Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:50 AM

Sunday's Picks from Belmont Park and Churchill Downs

Essential Quality bounced back after being the beaten favorite in the Kentucky Derby with a game effort to win the Belmont Stakes (G1) on Saturday.

Hot Rod Charlie got the jump on Rock Your World who broke a beat slow and the colt set very sharp early fractions of :22.78 and :46.49 which made it look as if the race would set up for the closers.

Hot Rod Charlie put away Rock Your World and Essential Quality came calling. It appeared the colt would run on by and draw off to win by a good margin but to his credit Hot Rod Charlie hung in there really well and came up just 1 ¼ lengths back after setting his taxing early pace.

It was better than 11 lengths back to Rombauer who checked in third and Known Agenda was fourth.

I thought Essential Quality was the obvious one to beat but made him my second choice as I thought Rock Your World would offer more value, break better and have a shot of taking the field gate to wire. We got the price, he went off at 5-1 but he did not break as well as I had hoped and that helped create the speed duel, which he did not survive, tiring to finish sixth.

Seven of my top picks ran first or second highlighted by my top pick Drain the Clock pulling off the upset in the Woody Stephens (G1) returning $17.00 and topping a $45.40 exacta with my second choice Jackie’s Warrior.

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

“America’s Day at the Races” is on FS2 today from 12:30 to 6:00 ET with the action from Belmont Park and Churchill Downs. 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 .

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


Race 1 Md $50,000

  • #8 Epicurean 9-2
  • #9 Zaccapa 8-5
  • #3 Dearest Kitten 6-1
  • #5 Lilly Simone 7-2

Analysis: Epicurean is one of two in here sent out by the Ward barn that has been on fire at the meet, winning at a 44% clip. This filly returns off nearly a three-month break after pressing the early pace and weakening to finish third last out on the main track at Gulfstream Park off a six-month layoff. She made her debut at Kentucky Downs over good ground going 6 1/2 furlongs where she set the early fractions and tired to finish seventh. She is out of a Woodman mare that has dropped six winners and two have won on turf. The barn is 25% winners with runners coming back off a 61–180-day layoff. She should be right in the mix early and the 9-2 morning line looks fair enough.

Zaccapa makes her first start since New Year's Eve at Gulfstream Park going a mile where she checked in fifth against maiden special eight foes. She was a good second in her U.S. debut over the turf here and three back was beaten just a couple of heads when third here going six furlongs. She drops in for a tag for the first time here for the Cox barn that is 33% winners when dropping runners from maidens special to maiden claiming. The barn has good numbers with layoff types and this gal fits well here although her price is going to end up on the light side.


Race 7 Alw $102,000N1X

  • #5 Scarlet Fusion 7-2
  • #6 Nathan Detroit 6-1
  • #1 Bryce Canyon 8-1
  • #11 Who Took the Money 5-1

Analysis: Scarlet Fusion was bumped coming out of the gate, was off near the back of the pack and made a mild late bid to check in fourth last out, beaten two lengths here in his first start against winners. he broke his maiden two back at Keeneland over good ground in his turf debut and sixth career start. He has four sibs that are turf winners and four that re stakes winners, top earner Tara's Tango ($806,004). A cleaner start and trip makes this colt a major player in this spot.

Nathan Detroit makes his second start off a seven-month layoff last out when checking in sixth at this level here. He showed some ability as a two-year-old breaking his maiden in his debut going a mile at Ellis Park and then rallying for third in the Bourbon (G2) at Keeneland. He reunites with Leparoux who was aboard for his first two starts and should move forward second off the bench for the McGaughey barn. Expecting a much better showing for this colt today.


Race 7 The Jersey Girl

  • #5 Miss Brazil 8-5
  • #6 Decade 6-1
  • #4 Australasia 7-2
  • #3 Bella Sofia 5-2

Analysis: Miss Brazil took the field gate to wire to easy trounce Alw-2 optional claimers last out here going 6 1/2 furlongs. The filly won the Ruthless two back in gate to wire fashion at seven furlongs and two back set the early fractions and could not hold off Search Results late in the Busher. Search Results came back to win the Gazelle (G3) and miss in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) by just a neck in her next two outings and is in here. The Tony D. barn has been on fire this year after a couple of quiet years, currently hitting at a 40% clip in '21. This filly owns solid early and mid pace numbers and popped a bullet drill on May 28. She was scratched out of the Acorn (G1) yesterday at a mile at 5-1 as my top pick to go here.

Decade broke her maiden last September in her second career start at Churchill Downs by a neck. She returned in April at Oaklawn Park where she caught a muddy track and she tracked the early pace and drew clear late to a smart looking win versus Alw-1 optional claimers. She earned a solid number in that outing and catches a much tougher spot here but looks as if she still has some upside. The Asmussen barn is 19% winners with runners making their second start off a +180-day layoff. Decent value if she goes off near her 6-1 morning line..


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

  • R3: #6 Jack’s Dream 8-1
  • R3: #10 Bolgheri 8-1
  • R4: #7 Sweet Mia 12-1
  • R5: #5 Count Down 8-1
  • R6: #3 Towering Gaze 8-1
  • R8: #6 Therapist 10-1

Good luck today!

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