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Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 13:59 PM

At the Gate - Saturday

It is opening night at Churchill Downs and we are just six days away from Oaks Day and seven days away from Derby Day.
 
I have included four races from Churchill Downs in today’s Best Plays Report and to be honest I had a tough time finding playable races as the card is not really that great.
 
It is the second day of the Belmont Park spring/summer meeting and yesterday was a washout with rain knocking all the races off the turf.
 
There is a 90% chance of rain today but there is going to be a gap without, and it is going to be windy, so I am taking an optimistic outlook and hoping we remain on the turf. There are six races scheduled for the grass this afternoon.
 
The feature at Belmont Park is the $125,000 Elusive Quality at seven furlongs on the outer turf. Seven line up led by the 2-1 morning line favorite Krampus, who won the Canadian Turf (G3) on March 2 but regressed in his last outing in a seventh-place finish in the Appleton (G3), both of those starts coming at Gulfstream Park.
 
Big Handsome gets the call if we catch most of his 9-2 morning line. He was a good second at Fair Grounds last out on turf and has run well over the Belmont Park turf course with four exacta finishes in five trips.
 
We have a late post time of 6:00 ET at Churchill Downs to kick off the meeting. The feature is the $125,000 William Walker at five furlongs on turf.
 
Eight will head to the gate led by the undefeated Bulletin, winner of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint over the Churchill Downs turf course.
 
The Todd Pletcher trainee is going to be a puny price, but I could not find a viable option to beat him.
 
My Best Plays for Saturday includes my eight strongest plays from Belmont Park and Churchill Downs.
 
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 Kentucky Oaks, Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes Day Reports.
 
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 Clm $25,000 (1:30 ET)
#3 Blue Belt   2-1
#6 Candid Desire   6-5
#5 Sol the Freud   7-2
#4 Formal Start   8-1
 
Analysis: Blue Belt prompted the early pace, took over the lead heading for home and could not match strides late with the winner in a runner up finish at this level in his first start off the claim by the Schettino barn. He was claimed for this tag two back out of a runner up finish, previously with the Rice barn. The gelding owns solid early and mid pace numbers and it looks as if he should get the jump on the chalk in here and that could be enough to make the difference.
 
Candid Desire raced last early and came with a good late rally to finish in the runner up spot last out against state bred Alw-2 optional claimers. He is 0 for 3 since Martin claimed this guy for $25,000 but ran second twice, missing by just a neck three back. He is back in for a tag here, but the question is whether he gets some pace in front of him here.
 
Wagering
WIN: #3 to win at 2-1 or better.
EX: 3,6 / 3,5,6
TRI: no play
 
Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Belmont Park:
 
BEL Race 9 The Elusive Quality (5:51 ET)
#6 Big Handsome   9-2
#4 Krampus   2-1
#3 Emmaus   7-2
#5 Therapist   3-1
 
Analysis: Big Handsome veered outward coming out of the gate, stalked the early pace and came with a good late rally to finish in the runner up spot at Fair Grounds going 5 1/2 on firm ground against optional claimers. It was his first go off a nine-month layoff for the Tony D. barn that has been so quite the past two years. Back in '17 this guy reeled off three wins in a row including taking the Paradise Creek here at seven furlongs over good ground. He looks set to move forward off his return effort and the 9-2 morning line looks fair enough.
 
Krampus adds blinkers here after checking in seventh in the Appleton (G3) over good ground at a mile at Gulfstream Park. The gelding won the Canadian Turf (G3) two back at a mile and was up on the pace in that outing. He drops out of graded stakes and looks capable of handling his first career trip at seven furlongs. Mott has really weak numbers adding the hood, winning with just one of his last 31.
 
Wagering
WIN: #6 to win at 7-2 or better.
EX: 4,6 / 3,4,5,6
TRI: 4,6 / 3,4,5,6 / 2,3,4,5,6
 
Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Churchill Downs:
 
CD Race 8 The William Walker (9:39 ET)
#1 Bulletin   4-5
#8 Hartel   6-1
#3 Legends of War   6-1
#7 Abyssinian   7-2
 
Analysis: Bulletin is perfect in three starts, winning the Palasides Turf Sprint last out at Keeneland in his first start off a five-month layoff. He won both of his stakes last year, winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint here last November over yielding ground. There is some rain in the forecast which could make for less than form conditions. The Pletcher trainee should be fitter second off the bench and he has broken sharply in all three starts so the rail draw is not much of a worry.
 
Hartel returns off the layoff here for the Miller barn that is 22% winners (with a +ROI) with runners coming back off a +180-day layoff. He checked in fifth last out in the Speakeasy at five furlongs after a game second two back in the Del Mar Juvenile Turf. The winner of that race was King of Speed, who came back to win the Zuma Beach in his next outing on Oct. 8. The gelding sports sharp works and the barn does well off the bench. Worth tossing in the mix here if he goes off near his 6-1 morning line.
 
Wagering
WIN: #1 to win at 1-1 or better.
EX: 1,8 / 1,3,7,8
TRI: 1,8 / 1,3,7,8 / 1,3,6,7,8
 
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: #4 Formal Start   8-2
R2: #4 Simbasalltrouble   8-1
R5: Lem Me Tel Ya   10-1
R6: #10 Dream Friend   15-1
R8: #10 Overbold   10-1
R10: #2 Great Going   10-1
 
Good luck today!

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