Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:58 AM

At the Gate - Friday

We have five graded stakes on tap on Saturday night at Churchill Downs highlighted by the $600,000 Stephen Foster (G2) which drew a field of 12.

Several of the top runners in the handicap division will square off under the twin spires including Gift Box, the 3-1 morning line favorite.

The John Sadler trainee seems to be getting better with age, earning a career top speed figure last out in a runner up finish in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1), beaten three-quarters of a length by Vino Rosso. He has landeddin the exacta in eight straight starts including winning the Santa Anita Handicap (G1) two back.

Yoshida (7-2) is a Grade 1 winner on dirt and turf and was my top pick in last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). He came up short in that race, rallying to finish fourth, beaten 1 ¾ lengths. Last year he won the Old Forester Turf Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs and won the Woodward (G1) on the main track at Saratoga.

Seeking the Soul (4-1) has done some of his best running over the Churchill Downs main track. He won the 2017 Clark Handicap (G1) and last fall won the Ack Ack (G3) and then ran a good second to City of Light in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1).

The Foster is a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).

Other stakes on the card, which gets underway at 6:00 ET are the $150,000 Regret (G3), $250,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap (G2), $250,000 Wise Dan (G2) and the $150,000 Matt Winn (G3).

I will include the stakes action in Saturday’s Best Plays Report.

Now is the perfect time to purchase my Monthly Package for just $99.95. It gives you a month of Belmont Park daily and my Best Plays Report each Saturday and Sunday.

To purchase my Belmont Park Report for Friday click here.

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

BEL Race 1 Md $40,000 (1:30 ET)

4 Fika 4-1

1 Handle With Care 6-1

2 Tempers Way 7-5

3 Joule 10-1


Analysis: Fika makes her first start since last November for the Sharp barn that is 30% winners (with a +ROI) with runners coming back off a +180-day layoff. She made three starts last year, her best effort a fourth in her lone go on turf. She is dropping in for a tag for the first time here and catches a soft spot. She has a decent enough turf pedigree, out of a stakes placed Smart Strike mare, her first foal to race.

Handle With Care was bumped and pinched back coming out of the gate and finished evenly in a fifth-place finish last out behind a couple of foes she runs into again here. She returns with blinkers added and two back she ran well for this tag off a six-month layoff. She was a good second behind repeat winner Grand Banks, who beat $30,000 non-winners of two on May 25.

Wagering
WIN: #4 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 1,4 / 1,2,3,4
TRI: 1,4 / 1,2,3,4 / 1,2,3,4,6

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

BEL Race 8 OClm $62,500N2X (5:18 ET)

8 Pollara 1-1

2 Romantic Moment 5-1

3 Proud O'Paddy 12-1

1 Violet Blue 7-2


Analysis: Pollara makes her first start since an eighth-place finish in the Long Island (G3) last November at the Big A. She made her U.S. debut two back in the E.P. Taylor (G10 where she was sixth beaten 3 1/4 lengths. She won a Group 3 at Chantilly last June in her third career start. The Brown barn is 28% winners with a runner coming back off a +180-day layoff. She drops into an easier spot and is going to be tough here at a light price.

Romantic Moment stalked the early pace and made a mild late rally to finish fourth last out at this level going a mile over good ground. She stretches out three furlongs here and she graduated at nine furlongs. Pedigree wise she should be able to handle the extra ground. She is out of the stakes winner Kiss the Devil ($381,629) who has dropped two other turf winners and a pair of stakes winners, top earner Kiss Moon ($535,689).

Wagering
WIN: #8 to win at 6-5 or better.
EX: 2,8 / 1,2,3,8
TRI: 2,8 / 1,2,3,8 / 1,2,3,4,8

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: #3 Joule 10-1
R3: #1 Storm Rider 10-1
R4: #7 Big Thicket 8-1
R5: #1 Best Surprise Ever 10-1
R7: #9 Threatlovesmidnite 10-1
R7: #8 Bustin Shout 8-1
R8: #3 Proud O’Paddy 12-1

Good luck today!

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