Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:04 AM

At the Gate - Thursday

A field of eight was entered for Saturday night’s $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) which will be televised live on the NBC Sports Network from 8:30 ET to 10:00 ET.

There are five graded stakes on the 11-race card at Churchill Downs and Triple Crown winner Justify will make an appearance on track.

The Stephen Foster is a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) which will be held at Churchill Downs this fall. The $200,000 Fleur De Lis Handicap (G2) is a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1).

The supporting features are the $100,000 Matt Winn (G3), $200,000 Wise Dan (G2) and the $100,000 Regret (G3).

Justify is the early betting favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Classic and his connections will get a first hand look at several of the top horses in the handicap division that will be pointed toward the year end championship race.

The Chad Brown trained Backyard Heaven has won three in a row, winning the Alysheba (G2) in his stakes debut in his last start with a 105 Beyer.

He faces a solid group that includes Irish War Cry, last year’s Belmont Stakes (G1) runner up and Lookin At Lee, who was the runner up in last spring’s Kentucky Derby (G1).

Others in the field include last year’s Foster runner up Honorable Duty, Belmont third place finisher Patch and Pavel who was fourth in the Gold Cup (G1) and Dubai World Cup (G1) in his last two starts.

I will have selections and analysis for all of the graded stakes from Churchill Downs in Saturday’s Best Plays Report.

To purchase my Belmont Park Report for Thursday click here .

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

BEL Race 1 Md Sp Wt (1:30 ET)
#7 Damselfly 8-1
#3 Princess Pinky 2-1
#2 She's Trouble 5-2
#1 All Right With Me 7-2

Analysis: Damselfly is the bigger price of the two Nevin firsters in here and this gal is bred to win early. She is by Bustin Stones (16% winners with debut runners) out of a More Royal mare that has dropped eight foals to race with seven winners. Works including a bullet drill on June 3. The barn is 8% winners with first timers.

Princess Pinky was a $275,000 purchase, by Ghostzapper out of a Birdstone mare, her first foal to race. She also has worked quickly for her debut today, a bullet drill on June 3. Johnny V takes the call for Nevin and the duo hit at a 28% clip (with a +ROI) together although the trainer does use Franco more and he is on our top pick. She looks ready to go but our top pick is likely going to offer more value for the top spot.

WIN: #7 to win at 5-1 or better.
EX: 3,7 / 1,2,3,7
TRI: 3,7 / 1,2,3,7 / 1,2,3,6,7

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

BEL Race 8 Alw $77,000N1X (5:18 ET)
#8 Silver Shaker 2-1
#6 Complicit 9-2
#2 Ladrona 3-1
#4 Rose Velvet 7-2

Analysis: Silver Shaker makes her first start since last November for the Brown barn that is 31% winners (with a +ROI) with runners coming back off a +180 day layoff. The filly graduated here going 1 1/4 miles in her fourth career start and then ran well in two starts at this level, a close up third followed by a runner up finish last out before hitting the sidelines. She is out of a stakes place Silver harm mare that has dropped five other winners including a pair of stakes winners, top earner Praetereo ($712,682).

Complicit is also sent out by Brown. The filly was a game maiden winner in her last outing, her first start off the bench. She was sin the mix in all three of her starts last year and looks as if she still has some upside. She is out of a Giant's Causeway mare that has dropped three other turf winners. Brown is 21% winners with runners making their second start off a +180 day layoff.

WIN: #8 to win at 9-5 or better.
EX: 6,8 / 2,4,6,8
TRI: 6,8 / 2,4,6,8 / 2,3,4,6,8

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: #7 Damselfly 8-1
R7: #9 La Cat Warrior 8-1
R7: #5 Diamond Dean 15-1
R9: #6 Bartletts Mark 10-1

Good luck today!

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