It was supposed to be Empire Showcase Day at Belmont Park yesterday, but after four winners based at Parx Racing near Philadelphia won races, maybe a name change is in order.
We had a pretty good day, and Mr. Buff was able to take the field gate to wire as my top pick in the Empire Classic Handicap, the headlining race on the card. He paid $9.40 and topped a nice exacta of $47.60.
The feature at Pimlico was the Maryland Million Classic, and my second choice Monday Morning Qb got the job done paying $15.60 along with my third choice Harpers First Ride, who was overbet. The $2 exacta paid a generous $44.60.
Today is opening day for the fall meeting at Churchill Downs, and we have an 11-race card with a pair of stakes on a day devoted entirely to two-year-olds.
My Best Plays Report for Saturday includes my ten strongest plays from Belmont Park and Churchill.
The feature at Belmont Park today $100,000 Athenia (G3) for fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles on the inner turf course.
Sweet Bye and Bye is the 3-1 morning line favorite and is coming off a good effort in a third-place finish in the Noble Damsel (G3).
As you can see below, I am looking for a bit more value with Call me Love. The Christophe Clement trainee gets come class relief after running in a couple of very tough spots.
You can catch the action from Belmont Park today from 12:30 to 2:00 and 3:00 to 6:00 ET on FS2. Also, you can stream the action on YouTube or by using the TVG App. The horse betting company based in the U.S. offers a risk-free bet up to $300 for new players.
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Here is the opener from Belmont Park to get the day off to a good start:
BELMONT PARK RACE 1 ANALYSIS (12:40 P.M. ET)
BEL Race 1 Alw $82,000N1X
#2 Mrs. Danvers 1-1
#1 Say Moi 8-5
#5 Mrs. S 12-1
#4 So Darn Hot 7-2
Analysis: Mrs. Danvers was in a winning spot last out, but she was pinched back coming out of the gate, stalked the early pace, and came up just a head short. She returns with blinkers added, and I am hoping Rosario just sends her here. She has not been on the lead, but she has enough tactical speed, and she is good enough. She ran int repeat winners in her first two tries at this level and then was fifth in the Test (G1). A clean break makes her tough here at a fair price.
Say Moi draws the rail and likely gets sent here. She had a rough trip last out in a fourth-place finish. She had to steady and was shuffled back nearing the quarter-pole. The third and seventh place finishers came out of that race to win next out while the winner Timely Tradition ran third in yesterday's state-bred Iroquois. She broke her maiden at six furlongs but looks capable of handling a one-turn mile.
BELMONT PARK RACE 9 ANALYSIS (4:55 P.M. ET)
BEL Race 9 The Athenia G3
#2 Call Me Love 7-2
#7 She's Got You 4-1
#6 Sweet Bye and Bye 3-1
#1 Mitchell Road 9-2
Analysis: Call Me Love tracked the early pace from the inside while fighting the bit throughout the first six furlongs and weakened to finish fifth in the Diana (G1). This gal was beaten just a neck by Starship Jubilee two back in the Ballston Spa (G2), and note she finished ahead of Sistercharlie. She was fourth three back behind a couple of nice one sin Mean Mary and My Sister Nat and four back ran second to Rushing Fall. She is better than she showed last out and figures Clement and Rosario will figure out what went wrong last out. She faces an easier group here.
She's Got You is one of three in here sent out by the Brown barn. The filly was beaten by a head and a nose when third in her U.S. debut off the bench and then last out came with an excellent late rally to win the Violet at Monmouth Park off a 2 1/2-month break. Overseas she won a couple of handicaps at Newmarket and Ascot and looks primed for a top effort her in her third start stateside. Brown has won this race four times.
Sweet Bye and Bye prompted the early pace and finished gamely in a third-place finish last out in the Noble Damsel (G3) going a mile, beaten a length. She beat Alw-3 optional claimers two back and has paired up career top speed figs in her last two starts. She rarely fails to fire, landing in the money in 14 of her 17 career starts and has moved forward since landing in the Tony D. barn. She will be forwardly placed and fits well in this spot.
CHURCHILL DOWNS RACE 10 ANALYSIS (5:36 P.M. ET)
CD Race 10 The Rags to Riches
#8 Coach 3-1
#9 Midnight Ballerina 8-1
#2 Malibu Bird 9-2
#5 Lady Traveler 5-1
Analysis: Coach is perfect in two starts sprinting at Indian Grand and gets a class and distance test here. She broke her maiden going six furlongs by 4 1/4 lengths and returned to trounce Alw-2L foes by 9 3/4 lengths. Five have come out of that race to run back, and we have seen two winners and the other three race second next out. Among those was Hungarian Princess, who won the state-bred City of Anderson in her next start at Indiana Grand on Sept. 30. The Cox barn is 22% winners moving runners from sprint to route. She has enough pedigree to go long, by Commissioner out of an Exchange rate mare.
Midnight Ballerina tracked the early pace, took command heading for home, finished up well to win by a length in her debut, and looked as if she had a little left in reserve. The runner up Littlestitiousa came back to graduate in her next start at Keeneland on Oct. 16. The Mott filly is by Mineshaft out of the stakes winner Midnight Ballet ($214,981), who was best going long. She figures to move forward with a race under her belt for the Hall of Fame trainer.
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.
R1: #5 Mrs S 12-1
R2: #8 Peace Maker 8-1
R6: #4 Centsmybabyleftme 12-1
R8: #6 Chateau 8-1
R10: #7 Monificent 12-1
Good luck today!