Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:58 AM

At the Gate - Saturday

If you plan on playing the ponies today, make sure you stay hydrated. I have a 12 pack of Stella Artois on ice in my office in case I become parched.

Excessive heat warnings have knocked racing out throughout the country for Saturday. Belterra Park, Delaware Park, Ellis Park, Finger Lakes, Laurel Park, Parx Racing, and Saratoga have canceled racing on Saturday.

Laurel Park has already canceled Sunday’s card as well.

Monmouth Park plans on racing, and it is the biggest day of the meeting with the $1 million Haskell Invitational (G1) on tap. The temps are supposed to hit 96 degrees and the Heat Index is forecast to be 105 to 112.

Some, including our buddies at PETA are calling for the postponement of the card. The only problem with that is the high on Sunday is also supposed to be 96.

I am guessing management is hoping the forecast is wrong and there will be a breeze coming off the Atlantic Ocean that may cool things off. I am also guessing they may come to their senses and realize it may be better to be safe than sorry.

After all of the problems at Santa Anita this year, the industry does not want to have a horse in heat distress on NBC this afternoon.

Let’s hope the forecast is wrong and all the hoses come back safely. In addition to Monmouth Park, my Best Plays for Saturday include some of the action from Del Mar.

Now is the perfect time to purchase my Monthly Package. It gives you a month of Saratoga Reports daily and my Best Plays Report each Saturday and Sunday.

To purchase my Best Plays Report for Saturday click here.

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

MTH Race 12 The Haskell Invitational G1 (5:49 ET)

1 King for a Day 5-2

5 Mucho Gusto 2-1

7 Maximum Security 8-5

2 Joevia 10-1

Analysis: King for a Day spoiled Maximum Security’s return in the Pegasus last out. The Pletcher trainee prompted the early pace and got by the chalk in the stretch to win by a length at 6-1. The colt is perfect in two starts this year, winning the restricted Sir Barton at Pimlico on Preakness Day in his first start off a 5 ½ month layoff. He showed some ability last year as a juvenile breaking his maiden in his second career start and then running fourth in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs in the slop. The son of Uncle Mo appears to be primed for a top effort in his third start off the bench here. Pletcher has won this race three times, the most recent with Verrazano in 2013.

Mucho Gusto ships in form the west coast for Baffert who holds the record in this race, winning it eight times, most recently with American Pharoah in 2015. The colt earned a career top speed fig last out winning the Affirmed at 1 1/16 miles at Santa Anita, his fifth win in second career starts. He beat his stablemate Roadster in that outing. The colt has just one trip at nine furlongs, a third in the Sunland Derby (G3) at 4-5. The colt may not have been wound tight enough for that outing and is on the improve. He has enough pedigree to handle the distance, by Mucho Macho Man out of a Giant’s Causeway mare. The colt has worked sharply since his last outing and he should get a good tracking trip sitting just off the pace.

Maximum Security burned some cash last out in the Pegasus at 1-20, unable to hold off our top pick. The colt was making his first start since the Kentucky Derby (G1) where he was DQ’d for interference at the top of the stretch. He has earned four consecutive triple digit Beyers, including winning the Florida Derby (G1), not bad for a colt that broke his maiden for a $16,000 tag. His two works since his last outing are slow but that is not unusual for the Servis barn. The colt likely gets bet down from his 8-5 morning line and I don’t think he has nearly as much upside as his main two rivals in here.

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

Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Del Mar:

DMR Race 8 The San Clemente G2 (5:30 PT)

9 Maxim Rate 3-1

3 Mucho Unusual 7-2

8 Stillwater Cove 5-2

6 Over Emphasize 8-1

Analysis: Maxim Rate was the beaten favorite in the Honeymoon (G3) last out at Santa Anita going nine furlongs. The filly tracked the early pace and did not have enough punch left late in a fifth-place finish. She won the Senorita (G3) at a mile two back and missed in the Provedencia (G3) three back in her first start against winners by just a nose. She figures to bounce back with a better effort here on the cut back to a mile.

Mucho Unusual stalked the early pace and came with a good late rally to get up and beat Alw-1 optional claimers last out in her first start off a four-month layoff. She won the state bred Cal Cup Oaks two back going a mile over good ground at Santa Anita in her turf debut. She reunites with Rosario who was aboard her for her win two back. She should be tighter second off the bench and may still have some upside making just her third start on turf.

WIN: #9 to win at 3-1 or better.
EX: 3,9 / 3,6,8,9
TRI: 3,9 / 3,6,8,9 / 3,5,6,8,9

Good luck today!

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