Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:04 AM

At the Gate - Saturday

As expected, it was a quagmire on the main track at Pimlico on Friday, sloppy conditions and a soft turf course. Despite the track superintendent stating all races were going to be on the turf, four were moved to the main track.

There is a glimmer of hope for Saturday as the forecast now calls for the rain to taper off mid -afternoon. The racing strip dries out pretty quick, but with both Justify and Good Magic showing they can handle a wet track, as far as the Preakness itself goes it probably does not matter.

My main worry is the six turf races on Saturday. They are among some of the best wagering races on the day, and I am guessing track management will do whatever it takes to make sure they go on turf to avoid an abundance of scratches.

The Preakness goes through Justify and he is going to be every bit of his 1-2 morning line. Just about every talking head is proclaiming Justify the winner, Good Magic running second and the only debate is who runs third and fourth to complete the trifecta and superfecta.

I am not sure it is that easy, and Good Magic may end up offering the best value if we see close to his 3-1 morning line. He needs to make up 2 ½ lengths on the Derby winner, but the colt looks headed in the right direction and Chad Brown is calling the shots. Don’t forget he saddled last year’s Preakness winner Cloud Computing.

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Here is the opening race from Belmont Park to get the day off to a good start:

BEL Race 1 Md Sp Wt (12:50 ET)
#5 Mertz 5-2
#1 Romani / 1a Abyssinian 7-5
#7 Ma Meatloaf 3-1
#6 Pioneerof New York 6-1

Analysis: Mertz put in a promising effort in her debut, setting the early fractions and unable to hold off the winner late in a runner up finish at 7-2 in a field of eight. The filly was down along a deep inside that day. She should move forward if the track is wet. She is by Ghostzapper out of the stakes winner Vitameta ($80,700), her first foal to race.

Romani debuts for the Ward barn that has been on a roll with his juvies the last few months. He has hit with 14 of his last 27 (with a +ROI) two-year-old firsters. This gal was a $50,000 purchase out of a Indian Charlie mare that ash dropped one other foal to race, no winners to date. Entrymate Abyssinian showed good early speed and could not match strides late with the winner in a runner up finish. She is out of a stakes placed Tapit mare, her first foal to race.

Wagering
WIN: #5 to win at 2-1 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 Belmont Park:

BEL Race 9 The Soaring Softly G3 (5:33 ET)
#8 Africa 3-1
#5 Elevenses 8-1
#1 March X Press 9-2
#9 Brattata 4-1

Analysis: Africa tracked the early pace and finished gamely to just miss in the Mizdirection last out at Aqueduct going six furlongs on turf, beaten a head. It was her first go since a sixth in the Ms Grillo (G3) last October which as her U.S. debut. She will appreciate the extra ground here and should be tighter second off the bench for Brown. She handed good to soft ground in France last summer.

Elevenses tracked the early pace and finished gamely to win the Any Limit at Gulfstream Park on the main track in her last outing. She makes her turf debut here for the Jerkens barn that is 25% winners (with a +ROI) with runners trying the weeds for the first time. She has a solid turf pedigree, by Speightstown out of the stakes winner Cougarstown ($101,723). She figures to take to turf and fits well her if this comes off the turf as she is bred to handle a wet track.

Wagering
WIN: #8 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 5,8 / 1,5,8,9
TRI: 5,8 / 1,5,8,9 / 1,3,5,8,9

Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Pimlico:

PIM Race 12 The Sir Barton (5:39 ET)
#2 Pony Up 7-2
#6 Dream Baby Dream 8-1
#8 Ax Man 8-5
#10 Prince Lucky 10-1

Analysis: Pony Up was last in the early going and came with a good late rally to finish third in the Lexington (G3) while the winner My Boy Jack was closing even faster for the win. Two back our top pick was beaten just a neck in the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) on the fake stuff at Turfway Park. The winner Blended Citizen came back to finish fifth in the Blue Grass (G3) and then won the Peter Pan (G3). The Pletcher trainee is going to get a solid early pace to run at and she has a solid enough off track pedigree.

Dream Baby Dream made a good late rally to finish in the runner up spot in the Sunland Derby (G3) two back but did not show that same late foot versus much tougher in the Arkansas Derby (G1) where he checked in seventh. The Asmussen trainee is another in here that should benefit from a sharp early pace and he has a decent off track pedigree. His lone start on a wet track was a third versus Alw-1 optional claimers three back. He may still have some upside with the right race flow and is going be a decent price in this spot.

Ax Man ran huge beating Alw-1 optional claimers last out at Santa Anita by 8 1/2 lengths. He likely goes off at even money here and with pace pressure and an off track may be worth trying to beat.

Wagering
WIN: #2 to win at 3-1 or better.
EX: 2,6 / 2,6,8,10
TRI: 2,6 / 2,6,8,10 / 2,6,8,10,11

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
R3: #8 Gio d’Oro 8-1
R9: #5 Elevenses 8-1

Good luck today!

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