Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:58 AM

At the Gate - Saturday

The Belmont Stakes (G1) lost a major contender as trainer Bob Baffert announced yesterday that Game Winner will not make the trip to New York.

Baffert plans on pointing him toward the Travers (G1) at Saratoga on Aug. 24 and likely will get a prep into the 2018 champion juvenile in June or July.

That brings the prospective field down to nine led by Tacitus and War of Will, but we are likely going to see some changes to the field over the next week.

The holiday weekend is upon us and we have some good stakes action to look forward to. The feature at Belmont Park today is the $100,000 Paradise Creek.

I am looking for Mucho to take to the turf. The Bill Mott trainee was fourth in the Bay Shore (G3) last out and this will be his first trip in the afternoon on grass. He has a couple of sibs that have won on turf.

The feature at Monmouth Park this afternoon is the $200,000 Monmouth (G2) going 1 1/8 miles on turf which drew a field of eight and of course Chad Brown is well represented.

Brown’s Almanaar gets the call as he makes his first start since a sixth in the Fort Lauderdale (G2) at Gulfstream Park back in December. Brown knows how to get them ready to go off the bench.

We have racing on Monday and we will take a look at New York Showcase Day with six stakes at Belmont Park and we have three Grade 1 races at Santa Anita including the Gold Cup at Santa Anita for the handicap division.

My Best Plays for Saturday includes my eight strongest plays from Belmont Park and Monmouth Park.

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

BEL Race 1 Md Sp Wt (1:30 ET)
#3 No Nay Maybe 9-5
#2 Karak 4-5
#5 Now Is 7-2
#4 Lucky E 15-1

Analysis: No Nay Maybe is one of two in here sent out by eh Ward barn that has won with 16 of 31 juvenile first time starters going back the last three months, but they have been getting hammered in the betting as these two will. Our top pick is by No Nay Never out of a stakes placed Danehill mare that has dropped four winners including one turf winner. Decent works on the miring tab and the barn finds a soft spot for these two firsters.

Karak was a $385,000 Ocala purchase, by Karakontie out of a Mujadil mare that ash dropped two foals to race including stakes winner Aqua Frio ($191,007). This gal take son the boys and has a lighter work tab than her stablemate.

Wagering
WIN: #3 to win at 8-5 or better.
EX: 3 / 2,5
TRI: no play

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

BEL Race 9 The Paradise Creek (5:51 ET)
#7 Mucho 3-1
#2 Fog of War 8-5
#4 Pole Setter 9-2
#1 Strike Silver 6-1

Analysis: Mucho makes his first career start on turf here for the Bill Mott barn. Last out the colt chased the early pace while down along a dead rail and weakened to finish fourth in the Bay Shore (G3). This guy broke his maiden in his second career start last summer at the Spa and then was a game second in the Hopeful (G1), beaten just 3/4 of a length by Mind Control. The colt is out of a Blame mare that has dropped four other winners and two have won on turf. The colt sports a couple of turf drills for Mott who is 13% winners moving runners from dirt to turf. This looks like a good spot as he makes just his third start of the year.

Fog of War is making his first start since winning the Summer (G2) at Woodbine last September in his second career start at 6-5. He beat War of Will in that outing, that foe coming back to win the Preakness Stakes (G1) last week. The Brown trainee came from off the pace to break his maiden in his debut going 5 1/2 furlongs on good ground at the Spa. He is out of the stakes winner Say ($158,325) who has dropped one other runner, stakes winner Naval Intelligence ($52,349). Brown hits at a 29% clip with runners coming back off a +180-day layoff.

Pole Setter dueled for the early lead and battled on to beat Alw-1 optional claimers by a hard fought nose last out in the slop at Keeneland. He broke his maiden on turf at Ellis Park going a mile in his debut and then was sixth in the Kentucky Downs Juvenile and this will be his first trip on turf since. He has a couple of sibs that have also won on turf. The Cox barn is 26% winners with runners going from dirt to turf.

Wagering
WIN: #7 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 2,7 / 1,2,4,7
TRI: 2,7 / 1,2,4,7 1,2,4,7,8

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

MTH Race 9 The Salvatore Mile G3 (4:31 ET)
#3 Diamond King 5-2
#2 Sunny Ridge 2-1
#6 Hoffenheim 10-1
#8 Bal Harbour 4-1

Analysis: Diamond King dueled for the early lead, took over the lead and cold not match strides late with the winner in a runner up finish in the Charles Town Classic (G2). The winner Runnin'toluvyais a WV bred who came back to beat on-conditioned allowance foes in his next outing at Charles Town on May 23, his 12th win in 16 starts. The Servis trainee makes his third start off the bench here. He won the Federico Tesio last year and was beaten just a couple of noses in the Oklahoma Derby (G3) last September. The cut back to a mile suits this guy.

Sunny Ridge raced at the back early while saving ground and came up the inside to rally for third in the slop going a one turn mile. He has won just cone in his last 11 starts, taking the State Dinner last July at Belmont Park. He was beaten just a length in the Kelso Handicap (G2) and was third in the Cigar Mile (G1). His best puts him right in the mix in this spot.

Wagering
WIN: #3 to win at 2-1 or better.
EX: 2,3 / 2,3,6,8
TRI: 2,3 / 2,3,6,8 / 2,3,6,8,9

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: #4 Lucky E 15-1
R2: #2 Flatexcel 8-1
R3: #1 Sayhellotomylilfrn 8-1
R5: #1 Jazzy J /1a Sheza Diva 8-1
R7: #10 Gunboat Diplomacy 10-1
R7: #7 Happy Music 12-1
R9: #6 Dr. Shane 8-1

Good luck today!

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