Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:57 AM

At the Gate - Saturday

Rain washed the races off the turf Friday on the opening day card at Belmont Park, but the weather is on the improve and we have two rich turf stakes on today’s card.

The $1 million Jockey Club Derby Invitational is not a graded stake, but it is a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1).

A field of nine will line up including the winners of the first two legs of the Turf Trinity, a three-race series of turf events in New York.

Henley’s Joy won the first leg, the Belmont Derby (G1) at 20-1 and A Thread of Blue took the field gate to wire to win the second leg, the Saratoga Derby.

As you can see below, I am looking elsewhere with Digital Age, who came up short in the first two legs but looks capable of turning the tables this afternoon for trainer Chad Brown.

The co-feature on the 11-race Belmont Park card is the $750,000 Jockey Club Oaks Invitational which drew a field of eight. The race is the third leg of the Turf Tiara, with the winner of the first two legs, Concrete Rose sidelined.

Among the eight fillies in the field are three Euro shippers and they all appear to have shot of winning. Among the trio Love So Deep is the highest price on the morning line at 9-2. The filly was beaten a head in the Prix de Pomone (G2) at Deauville in France in her last outing.

We will also take a trip out to Kentucky Downs for some rich stakes action. Among the races is the $$700,000 Runhappy Turf Sprint (G3) which is a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1).

My Best Plays Report for Saturday includes my nine strongest plays from Belmont Park and Kentucky Downs.

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

BEL Race 1 Alw $66,000N1X (1:00 ET)
#1 Girl of Tosconova 6-1
#2 Cash Offer 3-5
#4 Pas de Deuce 12-1
#7 Lem Me Have It 9-2

Analysis: Girl of Tosconova makes her first starts since December where she faded to finish a well beaten seventh in the Demoiselle (G2) at nine furlongs. She graduated in her debut in the slop going a mile for a $50,000 tag and was claimed out of the race by the Baker barn. She was a game second against $50,000 starter allowance foes in her first go for the barn. Decent works on the morning tab for a barn that is 23% winners (with a +ROI) with runners coming back off a +180-day layoff. Looks as if she has the best shot of beating the chalk in here.

Cash Offer set the early fractions and battled on gamely in a runner up finish last out at this level. She has landed in the bottom half of the exacta in all three of her trips since breaking her maiden including a second in the state bred Bouwerie here in May. She owns solid early and mid pace numbers and a repeat of her last makes her really tough to beat.

WIN: #1 to win at 4-1 or better.
EX: 1,2 / 1,2,4,7
TRI: 1,2 / 1,2,4,7 / 1,2,3,4,7

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

BEL Race 10 The Jockey Club Derby Inv. (5:47 ET)
#8 Digital Age 5-2
#1 A Thread of Blue 4-1
#9 Spanish Mission 3-1
#3 Henley's Joy 5-1

Analysis: Digital Age came up short in first two legs of the Turf Trinity in New York but may be able to turn the tables here in this 1 1/2-mile race. The colt was outrun early and came with a mild late run to finish fourth in the Belmont Derby (G1), beaten 2 1/2 lengths by Henley's Joy. Last out he stalked the early pace and could not get to A Thread of Blue in the Saratoga Derby as the winner was able to set soft early fractions and take the field gate to wire. The Brown trainee won his first three career starts including winning the American Turf (G2) three back at Churchill Downs going 1 1/16 miles. The colt has enough pedigree to handle the added ground here. He is by Invincible Spirit out of a Lemon Drop Kid mare. Castellano picks up the call and he should be able to run these down.

A Thread of Blue pulled off the upset in the Saratoga Derby at 13-1 with his gate to wire score, earning a career top speed fig. He ran second to our top pick in the American Derby three back, beaten 3/4 a length. He sat off the pace in his win in the Palm Beach (G3) but there is not much speed in here and he figures to try and take this field gate to wire He should be able to handle the extra ground. He is by Hard Spun out of a Seeking the Gold mare that has dropped two other stakes winners including Ea ($598,471) a 11-time dirt route winner.

Spanish Mission is one of three Euro shippers in this race and the shippers have not had much of an impact on the first two legs of this series. The colt won the Bahrain Trophy (G3) two back at Newmarket going 1 5/8 mils. The colt came up short last out in the Gordon Stakes (G3) at Goodwood at 1 1/2 miles, beaten a neck and a head in a third place finish He had a troubled trip, having to steady early and lacking room while caught in behind foes, getting clear late and finishing gamely. He adds lasix here, but his jockey Jamie Spencer rarely does us any favors when riding in the U.S.

WIN: #8 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 1,8 / 1,3,8,9
TRI: 1,8 / 1,3,8,9 / 1,3,5,8,9

Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Kentucky Downs:

KD Race 7 The Turf Sprint G3 (3:53 CT)
#3 Imprimis 4-1
#9 Stormy Liberal 9-2
#1 Wet Your Whistle 8-1
#10 Totally Boss 6-1

Analysis: Imprimis makes his first start since a sixth in the King's Stand Stakes (G1) at Royal Ascot back in June. She won the Silks Run and the Shakertown (G2) in her two previous starts. The Silks Run win produced a career top speed fig and it was coming off a six-month layoff. Decent looking works at Gulfstream Park for her return for the Orseno barn that is 9% winners (with a +ROI) with runners coming back off a 61-180-day layoff.

Stormy Liberal prompted the early pace, battled on while in between foes and did not have enough left late in a third-place finish in the Green Flash 'Cap (G3) at Del Mar last out off a 4 1/2-month break. He was third two back in the Al Quoz Sprint (G1) in Dubai. The Miller trainee ran big last year winning four in a row capped off by the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1) and all of those wins came in photos. He should move forward second off the break here and likely gets bet down from the 9-2 morning line.

WIN: #3 to win at 7-2 or better.
EX: 3,9 / 1,3,9,10
TRI: 3,9 / 1,3,9,10 / 1,3,8,9,10

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 Pas de Deuce 12-1
R2: #9 Abby Normal 8-1
R2: #7 Youth Gone Wild 10-1
R3: #3 Storm Advisory 10-1
R8: #5 Highland Sky 8-1
R11: #9 Lorcan 8-1
R11: #3 Freudian Sip 8-1

Good luck today!

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