fillies.
 
To purchase my full card reports for Belmont Park and Best Plays for Saturday click here.
 
Here is today’s opening from Belmont Park to get the day off to a good start:
 
BEL Race 1 Md Sp Wt (1:20 ET)
8 Spanish Armada   5-2
6 Thank You   12-1
1 Beauty Sisters   7-2     
2 Lamontagne   4-1
 
Analysis: Spanish Armada tracked the early pace toward the inside and finished evenly in a third place finish last out in his debut over the turf here at 5-2 in a field of seven. The $210,000 Keeneland purchase goes for the Pletcher barn that is 31% winners with second out maidens. A solid pedigree, by War Front out of a Saint Ballado mare that has dropped three winners including one turf winner.
 
Thank You may get overlooked here with Pletcher having a runner and Ward with two. This guy debuts for the underrated Mareina barn that is 19% winners (with a +ROI) with first timers. The gelding is by Congrats out of a stakes placed Noactor mare that has dropped five winners including one turf winner, top earner stakes winner Omniscient ($368,671).
 
Wagering
WIN: #8 to win at 2-1 or better.
EX: 6,8 / 1,2,6,8
TRI: 6,8 / 1,2,6,8 / 1,2,4,6,8
 
Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Belmont Park:
 
BEL Race 9 The Bed o' Roses G3 (5:20 ET)
7 Calistoga   12-1
8 Merry Meadow   4-1
5 Hot Stones   8-1
10 Street Girl   7-2
 
Analysis: Calistoga looks primed for a top effort here for the Bill Mott barn. The filly caught a sloppy track last out off a two-month break and beat Alw-2 optional claimers in a sharp effort. The filly showed a ton of promise last year, breaking her maiden at Gulfstream Park earning a solid figure and then beating Alw-1 optional claimers in her first start against winners last March in gate to wire fashion. She was the beaten favorite in last year’s Eight Belles (G3) at Churchill Downs where she was outrun early and came with a wide rally to finish fourth, beaten 1 ½ lengths. After coming back off a nine-month layoff it took a couple of trips for Mott to get her cranked and she looks very capable of moving forward off her last start. Worth a good look if she goes off near her 12-1 morning line.
 
Merry Meadow tracked the early pace and finished strongly to win the Vagrancy Handicap (G3) last out over three foes. She was making her first start off nearly a three-month break for the Mark Hennig barn. She has now landed in the exacta in six of her seven trips over the Belmont Park main track. The filly owns a solid pace profile throughout and she should get a god trip sitting not too far off what could be a lively early pace.
 
Hot Stones cuts back from a mile where the filly broke outward and lost her footing coming out of the gate, tracked the early pace but could not get past the talented La Verdad in the state-bred Critical Eye. La Verdad was winning for the eighth time in 10 career starts. The fourth place finisher in that race was Tahoe Tigress, who came back to beat state-bred Alw-2 optional claimers in her next outing here on Thursday. Trainer Bruce Levine adds blinkers here and she has three wins at six furlongs so the cut back in distance should not pose a problem. The state-bred filly is stepping up into graded stakes company for the first time here, but comes into the race off a career best.
 
Wagering
WIN: #7 to win at 6-1 or better.
EX: 7,8 / 5,7,8,10
TRI: 7,8 / 5,7,8,10 / 4,5,7,8,10
 
Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Santa Anita:
 
SA Race 8 The Summertime Oaks G2 (4:30 PT)
1 Jojo Warrior   3-1
3 Arethusa   7-2
4 Delta Flower   5-2
5 La Mejor Fiesta   6-1
 
Analysis: Jojo Warrior was the beaten favorite last out in the Miss Preakness where the Baffert trainee was bumped coming out of the gate, steadied when caught in tight near the 5/8's and made a mild late rally while five wide to finish third. The fourth and fifth place finishers in the race both won next out. She stretches out to two turns for the first time and has plenty of pedigree to handle the extra ground. The barn is 29% winners (with a +ROI) moving runners from sprint to route.
 
Arethusa also made her last start at Pimlico where she checked in sixth in the Black Eyed Susan (G2) over a wet track. She makes her third start of her current form cycle and three back she was a good third in the Las Virgenes (G1) over the main track here behind the talented Fashion Plate. She should get some pace to run at here.
 
Wagering
WIN: #1 to win at 2-1 or better.
EX: 1,3 / 1,3,4,5
TRI: 1,3 / 1,3,4,5 / 1,3,4,5,8
 
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.
 
Belmont Park
R1: #6 Thank You   12-1
R2: #4 Thatza Wrap   12-1
R4: #3 Pie’s First Lady   8-1
R5: #7 Charitable   10-1
R5: #3 Giant Slayer   12-1
R6: #4 Frazil   10-1
R7: #8 Courtesan   10-1
R7: #1 My Jolie   12-1
R8: #8 Tidal Slam   12-1
R9: #7 Calistoga   12-1
R9: #5 Hot Stones   8-1
R10: #7 Socialsaul   12-1
 
Good luck today!

  
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  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.
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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Jerry "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.

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