Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:50 AM

Saturday's Picks from Belmont Park and Churchill Downs

We are now just one week away from the Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs and the field is nearly set, with post potions drawn next Tuesday.

It was announced yesterday that the Bob Baffert trained Hozier would skip the Derby, as will the Peter Eurton trained Dream Shake, who will instead go in the Pat Day Mile (G3) earlier on next Saturday’s Derby Day card.

That is great news for the connections of Lexington (G3) winner King Fury, who moves up to 20th in the Derby points standings earning his way into the race. The colt earned 20 Road to the Kentucky Derby points.

The colt showed some ability as a juvenile, winning the Street Sense at Churchill Downs last October and then was seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1).

He made a strong late run to win the Lexington at Keeneland on April 10 and earned a solid 95 Beyer Speed Figure. Coming back in three weeks is not ideal, but we did see Charismatic win the Lexington and then take both the Derby and Preakness Stakes in 1999. That year there was only a two-week break between the Lexington and the Derby.

I really liked King Fury’s win in the Lexington, and he does figure to be a very generous price next Saturday. While it looks as if Essential Quality is going to be a solid favorite, the race has some depth and is going to be a great betting race.

Tonight is the opener at Churchill Downs with a first post of 6:00 ET. Four of the races are in my Best Plays Report and to be honest I struggled to find good betting opportunities. There are two five horse fields and a pair of six horse fields to start off the evening.

The feature is the $150,000 William Walker going 5 1/2 furlongs on turf which drew a full field. However, there is rain in the forecast for most of the day, and there is a good chance the race will be taken off the turf to preserve the turf course for next week, so I ended up skipping the race.

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

“America’s Day at the Races” will be televised from 1:00 to 11:00 ET on FS2. Yes, 10 straight hours.  The horse betting company TVG is offering new players a 50% deposit match up to $250 .  In addition, AmWager is offering up to a $500 bonus for new horseplayers.

To purchase my Aqueduct and Best Plays Reports for Saturday click here .

Now is the perfect time to purchase my Monthly Package. It gives you a month of Belmont Park Reports daily and my Best Plays Report each Saturday and Sunday as well as my Kentucky Oaks, Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes Day reports.

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


Race 1 Md Sp Wt

  • #4 Mahaamel   5-2
  • #5 Pipeline   3-1
  • #2 First Captain   9-5
  • #3 Repo Rocks   4-1               

Analysis: Mahaamel is one of three firsters in here that all seem as if they have a very bright future. The Pletcher trainee was a $700,000 Keeneland purchase, by Into Mischief out of the stakes winner Hot Stones ($521,356) who has dropped one runner, debut winner Hot Mist (1 for 1, $12,000). This colt should be fit and ready to go off works at Palm Beach Downs and Irad is up.

Pipeline is by Speightstown out of a stakes placed Empire Maker mare that has dropped two foals to race both winners including debut winner Zalia ($109,300). The colt is sent out by the Chad Brown barn that is 19% winners with first time starters. She did most of her prep work at Palm Meadows and has one breeze over the main track here since returning. 


Race 7 OClm $100,000N3X

  • #4 Souper Stonehenge   5-2
  • #3 Mihos   6-1
  • #1 Looking At Bikinis   2-1
  • #7 Wicked Trick   6-1

Analysis: Souper Stonehenge drops into an earlier spot after checking in third last out in the Carter Handicap (G1) at the Big A at seven furlongs. The gelding earned a career top speed fig in the effort. Two back at Tampa Bay Downs the gelding dueled for the early lead and finished gamely in a head loss in the Pelican at six furlongs. The winner of that race was Zenden who came back to win the Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) in his next outing on March 27. The Casse trainee owns the edge in early and mid pace numbers and fits well in this spot with the class relief.

Mihos was a smart looking winner versus Alw-2 optional claimers last out at 6-1 and steps up a notch. The Jerkens trainee was next to last early and came with a good late rally, drawing off late to win by 1 1/4 lengths. The third-place finisher Big Engine came back to beat Alw-2 foes in his next outing on April 8. He owns solid late pace numbers and should get some pace to run at. Decent value if he goes off near his 6-1 morning line but he has not landed in the exacta in six trips over the main track here. 


 Race 5 Md $20,000

  • #6 Parrot Head   7-2
  • #1 Launch Pad   7-2
  • #2 Grand Design   3-1
  • #5 Mr. Flattery  4-1               

Analysis: Parrot Head dueled for the early lead on the Tapeta at Turfway Park and weakened to finish third last out going a mile for a $30,000 tag. The colt has now come up short seven times, landing in the money in four of those outings. His last go on conventional dirt three back as a decent second at 6-5 against maiden special weight foes at Mahoning Valley. The Lobo trainee drops in for a $20,000 tag and while he failed to fire here in the slop last fall willing to give this guy another look as this group is much weaker.

Launch Pad made his first two starts on Tapeta and then last out caught a sloppy track at Keeneland for this tag. The ridgling stalked the early pace while wide and made up some ground late to finish fourth, beaten 2 3/4 lengths at 35-1. The cut back in distance her should suit this guy and he ran well enough over a wet track last out he should fit here if the track comes up wet. He is the first foal to race out of a Lemon Drop Kid mare. 


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

  • R4: #5 Princess Fawzia   8-1
  • R5: #1 Chief Know It All   10-1
  • R6: #9 Mandatory   8-1
  • R9: #7 Med School Michael   15-1 

Good luck today!

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