New York-breds will be in the spotlight this Saturday at Belmont Park on Empire Showcase Day. Eight state-bred events, led by the Empire Classic and Empire Distaff, comprise the majority of the 11-race card. First post is 12:30 p.m. EST. Don’t forget to take part in FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game!
Belmont Race 9
The $250,000 Empire Distaff
Conditions: 1 1/16th-miles on dirt
Post time: 4:48 p.m. EST
The Empire Distaff can be narrowed down to the four favorites on the morning-line; #12 BONITA BIANCA (4-1, morning-line favorite), #6 FROSTIE ANNE (9-2), #2 TAKE CHARGE AUBREY (5-1), and #4 HAY FIELD (6-1). Of this quartet, FROSTIE ANNE is the most appealing.
FROSTIE ANNE has won six straight going into this start, two over open competition, all at one mile or beyond. She can win on the lead or just off the pace, so she drew well for this. FROSTIE ANNE drilled a bullet in preparation for the Empire Distaff and is 4-for-6 all-time at Belmont. Junior Alvarado, as usual, will be aboard.
The aforementioned other three favorites all have some sort of distance concern. HAY FIELD would be the narrow second-choice as the closer could take advantage if the race falls apart.
The play: $8 win 6, $2 win 4 ($10)
Belmont Race 10
The $300,000 Empire Classic
Conditions: 1 1/8-miles on dirt
Post time: 5:23 p.m. EST
#10 PAT ON THE BACK (5-2, morning-line favorite) is the favorite despite losing to #4 CAN YOU DIGGIT (7-2) last time out in the Albany Stakes. This seems illogical, until you do a little investigating.
Both of CAN YOU DIGGIT’s victories this year have come at two-turn nine-furlong races. The Empire Classic is contested at just one turn. CAN YOU DIGGIT’s record at Belmont is wanting (4-1-0-1), and he was third in this race a year ago.
PAT ON THE BACK is 7-2-3-2 all-time over this course, with his most recent start, the 1 1/16th-mile Saginaw, resulting in a win. He’s tactically versatile too, so he should be guided back off a potentially brisk pace. Dylan Davis maintains the assignment on the most consistent horse in the group.
CAN YOU DIGGIT is a must-use in the exotics. An intriguing longshot to consider is #2 CALCULATED RISKER (20-1) under Javier Castellano. He was beaten less than two lengths by CAN YOU DIGGIT in his lone 1 1/8-mile start earlier this year. After that career-best effort, he caught two sloppy tracks, one of which he won over at 1 1/8-miles at Saratoga. He’s never won at Belmont (3-0-0-1) but this late-blooming closer is too tempting to toss entirely.
The play: $5 exacta 10/4, $3 exacta 10/2, $2 exacta 4/10 ($10)
DFJ analysis: Javier Castellano is hard to pass up on this Saturday. He rides in 10 races and has the call on the two lowest-priced favorites on the card. They are 8-5 Offering Plan in the Mohawk, and 7-5 Fifty Five in the Ticonderoga. CALCULATED RISKER gives Castellano a shot to hit the board at generous odds in the featured Empire Classic.
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