A field of six will line up in Saturday’s feature at Belmont Park, the $100,000 Yankee Affair at 1 ½ miles on the grass with the Todd Pletcher trained Red Rifle the 2-1 favorite while Legendary may be tough as the second choice.
Legendary checked in third last out in the Lure at Saratoga for trainer Niall Saville. The colt is cross-entered in the Japan Racing Association at Laurel Park.
Things did not get off to a good start at the Belmont Park meeting as exercise rider Juan Vasquez died Friday morning after a training accident.
According to the NYRA, Vazquez was working Global Warrior, an unraced two-year-old, in company with Broadway Bay in the stretch on the training track at approximately 8 a.m. when the horse suddenly ducked into the inside rail, unseating the rider, according to Bruce Brown, who trains both horses.
“They were nearing the end of the work and Juan reached back to hit the horse once, right-handed,” said Brown. “The horse ducked into the rail and he [Vazquez] ended up over the inside rail.”
It was also opening day at Churchill Downs on Friday, and we have a couple of Breeders’ Cup Challenge races on Saturday.
The $100,000 Iroquois (G3) drew a field of inner and it is not only a “Win and You’re In”, race it is also a 2015 Kentucky Derby points race. The race drew nine including the D. Wayne Lukas trained Mr. Z, who we saw at the Spa. The colt was second in the Sanford (G3) and Saratoga Special (G2).
The $200,000 Pocahontas is a “Win and You’re In race for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) as well as a points race for the Kentucky Oaks (G1) next spring.
Lukas has a good shot of pulling off the double, as the Hall of Fame trainer will saddle Take Charge Brandi, who ran well in the Schuylerville (G3) in a runner up finish but misfired in the Adirondack (G2) in her most recent outing.
I have included all of the stakes action in Saturday’s Best Plays Report, which includes 10 races from Belmont Park and Churchill Downs.
Let’s head out to Belmont Park for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Belmont Park Race 9 The Yankee Affair (Post time 5:17 ET)
4 Legendary 5-2
6 Red Rifle 2-1
1 Reflecting 3-1
3 Elnaawi 5-1
Analysis: Legendary stalked the early pace, squeezed through a couple of foes and battled in gamely in the stretch while in between foes in a third place finish in a deadheat in the restricted Lure last out at the Spa. His one try at today’s 1 1/2 mile distance was a good second in his U.S. debut at Keeneland back in the spring against Alw-2 foes. He is also entered in the Japan Racing Association at Laurel Park today where he is the 8-5 favorite. He fits well here if this is where he lands.
Red Rifle set the early fractions and could not hold off the winner late in a runner up finish against Alw-3 optional claimers going nine furlongs. The Pletcher trainee won the Maxam Gold Cup at Sam Houston on dirt in March and is winless in three starts on turf but has run well with a couple of seconds. The pedigree is a bit light to handle 1 1/2 miles but there is not much other early speed in here and this guy could be tough if able to set slow early fractions.
WIN: #4 to win at 2-1 or better.
EX: 4,6 / 1,4,6
TRI: no play
Michael Dempsey’s full card reports for the entire fall championship meeting at Belmont Park from Sept. 5 until Oct 26. The package includes “Super Saturday” on Sept. 27 which will feature six graded stakes, including five Grade 1 races, headed by the 96th edition of the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup at 1 ¼ miles. New York Showcase Day will take place on Saturday, Oct. 18, and will be comprised of eight stakes races restricted to New York-breds, with purses totaling $1.75 million.