Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:04 AM

At the Gate - Thursday

The Belmont Stakes Racing Festival kicks off on Thursday afternoon and we have three stakes on the nine race card to get the week off to a good start.

A field of eight juvenile fillies go to the post in the $150,000 Astoria at 5 ½ furlongs on the main track, the first of 18 stakes over the next three days of action culminating with the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (G1) on Saturday.

Trainer Wesley Ward sends out a pair in the Astoria—Wonder Stone (5-2) and Athens Queen (8-1), both maiden winners in their debuts. Ward has been on fire at the meeting, hitting at a 39% clip.

The Simon Callaghan trained Tijori is the 7-5 morning line favorite and was a sharp gate to wire winner in her debut at Santa Anita.

The $200,000 Intercontinental (G3) drew a field of 10 fillies and mares that will go seven furlongs on the turf. The Graham Motion trained Lady Alexandra is the 2-1 morning line favorite off her win in the License Fee going six furlongs off the layoff. She won that race at 8-1 with Stormy Victoria the 4-5 beaten favorite and she is back looking for revenge.

Ward sends out Delectation (9-2) who makes her second start off the bench. She made up ground late to finish fourth in the Turf Sprint (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs in her last start.

Another to keep an eye on is La Sardane (20-1) who beat second level optional claimers for trainer Neil Drysdale. She won a Group 2 in France last June and is going to be a generous price.

The $200,000 Wonder Again (G3) drew a field of 10 three-year-old fillies that will go 1 1/8 miles on the inner turf course. It is a wide open race with Chad Brown sending out a trio of runners including my top pick Altea (8-1). My analysis is below.

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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 (2:00 ET)
#2 Wild Road 4-1
#5 Throw the Deuce 7-2
#4 Whiskey Run 3-1
#3 Fair Archer 10-1

Analysis: Wild Road was not off cleanly when he made his debut on the main track at Churchill Downs and was not a threat in a fifth-place finish, sent off at 12-1 in a field of six. Now the $130,000 Ocala purchase is in with state breds and tries grass. He has a solid enough turf pedigree, by Quality Road out of a War Chant mare, her first foal to race. Geroux takes the call for the Stewart barn and the colt put in a near bullet drill on June 2. Looking for a much better effort here on the class drop.

Throw the Deuce stalked the early pace and made a mild late rally to finish fourth last out, beaten two lengths over good ground. It was his first start off a 5 1/2 month layoff. He showed some ability last year with a third din his debut and a second in his third career start. Irad sticks for the Morley barn that is 16% winners with runners making their second start off a 45-180 day layoff. The gelding is out of a Storm Boot mare that has dropped six other foals to race, five winners including one turf winner.

WIN: #2 to win at 3-1 or better.
EX: 2,5 / 2,3,4,5
TRI: 2,5 / 2,3,4,5 / 2,3,4,5,8

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

BEL Race 8 The Wonder Again G3 (5:48 ET)
#1 Altea 8-1
#5 Significant Form 8-5
#9 La Signare 6-1
#8 Daddy Is a Legend 7-2

Analysis: Altea is one of three in here sent out by the Chad Brown barn. The filly was off last and came with a good five wide rally to finish fifth, beaten 1 3/4 lengths for the top spot in a good effort. Two back in her U.S. debut at Tampa Bay Downs in the Florida Oaks she came from far out of it to just miss by a head and a nose in a third-place finish. She makes her third start of her current form cycle and gets a stretch out to nine furlongs which should suit her. She also should get a bit more pace to run at then she did in her first two trips state side. Castellano takes over from Ortiz who sticks with the Brown's recent maiden winner Mighty Scarlett.

Significant Form is also sent out by Brown and this gal took the field gate to wire to win the Memories of Silver last out at the Big A in her first start off a 5 1/2 month layoff. She showed a ton of talent last year winning the Ms Grillo (G3) in her first start against winners and then was fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) behind her stablemate Rushing Fall, who came back to win the Appalachian (G2) at Keeneland and miss in the Edgewood (G3) at Churchill Downs by a neck in her last start. The $575,000 Ocala purchase showed last year she does not need the lead and out of a Harlan's Holiday mare that also has dropped stakes winner Hay Dakota ($237,4450 who should not have an issue with the added distance.

La Signare ran second against Alw-1 foes in her U.S. debut of the Lynch barn. The filly had to steady in traffic on the first turn and came with a good late run to finish just a half-length short of getting to the winner Toinette. The winner came back to win the Edgewood (G3) in her next start while the fourth-place finisher Punked came back to beat Alw-1 foes here in her next outing on May 13. This gal makes just her fourth career start and is going to get overlooked in the betting.

WIN: #1 to win at 4-1 or better.
EX: 1,5 / 1,5,8,9
TRI: 1,5 / 1,5,8,9 / 1,2,5,8,9

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: #3 Fair Archer 10-1
R3: #5 Ascot Walk 8-1
R5: #7 Glad Moon 15-1
R6: #4 Lady Apple 8-1
R7: #2 La Sardene 20-1
R8: #1 Altea 8-1
R9: #11 Ballston 12-1

Good luck today!

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