New York Showcase Day gives owners and breeders in New York a shot at over $1 million in purses, and horseplayers will be treated to an outstanding Belmont Park betting card.
There are well over 100 horses entered on Saturday’s ten race card, and the seven stakes drew 82 runners factoring in the main track only and also-elgibles.
New York breds have fared quite well outside of the state bred ranks this year, winning more than a dozen graded stakes including four Grade 1’s.
Dayatthespa, The Lumber Guy, Next Question, and Willy Beamin are state breds that have won Grade 1 races in 2012.
None of those will be in New York for Showcase Day, but there is plenty of star power among the seven stakes, with the marquee event the $250,000 Empire Classic for three-year-olds and upward going nine furlongs on the main track.
Hall of fame trainer Bill Mott, who will have his hands full in two weeks attempting to win the Classic and Ladies’ Classic in back to back years will send out the 8-5 morning line favorite Lunar Victory in the Empire Classic.
The five-year-old has won four of five starts this year, his lone loss coming last out in a runner up finish in the Promenade All.
His main rival will be the up and coming Saratoga Snacks (9-5), who makes his stakes debut for trainer Gary Sciacca and his owner, former NFL coach Bill Parcells.
Here is a quick look at the other stakes on the afternoon card:
Iroquois: Agave Kiss started off her career by winning her fist six starts, but now the Rudy Rodriguez trainee comes into the race having lost three in a row, all at odds of 6-5 or lower. She figures to be a light price again, and will need to have her running shoes on as she faces eight foes including Union Ave. winner Risky Rachel and Grade 1 placed Beautiful But Blue.
Bertram F. Bongard: A full field of 14 juveniles will make this one of the toughest races to handicap on the card. Don’t look for the Todd Pletcher runner, he does not have a starter in here. The Phil Serpe trainee Weekend Hideaway, who was third in the Futurity (G2) in his last outing is the 5-2 morning line favorite.
Hudson: Saginaw is going to be one of the shorted priced of the day as the 4-5 morning line favorite seeks his ninth win in 11 starts this year. David Jacobson claimed this guy away from Rick Dutrow and he has just keep on winning, taking seven of his last eight starts. Shrewd One is sharp and returns to the state bred ranks, and the speedy Dr Disco brings plenty of early zip.
Ticonderoga: Hessonite returns to the state bred ranks after checking in fifth in the Flower Bowl (G1) last out. The filly won her last three starts against state breds by a combined eleven lengths. She takes on her familiar rival Gitchee Goomie, who got the best of her three and four back but has come up short in her last two starts.
Joe A. Gimma: The juvenile filly race drew a dozen with no clear cut favorite. The John Kimmel trained Agillion is the 4-1 morning line favorite. The filly is coming off a third place finish against state bred Alw-1 foes, although she missed winning the Aristie by just a neck two back in her first start against winners. Carameaway broke her maiden last out by 8 ¾ lengths, and Kelli Got Frosti figures to get some betting action off a 14 length maiden score in her last outing.
Mohawk: The day closes out with a full field going 1 1/16 miles on the turf. Bruce Brown will saddle the entry of Compliance Officer and Strong Impact, while Saranac (G3) winner unbridled Command and Ashley T. Cole victor Lubash look like they fit in this spot.
Michael covers Belmont Park each racing day and will be providing handicapping reports for Keeneland and his Best Plays each Saturday and Sunday!
Let’s head out to Belmont Park for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Belmont Park Race 9 The Empire Classic Post time 5:13 ET
8 Lunar Victory 8-5
3 Sailmate 6-1
6 Saratoga Snacks 9-5
1 Big Business / 1a Fiddlers Afleet 5-1
Lunar Victory had a five race win streak snapped last out in the state bred Promenade All where the five year old came up a half-length short, beaten by Saginaw, who was winning for the eighth time in ten starts in 2012. The Bill Mott trainee stumbled coming out of the gate getting off a bit tardily, stalked the early pace while three wide, came with a good run into the stretch and could not get to the winner late. The racing strip was kind to inside speed that day. He gets an extra furlong to run them down here and he won twice at the Spa going the distance although it is still one turn here. He is reunited with Junior Alvarado, who was aboard him for every start since coming to the U.S. except for his last outing. The only real knock is going to be the short price.
Sailmate exits the same race as our top pick where the colt checked in fourth. He tracked the early pace while saving ground and made a mild late run to finish three lengths back of the winner. He won his first four starts over the Belmont Park main track and he should benefit from the extra ground here. He ran a good second behind our top pick three back in the Evan Shipman at the Spa going nine furlongs. It looks as if there is going to be an honest pace in here and this guy should be rolling late and may end up getting overlooked at the betting windows.
Saratoga Snacks was a smart looking winner last out against Alw-1 foes in his first start outside of the state bred ranks, winning by four lengths and earning the top last out speed fig. He has now won four in a row after landing second in his debut and will be trying stakes company and nine furlongs for the first time. The Gary Sciacca trainee drilled a bullet on Oct. 11 over the training track here on Oct. 11 and figures to be part of the early pace. However, there are a couple of runners in here with some early zip and I do not think he will find things easy early.
WIN: Lunar Victory to win at 8-5 or better.
EXACTA: 3,8 / 1,3,6,8
TRIFECTA: 3,8 / 1,3,6,8 / 1,2,3,6,8
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