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Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 13:50 PM

Saturday's Picks from Belmont and Delaware Park

It is closing weekend at Belmont Park and we go out with a bang with a pair of Grade 1 turf races on Saturday’s card—the $700,000 Belmont Oaks Invitational (G1) and the $1 million Belmont Derby Invitational (G1).

Sandwiched between those two 1 ¼ mile turf tests is the $150,000 Victory Ride (G3) for three-year-old fillies.

We wrap things up on Sunday where the feature is $150,000 River Memories for fillies and mare four years old and upward that will go 1 ½ miles on turf.

Then it is on to Saratoga, with opening day next Thursday.

We were off the turf on Friday at Belmont Park after two inches of rain fell on Thursday. We have had close to 24 hours without rain and since Sunday is closing day, I am hoping all of the races will be contested on turf which should have plenty of give to it.

We also will head out to Delaware Park on Saturday where one of the most underrated graded stakes in the U.S. is run every year. The $400,000 Delaware Handicap G2) for fillies and mares at 1 ¼ miles tends to draw top class runners just about every year.

Past winners include Elate and Royal Delta, who both won the race in back to back years, as well as Blind Luck and Life At Ten. Trainer Chad Brown saddled last year’s winner Dunbar Road.

This year’s edition drew a field of seven led by the Brad Cox trained Bonny South, the 3-2 morning line favorite. The filly ran second in the Ogden Phipps (G1) at Belmont Park on June 5 in her last outing. She came off the bench at Keenland two back and won the Doubledogdare (G3).

Her main rivals include Queen Nekia (3-1), who was fourth in the Phipps, Lady Secret runner up Gibberish (8-1) and Miss Marissa (6-1), who ran second in the Obeah in her last start.

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

“America’s Day at the Races” is on FS1 from 1:00 to 3:00 ET, and 3:30 to 6:30 on FS2 with the action from Belmont Park.

Looking to wager? 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 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:

BELMONT PARK 1 ANALYSIS (1:00 P.M. ET)

 Race 1 Md Sp Wt

  • #8 Just Say When 8-5
  • #6 Piqua 4-1
  • #4 Big Invasion 9-2
  • #1 Fort Ticonderoga 7-2

Analysis: Just Say When gets the call and with tomorrow being closing day and both G1's today on the inner turf, I am optimistic we could be on the turf this afternoon despite all the rain on Thursday. Our top pick is sent out by the Ward barn that is 39% winners with two-year-old first timers this year including 4 of 8 on the NYRA circuit. This colt was a $140,000 Keeneland purchase, by Upstart out of a stakes placed Old Fashioned mare that has dropped two foals to race including one turf winner. She spent the winner at Palm Meadows and had a few turf drills and then shipped to Keeneland. Rosario takes the call and she figures to be ready to go.

Piqua is a $100,000 Keeneland purchase by Speightstown out of a Pivitol mare that has dropped two foals to race with one dirt winner. The Motion barn is on the light side with firsters, hitting at an 8% clip overall. This colt has been working well at Fair Hill and this guy still would be a threat if we are off the grass for this race.

BELMONT PARK 7 ANALYSIS (4:06 P.M. ET)

Race 7 The Belmont Oaks Inv. G1

  • #1 Con Lima 5-1
  • #5 Santa Barbara 1-1
  • #2 Cirona 12-1
  • #7 Plum Ali 7-2

Analysis: Con Lima chased the early pace while saving ground, angled out and finished gamely to win the Wonder Again (G3) last out over good ground here going 1 1/8 miles. She earned a career top two back winning the Honey Ryder over good ground at Gulfstream Park two back. She has some early speed and there is not much pace in here. Breaking from the rail Prat figures to send her and she has shown she can handle ground with give to it. She gets a real class and distance test here but looks as if she may be up to it.

Santa Barbara comes from overseas for the O'Brien barn who won this race in 2018 with Athena. This filly has just a maiden win in four starts but has faced some tough company. She was beaten just a neck last out in the Pretty Polly Stakes (G1) on good ground on June 27. She was a well beaten fifth over good to soft ground two back in the Epsom Oaks (G1). She has quite the pedigree, a half to 2019 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G1) winner Iridessa ($1.98 million) and 2020 Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) victor Order of Australia ($1.1 million). Moore has come over to ride the two O'Brien chalks including this gal. She is reported to like a bit firmer ground than we will see today and is going to be a puny price, but she sure has the look of a filly with a ton of upside.

DELAWARE PARK RACE 9 ANALYSIS (5:15 P.M. ET)

Race 9 The Delaware Hcp G2

  • #2 Queen Nekia 3-1
  • #5 Bonny South 3-2
  • #1 Gibberish 8-1
  • #6 Miss Marissa 6-1

Analysis: Queen Nekia is one of two in here sent out by the Joseph barn, this gal appears to have the best shot of beating the chalk. The mare came up short last out in the Ogden Phipps (G1) at Belmont Park going 1 1/16 miles, a distant fourth in a race where Bonny South ran second. The mare stalked the early pace while down along a dead rail and weakened in the stretch, 14 lengths back of the winner. The winner was Letruska who came back to win the Fleur De Lis (G2) at Churchill Downs in her next outing on June 26. The mare has tried 1 ¼ miles just once in her career, a well beaten sixth in this race in 2019 which was won by Elate. She kicked off her 2021 campaign with a career top speed fig winning the Royal Delta (G3) at Gulfstream Park off a three-month break. She then finished evenly in a fourth-place finish in the Top Flight Invitational at Aqueduct going 1 1/8 miles. There is not much early pace signed on here and she will need to be a bit closer to the pace but if she can run back to her effort in the Royal Delta that would put her in the mix in this spot.

Bonny South earned a career top speed figure in her runner up finish in the Ogden Phipps. She won the Doubledogdare (G3) at Keeneland two back off a 4 ½ month break. She landed in the exacta in five of her six starts last year including a runner up in the Alabama (G1) at the Spa at this distance. She then was beaten a neck by Miss Marissa in the Black Eyed Susan (G2) last October. She looks primed for a top effort third off the bench and reunites with Geroux who has been on board for two of her wins. She is the obvious one to beat here but her price is going to end up on the short side.

Gibberish pressed the early pace and finished gamely in a runner up finish to Altar in the Lady Secret at Monmouth Park last out going 1 1/16 miles. She was fourth in the Royal Delta (G3) three back behind our top pick. She draws the rail and has some early speed. If she is able to get away with a soft opening half mile, she may be able to stick around for a share late. The question mark is the distance as she has not been beyond 1 1/16 miles in her 11-race career which includes four wins. Her lone stakes win came in the slop over the main track at Delta Downs going a mile in the Treasure Chest.

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

  • R6: #10 Chrome Dixie 8-1
  • R7: #2 Cirona 12-1
  • R8: #6 Red Ghost 10-1
  • R8: #5 Souper Sensational 8-1
  • R9: #4 Sainthood 10-1
  • R10: #1 My Boy Colton 10-1

Good luck today!

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