Last Updated Sep 24, 2021, 11:00 PM

Saturday's Picks from Saratoga and Parx

We have a pair of $1 million races at Parx Racing today, with the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby (G1) losing another major contender.

First Medina Spirit, who would have been the favorite was scratched after his trainer Bob Baffert said he did not care for the post position the colt drew.

Then yesterday my original top pick Keepmeinmind came down with an abscessed foot and will scratch. He would have been a decent price and now I ended up landing on Hot Rod Charlie, who is going to be the betting favorite.

The $1 million Cotillion (G1) is the co-feature and a prep for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1). I keep waiting on Clairiere to run another big one and hopefully that happens today as the Steve Asmussen trainee is my top pick.

The two stakes at Belmont Park today came up chalky. Life Is Good is the 1-9 morning line favorite for the Kelso Handicap (G2) which drew a field of five. The co-feature is the $200,000 Athenia (G2) and just five will go, two sent out by trainer Chad Brown including the 3-5 morning line favorite Pocket Square.

The good news is there is an 11-race card at Belmont Park and the other nine races offer plenty of solid wagering opportunities. Despite possibly having a free square in both the early and late Pick 5’s, neither sequence is going to be that easy.

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


 Race 1 Md Sp Wt

  • #4 Nest 3-1
  • #1 Dover Dreams 5-2
  • #5 Nostalgic 4-1
  • #6 Saffron Moon 7-2

Analysis: Nest debuts for the Pletcher barn that is 22% winners with juvie first timers in 2021. This is his first of the year going long on dirt to debut. The filly was a $350,000 Keeneland purchase, by Curlin out of the stakes winner Marion Ravenwood ($112,598) who has dropped four foals to race with three winners including stakes winner Idol ($416,464) who won the Santa Anita Hcp (G1) back in March. Good works on the morning tab and no doubt he is bred to go long.

Dover Dreams was outrun early and made a mild late run to finish third in his debut at the Spa going 6 1/2 furlongs. He caught a racing strip that was playing to inside speed that day. Brown is 25% winners with second out maidens. He is by Arrogate out of a stakes placed Silver Sept mare that has dropped three winners including G1 winner Wavell Avenue ($1.1 million) the 2015 Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) winner. He should show more with a race under his belt and may appreciate the stretch out to a route of ground.


Race 7 OClm $80,000N2X

  • #7 Flop Shot 5-2
  • #3 Price Talk 8-1
  • #2 Shamrocket 2-1
  • #10 Zarkallani 6-1

Analysis: Flop Shot is making his first start off a 15 1/2-month layoff here for the Brown barn. He made his U.S. debut in the Fort Marcy (G2) last June where he checked in fifth in a highly graded race. He won 2 of 6 overseas including the Prix de Guiche (G3) at Chantilly back in May of 2019. The barn is 25% winners with runners coming back off a +180-day layoff. Solid works on the morning tab and this is a good spot here taking on Alw-2 foes. He returns gelded and with blinkers added.

Price Talk tracked the early pace and finished gamely to beat $50,000 restricted claimers last out going 1 1/16 miles on turf for the Abreu barn. He was claimed out of the race by the Tony D. barn that is showing a 0 for 6 mark first off the claim and 0 for 12 going back five years. However, the barn has been on a nice roll this year hitting at a 29% clip overall. Last year this guy was a solid third in the Gio Ponti, then a decent third at this level back in April off a 4 1/2-month break. This guy has been the favorite in five of his last six starts and looks as if he actually is going to be a decent price here.


Race 11 The Cotillion G1

  • #6 Clairiere 2-1
  • #8 Always Carina 6-1
  • #5 Army Wife 7-2
  • #1 Obligatory 10-1

Analysis: Clairiere came with a good late rally to finish in the runner up spot last out in the Alabama (G1) going 1 1/4 miles, beaten 1/2 lengths by Malathaat. This gal has lost five in a row since winning eh Rachel Alexandra (G2) to kick off her year. Shew was our top pick in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) but she came up short in a fourth-place finish, beaten three lengths. Both of her wins have come at today's distance although she can handle more ground. It looks as if she should get enough pace to run at here and I like the jock switch to the barn's go to guy in Santana.

Always Carina stalked the early pace and did not have enough punch late in a fourth-place finish in the Test (G1) at seven furlongs last out at the Spa. She graduated going a one turn mile and ran well in a runner up finish in the Mother Goose (G2) two back at this distance although that race was around one turn. Brown is 24% winners moving runners from sprint to route. With just four starts under his belt this gal looks as if she may still have some upside. She has worked well since her last outing and should end up a fair price here.


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

  • R2: #2 Front Man 8-1
  • R3: #7 Him She Kisses 8-1
  • R3: #1 Lookin for Trouble 10-1
  • R4: #1 Fort Peck 15-1
  • R5: #8 Tiple 12-1
  • R6: #6 Silver Samuari 8-1
  • R6: #7 Koosman 10-1
  • R7: #3 Price Talk 8-1
  • R8: #2 Aminlarix 10-1
  • R9: #9 Bointheback 8-1
  • R9: #8 Hot Rod Rumble 12-1
  • R10: #3 Made IN Italy 12-1
  • R11: #3 Saratoga Gaze 8-1
  • R11: #5 Sinfully Sweet 8-1

Good luck today!

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