Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:03 AM

At the Gate - Saturday

We are down to two days left in the Belmont Park meeting and we have a solid 10-race card on tap including a good field in today’s feature, the $150,000 Forbidden Apple.

The race is not graded but drew a quality field led by Disco Partner, the defending champ. The Christophe Clement trainee set a world record last year winning the Jaipur (G3) and then he came right back to win the Forbidden Apple in his next start.

The six-year-old loves the turf extra firm and judging from the times on Friday he will get his wish. The 9-5 morning line looks fair on him but it is likely going to be south of that number and that had me looking elsewhere as you can see below.

I was very annoyed at Delaware Park for the controversy a couple of weeks ago where an assistant starter took a few punches at a horse in the starting gate and he is still at work, but I’ll look at the two graded stakes there. The marquee event of the summer at the track is the $750,000 Delaware Handicap (G2).

Elate is going to be the favorite but she is making her first start since a fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) as the beaten favorite.

We also will head out to Indiana Grand where four of the stakes made their way into today’s Best Plays Report. The $500,000 Indiana Derby (G3) is the richest race of their meeting.

They attracted no Triple Crown race alumni but both King Zachary and Blame the Rider appear to have enough talent to make some noise during the second half of the year.

Saturday’s Best Plays Report includes my 11 strongest plays from Belmont Park, Delaware Park and Indiana Grand including all of the graded stakes action.

To purchase my Belmont Park and Best Plays Reports for Saturday click here.

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

BEL Race 1 Md $40,000 (1:30 ET)

1 Lady of Miracles 2-1

9 Third Card Down 5-1

8 J C S Star 5-2

5 Day Wife 10-1


Analysis: Lady of Miracles drops in for a tag for the first time here for the Miceli barn. Last out the filly dueled for the early lead and tired to finish eighth going seven furlongs on turf in her first start off a 6 1/2 month layoff. The third-place finisher Dream passage returned to graduate in her next start on July 7 for a $40,000 tag. She is out of a Smart Strike mare that has dropped a pair of winners including one on turf. She should be tighter second off the bench and catches a pretty weak looking group here.

Third Card Down was not much of a threat in a fifth-place finish on the main track in her debut, sent off at 6-1 in a field of seven. She returns with blinkers and lasix added. She has a decent enough turf pedigree, by Freud out of a Grand Slam mare that has dropped two other foals to race, one dirt winner, Baker is 25% winners dropping runners form maiden special to maiden claiming. She has as much upside as any of this group.

Wagering
WIN: #1 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 1,9 / 1,5,8,9
TRI: 1,9 / 1,5,8,9 / 1,5,8,9,10

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

DEL Race 9 The Delaware Hcp G2 (5:35 ET)

5 Unbridled Mo 5-2

6 Elate 2-1

3 Mopotism 9-2

1 Teresa Z 10-1


Analysis: Unbridled Mo stalked the early pace and did not have enough punch left late in a third-place finish in the Ogden Phipps (G1) at Belmont Park. The mare won the Apple Blossom (G1) two back over a wet track at Oaklawn Park. The mare won both of her two starts last year including the Doubledogdare (G3) at Keeneland. She has not tired 1 1/4 miles but has the pedigree, by Uncle Mo out of an Unbridled mare.

Elate makes her first start since being the beaten favorite in the Breeders' Cup Distaff (G1) where she checked in fourth. She won the Alabama (G1) and Beldame (G1) last year and missed in the CCA Oaks (G1) by just a head. The Alabama was at today's distance. Mott is 17% winners with runners coming back off a +180-day layoff. It's not an easy spot and her price is going to be on the light side.

Wagering
WIN: #5 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 5,6 / 1,3,5,6
TRI: 5,6 / 1,3,5,6 / 1,3,5,6,9

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

BEL Race 9 The Forbidden Apple (5:50 ET)

7 Projected 3-1

2 Disco Partner 9-5

1 Mr Havercamp 8-1

6 Pocket Change 6-1


Analysis: Projected stalked the early pace while saving ground, had to wait for some running room briefly at the quarterpole and finished up well for third in the Monmouth (G2). Two back off a six-month layoff the Brown trainee made a good late rally to finish in the runner up spot in the Dangers Hero behind repeat winner Fire Way, who came back to win the Dixie (G3) in the slop in his next outing at Pimlico. This guy earned three straight triple digit Beyers last year including a neck loss in the Poker (G3). He appears to have the best shot of beating the favorite.

Disco Partner is the defending champ in this race and came into it last year off a win in the Jaipur (G3) where he set a world record. He won the Jaipur again this year and ow stretches back out to a mile. He has won 8 of his 12 trips over the turf here and if he went off at 9-5 I'd like him more but guessing he is going to be a much shorter price here. Clement has been on a roll recently and the six-year-old makes his third start of his current form cycle.

Wagering
WIN: #7 to win at 3-1 or better.
EX: 2,7 / 1,2,6,7
TRI: 2,7 / 1,2,6,7 / 1,2,4,6,7

Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Indiana Grand:

IND Race 9 The Indiana Derby G3 (9:48 ET)

2 Blame the Rider 6-1

8 King Zachary 6-5

4 Dark Vader 8-1

6 Axelrod 6-1


Analysis: Blame the Rider was cross entered in the Kent (G3) at Delaware Park and the barn elected to ship him here to return to dirt. The colt set the early fractions and could not go with the winner in a runner up finish in the Rainbow at Santa Anita going nine furlongs on turf. O’Neill thought enough of this guy after a third in his third career start to try him in the Robert B. Lewis (G3) while still a maiden. He was not a threat in an eighth-place finish and graduated two starts later on turf going a mile. The $320,000 Ocala purchase is by Jimmy Creed out of the stakes winner Shiny Sheet ($543,422) who has dropped seven other runners, all winners, top earner Sunshine Rambler ($281,839). O’Neill won this race last year with Irap.

King Zachary ran huge winning the Matt Winn (G3) last out at Churchill Downs by 4 ¾ lengths and earning the top last out speed fig which was 19 points higher than his previous career best. He graduated in his third career start at Gulfstream Park going two turns and then was sixth in a nine horse field in the Wood Memorial (G2). The colt was a $550,000 Keeneland purchase by Curlin out of a Giant’s Causeway mare that has dropped one other winner. If he runs back to his last effort he will be tough to beat but if he regresses he could have his hands full at a very short price.

Dark Vader bobbled coming out of the gate, was sent up to press the early pace and he finished gamely in a third-place finish in the Easy Goer, beaten a neck and a nose. The runner up Rugbyman came back to finish fourth in the Dwyer (G3) in his next outing. The Eurton trainee ran third in the Lewis in his three-year-old debut and then was fifth in the Sunland Derby (G3). He earned a solid number beating Alw-1 optional claimers two back at Santa Anita before shipping to New York for the Easy Goer. He owns a solid pace profile throughout and should get a good tracking trip sitting just off the pace. Decent value if he goes off near his 8-1 morning line.

Wagering
WIN: #2 to win at 4-1 or better.
EX: 2,8 / 2,4,6,8
TRI: 2,8 / 2,4,6,8 / 1,2,4,6,8

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: #5 Day Wife 10-1
R2: #11 Smart Throb 10-1
R3: #1 Hushion 15-1
R4: #9 Karma Delight 12-1
R5: #12 Paynter’s Prize 12-1

Good luck today!

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