Saturday’s featured race at Belmont Park is the $125,000 Elusive Quality which drew a veteran field of 10 that will line up to go seven furlongs on turf on the second day of the spring/summer meeting.
The Mark Casse trained Commute is the 5-2 morning line favorite with Jose Lezcano in the irons. The gelding made a mild late run to finish fourth in the Shakertown (G2) at Keeneland going 5 ½ furlongs on turf in his last start on April 7. That outing was his first since a third last summer at Woodbine in the Highlander (G2) last July.
Casse will also saddle Conquest Panthera (4-1), who makes his second start off the bench and looks capable of beating his stablemate.
Among their foes will be $1.1 million earner Kharafa, who makes his first start as a nine-year-old and Ready for Rye (6-1), who has earned $759,840 and can run over any surface.
Opening day at Belmont Park on Friday went well for us with six winners on top on the nine-race card, the winners returning $6.30, $4.50, $8.40, $3.90, $10.40 and $5.60.
My Best Plays Report for Saturday includes my eight strongest plays from Belmont Park and Santa Anita.
Let’s head out to Belmont Park for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
BEL Race 9 The Elusive Quality (5:50 ET)
#9 Conquest Panthera 4-1
#10 Kharafa 9-2
#5 Commute 5-2
#2 Undrafted 6-1
Analysis: Conquest Panthera makes his second start off a 3 1/2 month break and cuts back to one turn here after checking in fifth in the Danger’s Hour. He is one of two the Casse barn sends out in this spot. Two back this gelding came with a good late rally to finish third in the Turf Sprint Championship at six furlongs on the turf at the Big A. He earned a career top speed fig winning the Play the King (G2) at Woodbine at seven panels. The cut back suits him for Casse who is 18% winners with runners making their second start off a 45-180 day break.
Kharafa went 0 for 6 last year and appears to have lost a step or two as he makes his first start as a nine-year-old here. He came off the bench to run a good second in this race last year. He has landed in the exacta in three of his four trips at the distance and while he did not win last year he earned numbers that fit here landing in the money in five of his six trips.
Commute is also sent out by Casse. The gelding came off a nine-month layoff last out in the Shakertown (G2) against a tougher group than this and made a mild late run to finish fourth. That was over soft ground at 5 1/2 furlongs and he will appreciate the added ground here. His last trip at seven furlongs came three back in the Connaught Cup (G2) he headed for home with a clear lead and got caught at the wire. He has handled any type of turf and there could still be some give to the turf today after rain fell yesterday.
WIN: #9 to win at 7-2 or better.
EX: 9,10 / 2,5,9,10
TRI: 9,10 / 2,5,9,10 / 2,5,8,9,10