Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:50 AM

Sunday's Picks from Belmont and Oaklawn Park

Kentucky Derby (G1) favorite Essential Quality put in his final major prep on Saturday morning, and we are now just six days away from the big day.

The Brad Cox trainee is undefeated in five career starts and figures to go off somewhere between 5-2 and 7-2 in what still looks like a 20-horse field.

There has been some buzz among some outsiders this week including from Mandaloun and Dynamic One, and I think the favorite’s price may end up closer to the 7-2.

The colt put in a five-furlong breeze over the wet track at Churchill Downs in 1:00 2/5 and galloped out in 1:14 3/5. The colt is not flashy in the mornings and is coming off a hard-fought neck win in the Toyota Blue Grass (G2) at Keeneland on April 3.

He won the Southwest (G3) at Oaklawn Park in his three-year-old debut on Feb. 27 in the slop. He earned a 95 Beyer Speed Figure in his win in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) last fall at Keeneland.

His two Beyers this year were a 96 and a 97. The question is whether he has improved over his juvenile season and how much is left in the tank after a tough race in the Blue Grass. His trainer Brad Cox has not had a starter in the Kentucky Derby.

We saw the betting favorite win the Derby six years in a row between 2013 and 2018. That streak ended in 2019 with the favorite Improbable running fourth and last year Tiz the Law ran second.

Essential Quality is going to be the deserving favorite and he looks solid, but there is at least a half dozen other contenders in the field that are going to offer more betting value. The post position draw is Tuesday, and the draw is going to be important.

In the meantime, I have the next few days to sort out not only the Derby winner but there are 13 other races on the card including six supporting stakes. Friday’s card at Churchill Downs features six stakes including the $1.25 million Kentucky Oaks (G1) which is also going to be a great betting race.

My Best Plays Report for Sunday includes my eight strongest plays from Belmont Park and Oaklawn Park.

“America’s Day at the Races” will be televised from 1:00 to 5:30 ET on FS2 with the action from Belmont Park and Oaklawn Park. The horse betting company TVG is offering 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 Sunday 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

  • #2 Saucy Lady T 2-1
  • #1 Proton Pack 1-2
  • #5 Landslid 8-1
  • #3 Midsummer Nights 10-1

Analysis: Saucy Lady T was off poorly in her debut and made a mild late run to finish fourth at Keeneland going 4 1/2 furlongs, sent off at 12-1 as part of an entry for Chapman who does not win first out very often. He does hit at a 22% clip with second out maidens and won with a second out juvie on Friday's card here. He should move forward with a race under his belt and just needs to break better to have a chance of beating the Ward firster.

Proton Pack debuts for Ward who is 34% winners (with a +ROI) with first timers. The trainer has hit with 8 of his 16 two-year-old firsters so far this season but the ROI is still in the red at $1.91. This gal was a $210,000 Keeneland purchase, out of an Outflanker mare that has dropped four winners including one stakes placed runner. The short price and the rail draw are the concerns.


Race 7 Alw $80,000N1X

  • #4 Summer Brew 6-1
  • #6 Rainbow Gal 7-2
  • #7 Electric Youth 5-1
  • #10 Bankers Daughter 2-1

Analysis: Summer Brew broke her maiden last out in her seventh try for the Abreu barn going six furlongs on the main track at Aqueduct. She showed some promise last year with a game second in her debut and was beaten just a head in the state bred Lady Finger in her third career outing. She looks headed in the right direction as she makes her third start of her current form cycle here for a sharp barn. She catches a below average group of state breds here and the 6-1 morning line looks more than fair.

Rainbow Gal broke her maiden last out in the slop against $40,000 state breds in her first start off the claim by the Noda barn. She was taken two back for $25,000 in a third-place finish which was her second career start. She did not show much in her debut for $40,000 three back where she was sixth at 13-1. Rosario picks up the call and Noda appears to have made a shrewd claim here with this gal. She is proven over a wet track and looks as if she still may have some upside.


Race 6 Clm $12,500N3L

  • #9 Major Attraction 3-1
  • #4 Cabertoss 5-2
  • #6 Bullion 8-1
  • #3 Urbanite 5-1

Analysis: Major Attraction stretches out to a route of ground here after making a mile late run to finish fourth last out against $30,000 non-winners of two. He was making his first start off the claim by the Hartman barn that took him two back for $25,000 out of a sixth-place finish. The five-year-old broke his maiden going a mile on turf at Arlington Park last summer and has the pedigree to go long on dirt, by Distorted Humor out of a Vindication mare. The barn is 16% winners moving runners from sprint to route. He looks headed in the right direction and is jammed in here for $12,500 for a sharp barn.

Cabertoss chased the early pace, battled on in the stretch and could not stick with the winner late in a runner up finish, beaten 3/4 of a length for the top spot against $10,000 non-winners of three. It was his first go off a 13-month layoff. He was claimed out of the race by the Asmussen barn that is 20% winners first off the claim. Three back over the main track here this guy beat $50,000 starter allowance company going a mile. He picks up the barn's go to guy Santana and the gelding should be tighter second off the bench.


These are price plays for exotic players looking to find a couple of extra contenders to use in their Pick 4 or Pick 5 wagers. Or for those with smaller bankrolls, you might want to get in a small win wager.

Belmont Park

  • R1: #5 Landslid 8-1
  • R1: #3 Midsummer Nights 10-1
  • R3: #3 Sixteen Tons 8-1
  • R4: #7 Lorenzen 12-1
  • R5: #10 O Shea Can U See 15-1
  • R5: #3 Summer Bourbon 8-1
  • R6: #7 Epona’s Dream 8-1
  • R6: #8 Dixie Kitten 10-1

Good luck today!

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