Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:50 AM

Saturday's Picks from Belmont and Churchill Downs

A field of eight will line up in the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (G1) and while there is no chance of seeing a Triple Crown, we have a competitive group lining up and seven supporting Grade 1 races on the 13- race card.

Essential Quality is the 2-1 morning line favorite and is looking to make amends after being the beaten favorite in the Kentucky Derby (G1) five weeks ago. The Brad Cox trainee skipped the Preakness Stakes (G1) and appears to be coming into the race in good fashion.

Rombauer is the 3-1 second choice after his upset win in the Preakness where he paid $25.60. He picks up a new jockey in John Velazquez as Flavien Prat, who was aboard for his Preakness win was already committed to riding Hot Rod Charlie.

Hot Rod Charlie (7-2) ran a solid third in the Derby, beaten one length for the top spot.

Rock Your World (9-2) lost all chance in the Derby when was away poorly and wound up a well beaten 17th. The John Sadler trainee should bounce back with a much better effort if he breaks more alertly.

Recently inducted Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher will send out a trio of runners as he seeks his fourth Belmont victory. He will saddle Known Agenda (6-1), Bourbonic (15-1) and Overtook (20-1).

Known Agenda won the Florida Derby (G1) but was a disappointing ninth in the Kentucky Derby. Irad Ortiz Jr. was scheduled to ride but he was dumped in the stretch on Thursday and is out for a couple of weeks. As of late Friday afternoon Pletcher had not named a replacement.

Completing the field is the Japanese invader France Go de Ina, who was not much of a threat in a seventh-place finish in the Preakness. He is eligible for a $1 million bonus if he wins the Belmont. The NYRA offered the bonus to any Japan based horses that wins the third jewel of the Triple Crown.

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

“America’s Day at the Races” is on FS2 today from 11:30 to 3:00 and 7:15 to 8:15 ET with the action from Belmont Park and Churchill Downs. The NBC Sports Network has the action from 3:00 to 5:00 and then we move to NBC from 5:00 to 7:00.  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 Stakes Day 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 Belmont Stakes Day reports.

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

BELMONT PARK 1 ANALYSIS (11:35 A.M. ET)

Race 1 Md Sp Wt

  • #3 Hagler   9-5
  • #4 Wit   8-5
  • #2 Keepcalmcarryon   7-2
  • #8 Too Much Action   15-1               

Analysis: Hagler chased the early pace and could not get to the gate to wire winner last out in his debut. It was just a three horse field and the winner Little Drama grabbed an easy lead over a racing strip that as kind to inside speed. The winner came back to run yesterday as the 1-2 morning line favorite in the Tremont. The RRod trainee figures to move forward with a race under his belt. He is by Tapiture out of a Latent Heat mare that has dropped one other runner, stakes winner Sky of Hook ($99,676). He has to beat a pair of Pletcher firsters here, no easy task but has the experience edge.

Wit debuts for Pletcher and note Irad is off our top pick to go with this guy. He was a $575,000 Keeneland purchase, by Practical Joke out of a Medaglia d'Oro mare that has dropped three foals to race, all winners, top earner stakes winner Barkley ($368,425). Solid looking works on the morning tab and he looks ready to go at first asking.

CHURCHILL DOWNS RACE 6 ANALYSIS (3:18 P.M. ET)

Race 6 Md Sp Wt

  • #5 Performing Arts    3-1
  • #2 Private Network   8-1
  • #9 Dolder Grand   8-5
  • #4 Awakened   7-2

Analysis: Performing Arts put in a solid effort in his first trip over the turf here. The Lynch trainee chased the early pace, had to alter course to the outside and finished up well for third, beaten a half-length for the top spot. He showed some promise in his debut with a third but then regressed in his next two starts over good ground. He has a nice turf pedigree, by Dansili out of the stakes winner Devine Actress ($107,300) who won once on turf and has dropped four winners and they have all won on turf and three are stakes winners including $2.3 million earner Oscar Performance and $1.5 million earner Oscar Nominated.

Private Network was a decent third in his debut on the main track going seven furlongs last November. He when was seventh on the stretch out to nine furlongs and a well beaten 10th in the slop at Keeneland last out in his first go off a 4 1/2-month break. The top pair have come out of that race to win next out. This guy is reported as first time gelding and may take to the surface switch. She is by Bernardini out of an unraced Street Cry mare that has dropped one other foal to race who is 0 for 3. He should show more second off the bench for the Walsh barn. 

BELMONT PARK 8 ANALYSIS (3:58 P.M. ET)

Race 8 The Just a Game G1

  • #6 Pocket Square    5-1
  • #4 Regal Glory   8-1
  • #11 Blowout    4-1
  • #9 Summer Romance   6-1

Analysis: Pocket Square is one of four in here sent out by the Chad Brown barn as he looks for his fifth consecutive win in this race. This filly was a smart looking winner against Alw-2 company at Keeneland over good ground in her U.S. debut. All but one she beat have come back to run with a couple of thirds the best finishes. She won a Group 3 three back at Deauville in France back in 2019 in her third career start. She has made just two starts since. Two of Brown's four wins in this race came with Euro shippers who were making their econ start state side. This gal won last out as if she still has plenty of upside. This is where Irad landed but he is out after a spill on Thursday and this filly will need a new rider.

Regal Glory was my top pick in Thursday's Intercontinental (G3), but she scratched to go here for Brown. Last out she tracked the early pace while rank and came with a good four wide rally to get up and win the Plenty of Grace going a mile over good ground. That outing was her first start off a seven-month layoff. She won the Ladies Turf (G3) on yielding turf at Kentucky Downs two back before hitting the sidelines. She broke her maiden and then won the Stewart Manor at six furlongs to kick off her career. She looks capable of moving forward second off the shelf here. Some give to the ground would be a plus.

Blowout is also sent out by Brown. This mare was coming back off a five-month layoff last out in the Distaff Turf Mile (G2) on Derby Day. She opened up a huge lead as our top pick at 9-5 and held on late to win by a half-length over New York Girl. She was 0 for 3 last year, all seconds and all coming out on the wrong ends of photos. Among those was a neck loss over the grass here in the Noble Damsel (G3) at a mile. She owns solid early and mid pace numbers and should be tighter here second off the bench. Brown is 29% winners with runners making their second start off a 45–180-day break. There is not much early speed signed up here. 

LIVE LONGSHOTS

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

Belmont Park

  • R1: #8 Too Much Action   15-1
  • R2: #4 Migrate   8-1
  • R6: #12 Sombeyay   12-1
  • R6: #2 Casa Creed   8-1
  • R8: #4 Regal Glory   8-1
  • R9: #5 By My Standards   10-1
  • R10: #6 Rockemperor   8-1
  • R12: #9 Pandamom   8-1 

Good luck today!

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