Empire Classic highlights state-bred Saturday program at Belmont

The $175,000 Empire Classic anchors Saturday’s Empire Showcase Day at Belmont Park. We’ll cover the main event of the day, along with an undercard race, below.

Belmont Race 6 (Post time: 2:53 p.m. ET)

The $175,000 Empire Distaff

1 1/16th-miles on dirt

#2 RATAJKOWSKI (2-1, morning-line favorite) should defend her Empire Distaff title despite exiting a disappointing fifth-place finish in the Union Avenue Stakes at Saratoga. She did not have a particularly clean trip when last seen, and the seven-furlong distance was not ideal for her. RATAJKOWSKI is 4-for-5 lifetime at Belmont with one additional ITM finish. She should work out a comfortable stalking trip under Jose Ortiz.

#3 MAKINGCENTS (6-1) will likely try to take the Empire Distaff field gate-to-wire. She doesn’t have many pace foes in here, so she should be involved late for a share under Luis Saez. MAKINGCENTS faces older foes for the first time after most recently beating her peers in the Fleet Indian at Saratoga.

#5 CRITICAL VALUE (7-2) was a no-show in the Fleet Indian and managed only a third-place finish in an allowance last time out, but her best effort puts her squarely in the hunt in the Empire Distaff. She’s 2-for-3 lifetime at Belmont, both of those victories coming against state-bred stakes foes. CRITICAL VALUE will have Junior Alvarado aboard.

The play: $5 exacta 2/3,5 ($10)

Belmont Race 10 (Post time: 5:05 p.m. ET)

The $175,000 Empire Classic

1 1/8-miles on dirt

#1 OUR LAST BUCK (15-1) has been on the rise in 2020 and could light up the tote board in the Empire Classic, his first career stakes try. The son of Courageous Cat has hit the exacta in each of his last five starts, three of which he won.

OUR LAST BUCK has an impressive 4-2-1-0 record at Belmont Park and retains Manny Franco. Trainer Michelle Nevin has been hot at the meet, with six victories and seven additional ITM finishes from 25 starters.

The play: $10 win 1

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