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Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 14:01 PM

At the Gate - Saturday

There is no shortage of stakes action on Saturday with Empire Showcase Day at Belmont Park featuring eight stakes for New York breds and 11 stakes at Laurel Park for Maryland Million Day.

As a Maryland bred myself, I no longer handicap Laurel Park and Pimlico on a regular basis. I was looking forward to finding some winners on Saturday, and I have to admit that is one really tough card.

I managed to come up with five races and have included them in my Best Plays Report for this afternoon.

I really like today’s Belmont Park card and we have 11 races and plenty of races with large fields which will make hitting the Pick 4 and Pick 5 tough but if can get it done we should get rewarded nicely.

The $300,000 Empire Classic drew a competitive field of 11 including the defending champion Twisted Tom, who is 10-1 on the morning line and coming off back to back double-digit losses.

I went looking for a price with Control Group (10-1), who looks capable of turning the tables on a couple of foes he faces again after a third last out in the state bred Evan Shipman. In that outing he was dueled into defeat while catching a racing strip that was not kind to inside speed that day.

In the preceding race the ladies go in the $250,000 Empire Distaff Handicap with a dozen set to go 1 1/16 miles on the main track.

Again, I found a decent price on a contender that raced against the track bias that day. I’ll give Split Time (10-1) a good look after the filly was beaten just a nose and a head when third in the state bred Fleet Indian in her last outing.

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

My Best Plays Report for Saturday includes my 10 strongest plays from Belmont Park and Laurel Park.

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 (12:30 ET)
#4 Crack Shot 5-2
#6 Wacky Pal 7-2
#1 Bobby Man 3-1
#10 Le Gros Bill 12-1

Analysis: Crack Shot debuts for the Englehart barn that is 17% winners (with a +ROI) with first time starters. The colt has been working quickly in the mornings and sports a couple of gate drills including a bullet drill on Oct. 6 over the main track here. The $110,000 purchase is by Freud out of a Cherokee Run mare that has dropped one other foals to race no winners to date. A decent enough turf pedigree and she looks ready to go.

Wacky Pal also has decent works and is sent out by the Abreu barn that is 19% winners (with a +ROI) with firsters. The $67,000 Ocala purchase is out of a Rahy mare that has dropped two foals to race, both winners including one turf winner. Castellano takes the call for the former Chad Brown assistant.

WIN: #4 to win at 2-1 or better.
EX: 4,6 / 1,4,6,10
TRI: 4,6 / 1,4,6,10 / 1,4,6,8,10

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

BEL Race 10 The Empire Classic (5:23 ET)
#3 Control Group 9-2
#10 Pat On the Back 5-2
#8 Sea Foam 12-1
#4 Can You Diggit 7-2

Analysis: Control Group dueled for the early lead and could not go with the top pair late in a third-place finish in the state bred Evan Shipman at the Spa, beaten 1 1/2 lengths for the top spot. The colt caught a racing strip that was playing to outside stalkers and closers that day. The RRod trainee was second in this race last year and then won the Discovery 'Cap (G3) in his following outing, the first of three stakes wins in a row. He looks headed in the right direction and three back rolled to a big win at Finger Lakes in the slop earning a career top speed fig. He looks capable of turning the tables today and the cut back to a one turn race here suits him.

Pat On the Back exits the same race as our top pick. The colt tracked the early pace while four wide and finished gamely, just missing by a neck. He won the state bred Saginaw two back for his lone win this year but he has run well in each of his last four trips since starting off the year catching a muddy track. The Englehart trainee owns a solid pace profile throughout and has done some of his best running here where he has landed in the money in all seven trips.

Sea Foam prompted the early pace and weakened to finish fifth in the Oklahoma Derby (G3) at Remington Park last out, beaten 2 1/4 lights. This guy has won three state bred stakes against three-year-olds this year and this is his first test against older. Three-year-old have held their own in this race, winning it in four of the last nine runnings. He needs to pick up his numbers to be competitive, but he owns solid early and mid pace numbers and certainly has enough pedigree to handle nine furlongs. Worth tossing in the mix here if he goes off near his 12-1 morning line.

WIN: #3 to win at 7-2 or better.
EX: 3,10 / 3,4,8,10
TRI: 3,10 / 3,4,8,10 / 3,4,5,8,10

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

LRL Race 11 The MD Million Classic (5:37 ET)
#7 Saratoga Bob 3-1
#9 Admiral Blue 7-2
#4 Flash McCaul 6-1
#3 Clubman 9-2

Analysis: Saratoga Bob was bumped coming out of the gate and finished evenly in a fifth-place finish in the off the turf Find last out which was his stakes debut. Two back against restricted company he came with a good late rally to finish in the runner up spot her going six furlongs. This will be his first trip around two turns and he has a decent enough pedigree and a running style that says it may serve him well. He is back with Prado who was aboard this guy for both of his wins. This year's edition did not come up very tough and this guy looks as if he still has some upside.

Admiral Blue ships in from NY for the RRod barn. He makes his first start since an okay third at the Spa going nine furlongs in a race taken off the turf against $50,000 non-winners of three. He has one start over the main track here and that was a fourth in the HE Johnson Memorial here back in March at nine furlongs. His numbers in his last three starts look good enough to beat this group.

WIN: #7 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 7,9 / 3,4,7,9
TRI: 7,9 / 3,4,7,9 / 2,3,4,7,9

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: #10 Le Gros Bill 12-1
R3: #10 Tapitation 10-1
R5: #4 Munchkin Money 8-1
R7: #10 Short Pour 15-1
R7: #4 She’s Trouble 8-1
R8: #5 Just Right 15-1
R8: #4 Bankit 8-1
R8: #3 Strive for a Cure 15-1
R9: #9 Split Time 10-1
R9: #7 English Soul 10-1
R9: #6 Frostie Anne 8-1
R10: #8 Sea Foam 12-1
R11: #7 Newport Breeze 10-1
R11: #8 Mam Mary 10-1

Good luck today!

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