Belmont Park features an outstanding betting card on Saturday with Empire Showcase Day. There are eight stakes restricted to New York breds with purses that total $1.75 million.
New York bred stars Artemis Agrotera, Dayatthespa, Palace and Zivo are awaiting bigger challenges in two weeks in the Breeders’ Cup, but there is still plenty of star power running at Belmont Park on Saturday afternoon.
The marquee race on the day is the $300,000 Empire Classic, which drew a field of nine three-year-olds and upward going nine furlongs on the main track. Last year’s winner Saratoga Snacks is the 2-1 morning line favorite, but has not won in four starts since taking last year’s Empire Classic.
The stakes action starts with the $250,000 Sleepy Hollow for two-year-olds. The Todd Pletcher trained Ostrolenka is the 9-5 morning line favorite off a 14 ½ length maiden score in his second career start.
Juvenile fillies go in the $250,000 Maid of the Mist, which drew a field of nine. The undefeated Temper Mint Patty is coming off a 13 ½ length win in the Joe A. Gimma and is the 8-5 morning line favorite for trainer Dale Romans.
The $200,000 Mohawk drew eight and a pair of main track only entrants. Lubash and King Kreesa will renew their rivalry. They were separated by just a neck in the state bred Ashley T. Cole, with Lubash coming out on top.
Nine fillies and mares will go to the post in the $150,000 Iroquois at 6 ½ furlongs on the main track. La Verdad is looking to get back to her winning ways, coming up short in three tries against graded stakes company. She has won six straight against state breds.
Her main rival with be Willet, who is coming off a third place finish in the Gallant Bloom (G2) where she was beaten a length with winner Artemis Agrotera and runner up La Verdad separated by a head.
The $250,000 Empire Distaff Handicap drew 11 fillies and mares that will go 1 1/16 miles on dirt. Princess Violet (5-2) is back with state breds after beating first level allowance foes in her latest outing. She ran second to Untapable in the Mother Goose (G1) back in June.
The $200,000 Ticonderoga drew an overflowing field and is one of the toughest races on the card to figure out. Discreet Marq is the 8-5 morning line favorite and is a Grade 1 winner, but she has lost six in a row including the state bred Yaddo where she was second to Dayatthespa. Her best makes her tough but her price will be short.
The final stake on the card is the $150,000 Hudson for three-year-olds and upward going 6 ½ furlongs on dirt. A field of 11 will line up led by Weekend Hideaway (5-2), winner of the state bred John Morrissey two back, and Noble Cornerstone (3-1) who beat open first level allowance foes in his last outing.
Let’s head out to Belmont Park for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Belmont Park Race 8 The Empire Classic (Post time 4:08 ET)
8 Sioux 5-2
6 So Lonesome 5-1
3 Saratoga Snacks 2-1
1 Empire Dreams / 1a Awesome Vision 6-1
Analysis: Sioux makes his stakes debut here for the Michael Hushion barn and this guy is coming a pair of impressive outings. The colt came back off a nine-month layoff with a good looking score against state breed Alw-1 foes at the Spa going seven furlongs, drawing off to win by 5 1/4 lengths. The third place finisher Station Chief came back to beat state bred Alw-1 company in his next start on Aug. 25 while the runner up Groupthink was a game second in his next start here on Oct. 4.
Next, our top pick came back against Alw-2 foes and looked even better, rolling to a 9 1/4 length win. The $200,000 Spa purchase looks ready and he has enough pedigree to handle his first trip going nine furlongs. He is by Awesome Again out of a Pulpit mare, her first foal to race.
So Lonesome won the state bred Albany last out in gate to wire fashion in his first go on conventional dirt since last October where he was third in the state bred Bongard. He raced on grass and poly and did run a decent third in the open Manila here on turf in June.
The gelding has not run a bad one on dirt and there is not much other early zip signed up to go here.
Saratoga Snacks is the defending champion of this race, taking it last year as the betting favorite. Since then however he is 0 for 4 but he did have a rough trip last out behind a couple of these in a state bred allowance race.
He makes his third start off the bench and since landing with the Mott barn. The fact Mott lands him here bodes well he is going to move forward off his last effort, but his 2-1 morning line seems light.
WIN: #8 to win at 5-2 or better.
EX: 6,8 / 1,3,6,8
TRI: 6,8 / 1,3,6,8 / 1,2,3,6,8
Michael’s Breeders’ Cup Report for Friday and Saturday includes his selections, analysis, fair odds line, and wagering recommendations for every race on the Friday and Saturday card from Santa Anita Park on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1.
The Breeders’ Cup offers 13 championship races over two days, bringing together the best top horses, trainers, and jockeys from around the world, this year to compete at Santa Anita Park.