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Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 14:02 PM

At the Gate - Saturday

We are off to our one day a year trip to Parx Racing for a pair of $1 million races, the Pennsylvania Derby and the Cotillion, but don’t look for a trifecta recommendation.

I have been critical of the slots fueled track for years as they have a ridiculous 30% takeout rate on trifecta and superfecta betting, only Penn National at 31% higher in all of the U.S.

For a track that gets their purses fueled by slot machines, to be charging 30% to its customers is outrageous and I make sure I remind all horseplayers each year on social media.

Today is really the only day most horseplayers pay any attention to the track, and we do have two important races that serve as Breeders’ Cup preps without actually being Win and You’re In races.

The Pennsylvania Derby drew a field of 10 led by the returning McKinzie, who makes his first start since getting disqualified from the win in the San Felipe (G2) at Santa Anita back in March.

I landed on Hofburg, who figures to be the second choice in the betting. I do not think we have seen the best out of his Bill Mott trainee and hoping it is today.

The Cotillion drew a solid field of fillies led by Monomoy Girl who is seeking her sixth win in a row. She has won four Grade 1 races in a row and has won eight of her nine career starts in her career. Her lone loss came in the Golden Rod (G2) at Churchill Downs where she ran second.

The filly is going to be 2-5, so I am going to look at Midnight Bisou, who has lost twice to the chalk this year but the cut back in distance may suit her and she is going to offer more value if she goes off near her 5-1 morning line.

Now is the perfect time to purchase my Monthly Package for just $99.95. It gives you a month of Belmont Park daily and my Best Plays Report each Saturday and Sunday.

My Best Plays Report for Saturday includes my eight strongest plays from Belmont Park and Parx Racing.

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

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

BEL Race 1 Md Sp Wt (1:30 ET)
#3 Halladay 3-1
#6 War Detonator 5-2
#8 Junkanoo 3-1
#2 The Other Kessler 12-1

Analysis: Halladay stretches out to a route and tries grass for the first time here for Pletcher. The colt was third in two trips at the Spa in races washed off the turf. Those should have him fit and ready to go here and he is bred to go long and handle turf. He is by War Front out of the stakes winner Hightap ($300,345) who has dropped four other foals to race with three winners and a pair that have won on turf. The barn is 17% winners moving runners from dirt to turf and the barn looks on back on track here.

War Detonator is one of two firsters in here sent out by the Brown barn that is 19% winners with first time starters. This colt is by War Front out of the stakes winner Diva Spirit ($90,565), her first foal to race. Solid work tab including a quick gate drill on Sept. 9 over the training track here and he looks ready to go at first asking.

Wagering
WIN: #3 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 3,6 / 2,3,6,8
TRI: 3,6 / 2,3,6,8 / 1,2,3,6,8

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

BEL Race 8 The Kelso Handicap G2 (5:18 ET)
#6 Patternrecognition 9-2
#1 Battle of Midway 2-1
#7 Sunny Ridge 3-1
#2 Timeline 8-1

Analysis: Patternrecognition makes his stakes debut here for the Chad Brown barn off a game win versus Alw-2 optional claimers last out going seven furlongs over a wet track at the Spa. His one go at a mile came at the Big A last November and produced a win versus Alw-1 company and a career top speed fig. The five-year-old has made just nine starts in his career, landing in the exacta in eight of those outings. He owns solid early and mid pace numbers and the extra furlong here should suit him. The Brown barn is 29% winners moving runners from sprint to route.

Battle of Midway makes his second start off the bench here for the Hollendorfer barn. Last year's Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1) winner bobbled coming out of the gate last out in the Pat O'Brien (G2) at Del Mar off the bench. he was sent up to prompt the early pace and proved no match for the undefeated Catalina Cruiser. The colt sports a couple of bullet works on the morning tab since his last outing and this guy fires every time out, the lone sub par effort in his debut a sixth in the nine-furlong Haskell Invitational (G1) last summer. He figures to move forward second off the bench, but his price is likely going to be shorter than his 2-1 morning line.

Sunny Ridge cuts back from nine furlongs where the gelding came with a six wide bid and had no punch left late in a ninth-place finish in the Woodward (G1) at the Spa. He earned a career top speed fig two back winning the State Dinner over the main track here. The cut back to a one turn mile will suit this Servis trainee. He has run well in all three of his trips over the main track here.

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

Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Parx Racing:

PRX Race 11 The Pennsylvania Derby G1 (5:45 ET)
#2 Hofburg 3-1
#8 McKinzie 5-2
#6 Axelrod 5-1
#3 Instilled Regard 15-1

Analysis: Hofburg was last early and came with a good middle move taking command while four wide and drawing off to win by five lengths in the restricted Curlin and did it over a racing strip that was kind to inside speed that day. This guy ran second in the Florida Derby (G1) in just his third career start and had a rough trip in a seventh-place finish in the Kentucky Derby (G1). He came back with a better effort in the Belmont (G1) where he rallied for third. I do not think we have seen the best out of this Mott trainee yet and that could be today. Blinkers are added, and the colt has posted back to back bullet works. With the hood added I expect to see this guy closer to the pace here if Irad is smart enough to realize this colt can be.

McKinzie returns off the bench here for the Baffert barn that has won this race twice in the last five years, last year with West Coast and in 2014 with Bayern. The colt was last seen getting DQ’d from the win in the San Felipe (G2) at Santa Anita in March in a controversial decision. He won his first three starts including getting put up in the Los Al Futurity (G1) last December in his first start against winners. The Baffert barn is 23% winners with runners coming back off a +180-day layoff. In Grade 1 races dating back five years Baffert is 4 for 12 (with a +ROI) with runners coming back off a +180-day layoff.

Axelrod is the lone runner in the field with a win over this surface taking the Smarty Jones last out by four lengths in a good looking effort. He was not off cleanly, had to wait for some running room around the far turn, angled out widest and finished with a flourish for the win. He won the Indiana Derby (G3) two back by a head in a game effort with a career top speed fig. The McCarthy trainee appears capable of moving forward off his last pair of starts and that can put him in the mix here at a decent price.

Wagering
WIN: #2 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 2,8 / 2,3,6,8
TRI: No play with 30% trifecta takeout.

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: #2 The Other Kessler 12-1
R4: #6 Thundering Sky 12-1
R5: #10 Toga 10-1
R5: #5 The Vow Is Lit 12-1
R6: #9 Canarsie Kid 8-1
R6: #2 Get a Valentine 8-1
R8: #2 Timeline 8-1
R9: #3 Questeq 8-1
R9: #11 Tiz Priceless 10-1
R9: #7 Scat Gal 10-1

Good luck today!

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