Empire Classic Tops Showcase Day at Belmont Park

Empire Showcase Day Saturday’s 11-race card Empire Showcase Day features many of the top state breds in New York as they battle for over $1 million in purses highlighted by the $300,000 Empire Classic Handicap at nine furlongs for the older division.

The Empire Classic is the last of eight stakes for New York breds on the Belmont Park card. The race drew a competitive field of 11.

The Jeremiah Englehart trainee Pat On the Back is the 5-2 morning line favorite. The colt looks to turn the tables after getting beaten just a neck by Can You Diggit last out in the Evan Shipman at Saratoga going nine furlongs on the turf.

Control Group was third in the Shipman, beaten 1 ½ lengths and is looking to improve on his runner up finish in this race last year.

Empire Classic Distaff Draws Dozen

The co-feature on the card is the $250,000 Empire Distaff Handicap with a field of 12 fillies and mare going 1 1/16 miles on the main track.

The Jason Servis trained Bonita Bianca is the lukewarm 4-1 morning line favorite and drew the outside 12 post. The filly is looking to bounce back off an eighth-place finish on turf in the state bred John Hettinger. She won the Union Avenue on the main track at Saratoga two back going 6 ½ furlongs.

The top three from the state bred Fleet Indian return and they were separated by just a nose and a head. The winner was English Soul (10-1), her fourth win in eight career starts.

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Split Time (10-1) was third and beaten just a nose and a head an she rallied over a racing strip that was kind to inside speed that day.

Michael’s Best Plays Report for Saturday will include his strongest pays from Empire Showcase Day at Belmont Park and Maryland Million Day at Laurel Park.

Let’s head out to Belmont Park for Saturday’s featured race of the day:


Belmont Park Race 10 The Empire Classic (Post time 5:23 ET)

#3 Control Group   9-2

#10 Pat On the Back   5-2

#8 Sea Foam   12-1

#4 Can You Diggit   7-2

Control Group

This guy dueled for the early lead and could not go with the top pair late in a third-place finish in the state bred Evan Shipman at the Spa, beaten 1 1/2 lengths for the top spot. The colt caught a racing strip that was playing to outside stalkers and closers that day. The RRod trainee was second in this race last year and then won the Discovery ‘Cap (G3) in his following outing, the first of three stakes wins in a row. He looks headed in the right direction and three back rolled to a big win at Finger Lakes in the slop earning a career top speed fig. He looks capable of turning the tables today and the cut back to a one turn race here suits him.

Pat On the Back

He exits the same race as our top pick. The colt tracked the early pace while four wide and finished gamely, just missing by a neck. He won the state bred Saginaw two back for his lone win this year, but he has run well in each of his last four trips since starting off the year catching a muddy track. The Englehart trainee owns a solid pace profile throughout and has done some of his best running here where he has landed in the money in all seven trips.

Sea Foam

The Clement trainee prompted the early pace and weakened to finish fifth in the Oklahoma Derby (G3) at Remington Park last out, beaten 2 1/4 lights. This guy has won three state bred stakes against three-year-olds this year and this is his first test against older. Three-year-old have held their own in this race, winning it in four of the last nine runnings. He needs to pick up his numbers to be competitive, but he owns solid early and mid pace numbers and certainly has enough pedigree to handle nine furlongs. Worth tossing in the mix here if he goes off near his 12-1 morning line.


WIN: #3 to win at 7-2 or better.

EX: 3,10 / 3,4,8,10

TRI: 3,10 / 3,4,8,10 / 3,4,5,8,10

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