Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:58 AM

At the Gate - Thursday

The three-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival kicks off on Thursday, with 18 stakes races on tap over the next three days highlighted by the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (G1) on Saturday.

We have no Triple Crown up for grabs and the “two” Kentucky Derby “winners” Country House and Maximum Security are on the sidelines.

But who cares? We have eight, count ‘em, EIGHT Grade 1 races on Saturday’s 13 race card.

We kick off on Thursday with three stakes. The $200,000 Wonder Again (G3) starts things off in the third race. Newspaperofrecord is the 1-5 morning line favorite and looking to rebound after losing for to first time last out in her runner up finish in the Edgewood (G3) at Churchill Downs off a six-month layoff.

The Chad Brown trainee was perfect last year, capping off her season by winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1). I despise using the term “free square” in the early Pick 4 and Pick 5, but there you have it.

The $150,000 Astoria drew nine two-year-old fillies that will go 5 ½ furlongs on the main track. Trainer Wesley Ward said he likely will scratch Dixie Mo from the race to go on Friday.

Mark Casse sends out a pair including the 5-2 morning line favorite Perfect Alibi, but his other runner Reiterate (6-1) looks live at a better price.

The $200,000 Intercontinental (G3) is for fillies and mares going seven furlongs on the turf. A competitive field of 10 line up led by a trio of Chad Brown contenders.

The trio are Significant Form (2-1), forth in the Winter Memories last out, Zonza (8-1) a Group 3 placed filly overseas who was fourth against Alw-3 foes at Keeneland in her U.S. debut, and Stella di Camelot (7-2) who makes her first start since a fifth in the Mrs. Revere (G2) last fall at Churchill Downs.

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To purchase my Belmont Park Report for Thursday click here .

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

BEL Race 1 OClm $25,000N1X (3:05 ET)
#1 He's No Lemon 8-1
#3 Hierarchy 8-5
#2 Pillar Mountain 5-2
#4 Kulin Rock 9-5

Analysis: He's No Lemon came back off a 3 1/2 month break last out to face winners for the first time. The gelding stalked the early pace and came with a good late rally to finish third, beaten 1 3/4 lengths at this distance at Churchill Downs. He graduated two back at Tampa at this distance. The Motion trainee looks capable of moving forward off his last effort which should put him in the mix here at a decent price considering the short field. A nice pedigree on this guy and Castellano picks up the call.

Hierarchy stalked the early pace and came with a mild late rally to finish in the runner up spot last out going 1 1/4 miles over yielding ground here off a three-month break. He looks headed in the right direction for the Shug barn and he does not need to move forward much off his last effort to win here. He fits but our top pick looks a bit more suited pedigree wise to handle the distance and is going to be a better price.

WIN: #1 to win at 5-1 or better.
EX: 1 / 2,3
TRI: no play

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

BEL Race 8 The Intercontinental (6:46 ET)
#9 Broadway Run 5-1
#8 Fire Key 9-2
#2 Significant Form 2-1
#7 Raven's Lady 10-1

Analysis: Broadway Run stalked the early pace and finished gamely to miss in the License Fee by a nose to our second choice. The filly was making her first start off a 4 1/2-month break. She has not run a bad one, landing in the money in all seven starts with a pair of wins and losing two photos. The Terranova barn is 24% winners (with a +ROI) with runners making their second start off a 45-180-day layoff. She sat off the pace last out but has shown good early speed in some of her prior starts and there is not a ton of speed signed up to go here.

Fire Key set the early fractions in the License Fee and held on to win by a nose. The mare was making her first start for the Ryerson barn and caught yielding footing she likes as her last three wins have come on yielding ground. She has done some of her best running here, landing in the exacta in six of eight trips. She may be better sitting off the pace as she is rarely up front. On the stretch to seven furlongs she should be in the first flight in this spot.

WIN: #9 to win at 7-2 or better.
EX: 8,9 / 2,7,8,9
TRI: 8,9 / 2,7,8,9 / 2,4,5,7,8,9

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#1 He’s No Lemon 8-1
R2: #2 Shamrock Kid 12-1
R3: #5 Chocolate Kisses 8-1
R3: #1 Kelsey’s Cross 12-1
R4: #3 My Happy Place 8-1
R5: #7 Catch a Bid 8-1
R6: #6 Topper T 8-1
R7: #8 Twirling Owen 8-1
R8: #7 Raven’s Lady 10-1

Good luck today!

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