Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:58 AM

At the Gate - Saturday

We whiffed in the Black Eyed Susan (G3) yesterday at Pimlico as my fourth choice Point of Honor got the job done but we still ended up with a nice day with six recomended exactas.

The payoffs were $44.20, $33.60, $28.40, $27.60, $53.80, and $22.80. That’s a good warm up for Preakness Day.

There is no Triple Crown up for grabs, and the “two” Derby winners are not in Baltimore. In fact, the first four that crossed the wire under the twin spires are nowhere to be found.

That won’t stop us. There is a 14-race card on tap today with eight stakes. There are 144 horse entered for this afternoon’s card, with plenty of full fields, outstanding betting races, and a few million up for grabs in the betting pools

The Preakness over the past decade has not exactly been a great betting race, but this year we have a fairly wide-open field of 13.

Four wheel back out of the Derby including the duo that will likely go off as the top betting choices—Improbable and War of Will.

Improbable stalked the early pace in the slop in the Derby, had to wait for some running room briefly losing a spot or two on the far turn and had a clear path in the stretch but could only make a mild bid to finish fifth (placed fourth), beaten 3 1/4 lengths.

War of Will took the worst of it in the bumping incident at the 5/16th's. Maximum Security veered in starting a chain reaction. It looked for a second as if the colt would go down, but jockey Tyler Gaffalione righted his mount and it looked as if he would go on, but instead he weakened to finish eighth while beaten 4 1/2 lengths.

Win Win Win and Bodexpress also come back, while we have eight new shooters to the Triple Crown.

The buzz horse appears to be Bourbon of War, who is 12-1 on the morning line but is going to end up a lighter price. He was fourth in the paceless Florida Derby (G1) in his last outing.

In the Black Eyed Susan-Preakness double, Point of Honor on Friday won and returned $7.80. The $1 will pays are showing the payout if Improbable wins is $16, War of Will is $23, and Bourbon of War is $26.

My Best Plays for Saturday includes my 11 strongest plays from Belmont Park and Pimlico.

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

PIM Race 1 Md $25,000 (10:30 ET)
#6 Fernwood Drive 7-2
#2 Friendly Fire 4-1
#1 Shelly Island 12-1
#4 No Worries Mate 5-1

Analysis: Fernwood Drive tries turf for the first time her in his third career start. The colt showed speed in his debut before weakening to finish sixth against maiden special weight foes. He returned dropping in for a $40,000 tag last out where he was sent off at 6-5 but tired to finish sixth after dueling for the early lead. Reid comes back with the 10-pound bug and this guy has a decent enough turf pedigree. He is by Distorted Humor out of a Gilded Time am that has dropped one other foals to race, no winners to date.

Friendly Fire just missed in his debut on turf, prompted the early pace and battling on gamely to miss by just a head. The gelding was sent off at 9-2 in his debut in a field of 10. Trombetta hits at a 17% clip (with a +ROI) with second out maidens. He does not need to move forward much off his last effort to be in the mix in this spot. He is the first foal to race out of a Gators N Bears mare, a bit light in turf pedigree.

WIN: #6 to win at 3-1 or better.
EX: 2,6 / 1,2,4,6
TRI: 2,6 / 1,2,4,6 / 1,2,4,6,8

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

BEL Race 11 The Soaring Softly G3 (5:26 ET)
#2 Feel Glorious 3-1
#3 Stillwater Cove 5-2
#7 Entirely 6-1
#6 Eyeinthesky 5-1

Analysis: Feel Glorious is perfect in two starts since coming state side and landing with the Clement barn. She beat Alw-1 optional claimers two back off the bench at a mile and then won the Memories of Silver at Aqueduct going 1 1/6 miles, trailing a slow pace and finishing full of run. It looks like this gal will be able to handle the cut back to seven furlongs. She broke her maiden in a 17-horse field at Goodwood last summer at six furlongs. The barn is 31% winners (with a +ROI) moving runners from route to sprint.

Stillwater Cove prompted the early pace, took over the lead and could not match strides late with the winner in a runner up finish in the Limestone Turf Sprint last out at Keeneland going 5 1/2 furlongs on good turf. It was her first go off a five-month layoff. She won the Bolton landing at the Spa last summer in her third career start going 5 1/2 on the turf at the Spa. She should be tighter second off the shelf for Ward.

WIN: #2 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 2,3 / 2,3,6,7
TRI: 2,3 / 2,3,6,7 / 1,2,3,6,7

Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Pimlico:

PIM Race 12 The Dixie G2 (5:39 ET)
#11 Inspector Lynley 7-2
#12 Catholic Boy 3-1
#2 Just Howard 10-1
#3 Admission Office 12-1

Analysis: Inspector Lynley tracked the early pace and finished gamely to win the Dangers Hour last out at the Big A going a mile. Two back he checked in sixth beaten 3 1/2 lengths in the Muniz Memorial (G2) behind Bricks and Mortar, who returned to w the Old Forester Turf Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs in his next outing. Three back the Shug trainee won the Tampa Bay (G3) at this distance. He should be able to work out a good tracking trip and has the recency edge over our second choice who is coming back off the bench.

Catholic Boy faded to finish a well beaten 13th in the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) last out in a disappointing effort. He ran twice on turf last year including winning the Belmont Derby (G1) last July. He has won four of his five trips on the lawn in his career. He is in good hands with the Thomas, a former assistant to Todd Pletcher and Christophe Clement. The trainer is 19% winners with runners coming back off a +180-day layoff. He has solid looking works on the morning tab and looks ready to fire off the sidelines, but his price may end up lighter than his 3-1 morning line.

WIN: #11 to win at 4-1 or better.
EX: 11,12 / 2,3,11,12
TRI: 11,12 / 2,3,11,12 / 2,3,10,11,12

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.

Belmont Park
R1: #2 Ok Honey 15-1
R3: #9 I’llhandlealthecash 12-1
R5: #8 Great Going 8-1
R7: #6 Theaterintheround 12-1
R8: #7 Playthatfunnymusic 10-1
R9: #8 Game Break 8-1
R10: #11 Archumybaby 8-1
R12: 32 Sounds Good 8-1

Good luck today!

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