Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:58 AM

At the Gate - Thursday

The 4th of July is here, and it is hard to believe that there is not a single graded stakes race on tap this afternoon. We have a nine-race card at Belmont Park with the $100,000 Manila the feature.

A field of nine three-year-olds will line up in the Manila, a one-mile test on turf. The Todd Pletcher trained Clint Maroon is the 3-1 morning line favorite. The gelding won the Woodhaven at Aqueduct in April and was fifth in the Pennine Ridge (G3) in his last outing.

Among his foes is Win Win Win, who was ninth in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and seventh in the Preakness (G1). He makes his turf debut and has a decent enough turf pedigree.

I landed on Fog of War who makes his second start of the layoff for the Chad Brown barn. The colt was a disappointing sixth in the Paradise Creek last out off the bench. He won his first two career starts including the Summer (G1) at Woodbine.

We have two stakes on the card on Friday at Belmont Park and then we have the Stars & Stripes program on Saturday that features five graded stakes.

The highlights are the $1 million Belmont Derby Invitational (G1) and the $750,000 Belmont Oaks Invitational (G1).

The past performances were not up yet as I write this on Wednesday night. The Derby drew a field of 15 with 14 headed to the gate while the Oaks drew a field of nine.

The supporting stakes on the card are the $250,000 Dwyer (G3) for three-year-olds on the main track at a mile, the $300,000 John A. Nerud (G2) for three-year-olds and upward at seven furlongs and the $700,000 Suburban (G2) for older runners going 1 ¼ miles. The Nerud is a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1).

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

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 Clm $50,000N3L (1:30 ET)
#2 Like What I See 4-1
#4 Pagliacci 3-5
#6 Corot 9-2
#1 Zap Daddy / 1a Poker Game 8-1

Analysis: Like What I See came off an eight-month layoff last out with a solid effort, a close up third at Monmouth Park against NJ bred Alw-2 optional claimers. This guy is a stakes winner on the fake stuff and stakes placed on grass. The Kimmel trainee should be tighter second off the bench and is going to need to move forward off his last effort to beat the chalk in here. He draws the rail and owns solid early and mid pace numbers. Bravo sticks and figures to send him early.

Pagliacci made a mild late run to finish fourth last out at 8-1 against Alw-2 optional claimers here off a two-month break. His last win on turf came at a mile versus Alw-1 foes three back at Gulfstream Park. Mott has found a great spot for him here tagged for $50,000 and facing non-winners of three but the price is going to be very much on the light side.

WIN: #2 to win at 3-1 or better.
EX: 2,4 / 2,4,6
TRI: no play

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

BEL Race 8 The Manila (5:18 ET)
#6 Fog of War 9-2
#7 Win Win Win 7-2
#8 Clint Maroon 3-1
#4 Pole Setter 9-2

Analysis: Fog of War was the beaten chalk last out in the Paradise Creek where he tracked the early pace and weakened to fish sixth, beaten 3 /2 lengths. It was his first start since last year where he won his first two career starts. He broke his maiden on turf going 5 1/2 furlongs at the Spa and then won the Summer (G1) at Woodbine at a mile. He adds blinkers and stretches back out to a mile here for the Brown barn that is 30% winners with runners making their second start off a +180-day layoff. He has a nice pedigree, out of the stakes winner Say ($158,325). No way this guy goes off at his 9-2 morning line, we will have to settle for less.

Win Win Win makes his turf debut here for the Trombetta barn that is 18% winners (with a +ROI) moving runners from dirt to turf. He makes his first start since a seventh in the Preakness (G1) at Pimlico. He ran big winning the Pasco back in January and was third in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) and second in the Blue Grass (G2) before his ninth in the Kentucky Derby (G1). He has a decent turf pedigree, by Hat Trick out of a Smarty Jones mare that has dropped two other dirt winners but no turf winners.

WIN: #6 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 6,7 / 4,6,7,8
TRI: 6,7 / 4,6,7,8 / 2,4,6,7,8

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: #1 Zap Daddy / 1a Poker Game 8-1
R3: #2 Maimo 8-1
R5: #4 Green Light Go 8-1
R6: #8 Bellamy Road 8-1
R9: #7 Vinda Machine 8-1

Good luck today!

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