Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:50 AM

Friday's Picks from Belmont Park and Churchill Downs

After the strange 2020 that saw the Belmont Stakes as the first jewel of the Triple Crown due to the pandemic, things are nearly back to normal as we approach the first Saturday of May.

Kentucky Oaks Day on Friday and Kentucky Derby Day on Saturday will see two of the largest number of fans in the stands at a sporting event in over a year as we could see as many as 50,000 in attendance.

Churchill Downs is limiting the number of reserved seats to 40% to 50% capacity and up to 60% in certain private premium areas that allow social distancing. Additionally, Infield-Only general admission ticket sales are limited to approximately 25% to 30% of capacity in the outdoor 22-acre Infield.

While horse racing has managed to mostly keep going during the pandemic, the tracks were forced to run without fans, leaving us at home to wager, and for the most part we obliged as handle numbers were pretty solid.

For the first time in about 14 months, a major sporting event will look very similar to pre pandemic days. We have an outstanding 13-race card on tap for Oaks Day, and another 14 races on Saturday’s card. This years Kentucky Derby drew a full field of 20.

The $1.25 million Kentucky Oaks this afternoon drew a full field of 14 three-year-old fillies. The Todd Pletcher trained Malathaat is the 5-2 morning line favorite. The filly is coming in off a victory in the Ashland (G1) at Keeneland.

She faces a strong field that includes Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) winner Travel Column (3-1), Gazelle (G3) winner Search Results (3-1) and Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) winner Crazy Beautiful (15-1).

Over the next two days under the Twin Spires there will be 27 races including six stakes races on Friday and seven stakes on Saturday’s Derby Day card.

My Kentucky Oaks / Kentucky Derby Package is now available with my selections, analysis and fair odds line for all 27 races over the two days of action.

My Best Plays Report for Friday includes my 10 strongest plays from Belmont Park and Churchill Downs.

“America’s Day at the Races” will be televised from 12:00 to 5:30 ET on FS2 with the action from Belmont Park and Oaklawn Park.  The NBC Sports Network has the action from Churchill Downs from 12:00 to 6:00 ET. TVG is offering new players  up to a $300 Risk Free wager.  In addition, AmWager is offering up to a $500 bonus for new horseplayers.

To purchase my Belmont Park, Churchill Downs and Best Plays Reports for Friday 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 Clm $16,000N2L

  • #1 Gilda Marie   5-2
  • #2 Remoane   6-1
  • #6 Hey It's Tati   2-1
  • #8 Empress Luciana   6-1

Analysis: Gilda Marie makes her first start since last December where she checked din sixth against $40,000 non-winners of two which was off a 11-month layoff. She raced near the back of the pack and could not make up any ground in the stretch, finishing eight lengths behind the winner. The top three in that are all won next out. The winner Violent Point beat state bred Alw-1 company in her next outing. She has worked well since her last start for the Englehart barn that is 13% winners with runners coming back off a 61–180-day break. She catches a soft spot here dropping in for a $16,000 tag.

Remoane dueled for the early lead while down along a dead rail and tired to finish fifth last out at this level in her first start against winners. She broke her maiden two back against t$25,000 stet breds for the Morley barn. She was claimed out of her last outing by the Jeremiah Englehart barn that is showing a 0 for 9 mark first off the claim. Going back three years the barn has hit at a 7% clip first off the claim. She comes right back for the same tag and should bounce back with a better effort here. She likely is going to overlooked in the betting here. 


Race 7 OClm $80,000N2X

  • #2 Creed   4-1
  • #8 Highest Honors   8-5
  • #3 Musical America   10-1
  • #6 Liveyourbeastlife   9-2               

Analysis: Creed makes his second start off the bench here for Shug. Last out at Gulfstream Park going six furlongs off an eight-month layoff he was last early and finished up well when rallying widest to check in fourth beaten 3 1/4 lengths. This guy broke his maiden going long here in the mud last June and then came right back to beat Alw-1 company over a fast track in July. He was a $650,000 Keeneland purchase out of the stakes placed Aspiring ($132,227). He still appears to have plenty of upside and will appreciate the stretch back out to a route. Shug is 18% winners moving runners from sprint to route.

Highest Honors is making his first start since running sixth in the 2019 Travers (G1). He broke his maiden going long over the main track here in his second career start and then won the restricted Curlin in the mud at the Spa. He was working steadily at Payson and has one drill here since returning to New York. Brown is 29% winners with runners coming back off a +180-day layoff. He should be ready to go off the bench but may end up a light price considering the long layoff. 


Race 9 The Eight Belles G2

  • #9 Li'l Tootsie   8-1
  • #10 Dayoutoftheoffice   3-1
  • #5 Windmill   10-1
  • #8 Kalypso   5-1

Analysis: Li'l Tootsie cuts back from a route in the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) where she tracked the early pace and weakened to finish fifth, beaten 9 1/2 lengths. She broke her maiden going six furlongs on the main track and then beat Alw-1 optional claimers in the slop in her first g around two turns. The Amoss barn is 30% winners (with a +ROI) moving runners from route to sprint. This filly looks as if seven panels will suit her, and she should get a good trip sitting off what should be a solid early pace. She is a half to three stakes winners, top earner Watch This Cat ($237,038) who won her stake sprinting. Fillies cutting back from routes have done well in this race including three of the last 11 when this race was run in May that came out of the FG Oaks and two others came out of routes at Oaklawn Park. Looks as if she is going to be a decent price in this spot.

Dayoutoftheoffice makes her first start since setting the early fractions and was unable to hold off Vequist late in a runner up finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1). She won the one turn mile Frizette (G1) two back at Belmont Park off nearly a three-month break. She trounced the field in the Schuylerville (G3) last July on opening day at Saratoga. She has worked sharply for her return for the Hamm barn that is 9% winners with runners coming back off a 61–180-day break. The trainer said she is fit and ready to go and opted for this spot instead of the Oaks. Seven furlongs should be well within her wheelhouse and she put in a bullet drill over at Keeneland on April 23. Junior is out with a concussion with Corrales picking up the ride and the jock has won at a 21% clip when riding for this barn.   


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

  • R3: #1 Burning Bright   12-1
  • R4: #11 Lord Flintshire   10-1
  • R5: #12 Honey Money   8-1
  • R6: #2 Caliogue Sound   8-1
  • R6: #7 Tellaperfecttale   8-1
  • R7: #3 Musical America   10-1
  • R8: #1 Rivendell   8-1 

Good luck today!

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