New York breds take center stage at Belmont Park on Saturday for Empire Showcase Day, eight stakes with purses of $1.75 million highlighted by the $300,000 Empire Classic Handicap for older runners at nine furlongs.
Saratoga Snacks is the 3-1 morning line favorite and will be making his fourth start in the race. The Gary Sciacca trainee ran second in 2012, won it in 2013 and was fourth last year. The six-year-old was beaten a nose last out in the state bred Evan Shipman by Royal Posse, who is the 7-2 second choice on the morning line.
Two races after the Empire Classic Lubash and Kharafa will meet for the 12th time in the $200,000 Mohawk at 1 1/6 miles on turf.
Kharafa is the defending champion of the Mohawk and is the 2-1 morning line favorite this year. The gelding won the state bred Ashley T. Cole in his last outing and has landed in the exacta in 12 of his 15 career starts over the Belmont Park turf.
Lubash is the second choice on the morning line at 5-2. The eight-year-old was the beaten favorite in the Cole, checking in fourth. He loves the Belmont Park turf as well, landing in the exacta in 15 of 23 trips. His last win came in the state bred West Point two back at Saratoga.
Post time for the opener on Saturday is 12:25 ET and the first stake is the $250,000 Sleepy Hollow, a one-mile test for two-year-olds that goes off as the second race on the 11-race card.
Let’s head out to Belmont Park for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Belmont Park Race 5 The Empire Classic Handicap (2:34 ET)
#9 Warrioroftheroses 5-1
#8 Empire Dreams 6-1
#3 Saratoga Snacks 3-1
#5 Royal Posse 7-2
Analysis: Warrioroftheroses comes into this race off matching career top speed figs in his last two starts. The gelding went gate to wire to beat $55,000 optional claimers last out at Delaware Park in the slop in a race taken off the turf. He returns here off a 2 1/2 month break and this guy has not faced New York breds since fading to finish eighth in this race back in 2013. The gelding owns solid early and m id pace numbers and that win he has over the surface came way back in 2012 against state bred Alw-1 foes.
Empire Dreams tracked the early pace while saving ground much of the trip and did not have enough punch left late in a third place finish in the state bred Evan Shipman at the Spa, checking in behind a pair of rivals he faces again here. He finished a well-beaten ninth in this race last year but has landed in the exacta in his other six starts over the main track here.
Saratoga Snacks makes his fourth start in this race, running second in 2012, winning it in 2013 and checking in fourth here last fall. The six-year-old set the early fractions and was nailed at the wire by Royal Posse by a nose. He won the state bred Saginaw two back here on the main track where he has won five of his nine starts.
WIN: #9 to win at 7-2 or better.
EX: 8,9 / 3,5,8,9
TRI: 8,9 / 3,5,8,9 / 1,3,5,8,9
Michael Dempsey’s Breeders’ Cup Report
Michael’s Breeders’ Cup Report includes his selections, analysis, fair odds line, and wagering recommendations for every race on the card from Keeneland on Oc. 30-31.
The Breeders’ Cup offers 12 championship races over two days, bringing together the best top horses, trainers, and jockeys from around the world, this year to compete at Keeneland.
In 2013 on Breeders’ Cup Saturday Mike nailed seven recommended exactas, paying $53.20, $19.00, $23.20, $58.00, $66.60, $107.80, and $33.60!