Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:58 AM

At the Gate - Saturday

The negative buzz surrounding the Kentucky Oaks (G1) favorite Bellafina was on target, as the filly did not show her usual gusto and came up empty in the stretch in a fifth-place finish yesterday.

I thought the race was ripe for a longshot or two, and I went with Positive Spirt, who went off at 45-1 and Street Band as my second choice and went off at 25-1.

Longshots did indeed complete the trifecta at 13-1, 38-1 and 10-1. Serengeti Empress took the field gate to wire and returned $28.00 with Liora competing a $2 exacta that paid $439.20.

My top pick Positive Spirt was squeezed back coming out of the gate, clipped heels and unseated her rider Manny Franco. I think it hurt me more than Franco because he was up off the main track at Churchill Downs much quicker than I was up off my office floor after seeing the incident.

I have been worried all week about the weather but did not anticipate the main track at Churchill Downs being fast by post time for the Oaks while Belmont Park cancel their card after the fifth race due to heavy rainfall.

More rain was in the forecast for Friday right into Saturday morning in New York. With six of the dozen races on the Belmont Park card scheduled for the turf, I threw in the towel for Saturday’s card. That is an unprecedented move for me, but we have 14 races at Churchill Downs to zero in on this afternoon.

The Kentucky Derby (G1) field is down to 19 with the scratch of Haikal, who was 30-1 on the morning line.

It did not rain in Louisville overnight but there is more rain in the forecast starting at 9:00am and now the forecast for the remainder of the day calls for a 35-45% chance of showers.

That is less than originally forecast, but that is not a surprise as I swear, I think the National Weather Service just uses a dart board to predict the forecast.

Improbable was taking some early action in the betting and was the favorite in the Will Pays for the Oaks/Derby double. I still think Game Winner will likely go off as the tepid favorite.

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Here is the opening race from Churchill Downs to get the day off to a good start:

CD Race 1 OClm $80,000N3X (10:30 ET)
#3 Curate 5-2
#2 Control Stake 5-2
#6 Mr. Chow 2-1
#5 Kowboy Karma 10-1

Analysis: Curate prompted the early pace and finished gamely to miss by just a nose last out to Wentz at this level at Keeneland in the mud. The gelding was 7 1/2 lengths clear of the rest of the field in the effort. He came off a 3 1/2 month break to beat Alw-3 optional claimers two back at Oaklawn Park in a sharp effort. The Cox trainee is bred top and bottom to handle a wet track and he certainly had no issues with the mud last out and he beat Alw-2L foes in the slop last fall. He owns a solid pace profile throughout and looks very tough. Likely going to have to settle for less than his 5-2 morning line.

Control Stake stalked the early pace and could not make u any ground in the stretch in a fourth-place finish in the Hot Springs last out at Oaklawn Park over a wet track. The winner Whitmore was the runner up in the Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) last fall. The runner up Share the Upside came back to beat Alw-3 optional claimers in his next start while the third-place finisher Welder won a couple of stakes at Will Rogers Downs in his next two starts. The gelding has run okay on off tracks but does have a habit of landing for minor shares throughout his career.

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

Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Churchill Downs:

CD Race 11 The Old Forester Turf Classic G1 (5:25 ET)
#1 Qurbaan 8-1
#12 Bricks and Mortar 5-2
#9 Synchrony 8-1
#2 Raging Bull 5-1

Analysis: Qurbaan tracked the early pace, may have moved a bit soon and did not have enough punch in the final furlong in a third-place finish in the Makers 46 Mile (G1) last out at Keeneland going a mile. His lone trip at nine furlongs came three back in the Ft. Lauderdale over good ground where he rallied to finish in the runner up spot, earning a career top speed fig. Blinkers go on and I like the jock switch here to Smith. He should move forward off his last effort and the 8-1 morning line looks more than fair. He has shown he can handle ground with some give to it.

Bricks and Mortar tracked the early pace and finished gamely to win the Muniz Memorial 'Cap (G2) at Fair Grounds last out on form footing at nine furlongs. The Brown trainee has been lights out in three starts since returning off a 14-month layoff. He has not won 7 of his 9 starts and handled yielding ground winning the Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) two back. This guy is going to be very tough, but he does draw an outside post and is going to be shorter than his 5-2 morning line.

Synchrony also exits the Muniz where he made a good late run to finish third, beaten 1 3/4 lengths for the top spot. He won the Fair Grounds 'Cap (G3) two back off a 2 1/2-month break. He makes his third start of his current form cycle here for the Stidham barn. He has run decent on less than firm footing, running third in this race last year over yielding turf that was closer to soft. The barn is 20% winners when adding the hoof. Johnny V. picks up the call.

WIN: #1 to win at 9-2 or better.
EX: 1,12 / 1,2,9,12
TRI: 1,12 1,2,9,12 / 1,2,9,10,12

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.

Churchill Downs
R1: #5 Kowboy Karma 10-1
R3: #8 I’m Looking Up 10-1
R4: #8 Yousaiditall 10-1
R5: #5 Hungry Kitten 12-1
R6: #6 Emboldened 8-1
R7: #9 Environs 8-1
R8: #4 Bobby’s Wicked One 10-1
R9: #2 Social Paranoia 10-1
R9: #5 Seismic Wave 8-1
R10: #8 Manny Wah 10-1
R10: #7 Mr. Money 12-1
R10: #12 Everlast 20-1
R11: #1 Qurbaan 8-1
R11: #4 Synchrony 8-1
R12: #8 Tacitus 8-1
R12: #13 Code of Honor 12-1
R13: #1 Limonite 10-1
R13: #2 Get the Prize 10-1
R14: #3 Morning Social 10-1

Good luck today!

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