At the Gate – Friday

We got the week off to a good start at Belmont Park yesterday with four winners on top on the nine-race card including Harlan’s Hunch, who took the field gate to wire at an overlaid price, returning $18.60.

The holiday weekend is upon us and do not forget we have racing on Monday, which is Memorial Day. There is plenty of great stakes action on tap including 14 graded stakes, three of which come Saturday at Santa Anita.

We will head out to Santa Anita and include the stakes action in my Best Plays Report. Among the races is the $500,00 Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1).

The race along with the Santa Anita Handicap (G1) has taken a hit in recent years with the advent of the Pegasus World Cup (G1) and Dubai World Cup (G1), no longer the high profile races they once were a couple of decades ago.

The Gold Cup used to be called the Hollywood Gold Cup and has been won by many greats including Seabiscuit, Citation, Swaps, Round Table, Native Diver, Ferdinand, Cigar, Real Quiet, Lava Man and Game On Dude.

We have seven going to the post in this year’s edition led by City of Light, the 2-1 morning line favorite. The colt won the Oaklawn Handicap (G2) by a neck over Accelerate in his last outing.

The co-features on Saturday’s card at Santa Anita are the $200,000 Charlie Whittingham (G2) and the $300,000 Gamely (G1), both on turf.

The feature at Belmont Park on Saturday is the $100,00 Paradise Creek which drew a field of six, including a main track only entrant. The Todd Pletcher trained Gidu is the even money morning line favorite.

To purchase my Belmont Park Report for Friday click here.

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

BEL Race 1 Clm $16,000N2L (1:30 ET)
#3 Moment of Triumph 1-1
#1 Bridge of Sighs 5-2
#4 Stars Wilburn 8-1
#2 Formal Event 7-2

Analysis: Moment of Triumph
ships in from Kentucky where last out at Keeneland the filly made a mild late rally to finish fourth against $20,000 non-winners of two going 6 1/2 furlongs. She has tended to land for minor shares with seven thirds but now she makes her first start for the Diodoro barn that is 20% winners first off the claim and he took this gal off a 6% outfit. She has been better on the fake stuff, breaking her maiden at Turfway Park but she catches a really weak group here tagged for $16,000.

Bridge of Sighs goes turf to dirt after missing by just a nose last out at Tampa Bay Downs at this level. She graduated on the main track there three back for a $12,500 tag. The barn is showing a 0 for 12 mark moving runners from turf to dirt but catches a soft group here and looks sharper than most of these.

WIN: #3 to win at 4-5 or better.
EX: 1,3 / 1,3,4
TRI: no play

Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Belmont Park:

BEL Race 8 Alw $65,000N1X (5:18 ET)
#9 Shiraz 2-1
#8 Forward Motion 7-2
#3 Outrageous Bet 5-1
#4 Looking Ready 5-2

Analysis: Shiraz
finished gamely in a runner up finish over good ground here last out in his first start off an 8 1/2 month layoff. The gelding is 0 for 7 at this condition but earned a near career top off the bench for Maker. His career best came in a third in the Cutler Bay last April at Gulfstream Park going a mile. He also ran third in the Dania Beach (G3) at 7 1/2 furlongs. The barn is 23% winners (with a +ROI) with runners making their second start off a +180 day layoff.

Forward Motion came off a four-month break and broke his maiden last out over good ground at Aqueduct going six furlongs on turf. The gelding made two starts last year, rallying to finish third in his debut on turf and then dueling for the early lead and weakening to finish fifth going a mile on the main track. He needs to move forward a couple of lengths to get into the mix here but looks as if he still has some upside.

WIN: #9 to win at 9-5 or better.
EX: 8,9 / 3,4,8,9
TRI: 8,9 / 3,4,8,9 / 1,3,4,8,9

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: #4 Stars Wilburn 8-1
R2: #3 Chattel 8-1
R4: #6 Northernstreetgal 8-1
R5: #8 All Clear 12-1
R6: #1 Sheputsaspellonme 10-1
R9: #3 Divide 12-1
R9: #1 Sargent Drive 15-1

Good luck today!