Belmont Park takes centerstage in the US on Saturday with the running of the $250,000 Belmont Oaks (Gr. 1). This is an event that typically takes place in July and a race for $750,000. Lower numbers at Belmont Park because of fan restrictions has forced organizers to lower the prize money from $750,000 to $250,000.
Remember that racecourses take in a very small fraction of off-track wagers, so even if the betting handle is up, the overall income at the track will still take a dent without in-person betting. Hence, horsemen and connections in the Belmont Oaks will have to settle with the smaller purse.
Tiz the Law in the Preakness in two weeks? We are still waiting word on whether Tiz the Law will have an opportunity for revenge on Authentic at Pimlico. His next workout, which is scheduled for next week, will provide us with a better idea of what Barclay Taggs’ plans are with the Belmont Stakes winner and runner-up to Authentic in the Kentucky Derby. Belmont Park is putting on a ten-race card worth $719,000 on Saturday. Head below for our free Belmont Park selections and Belmont Oaks pick for September 19, 2020.
Post Time: 2:04 p.m. EST
Distance:1 1/16 Miles
Race 3 covers 1 1/16 miles on the inner turf for a $67,000 purse. Spirit Animal and Winning Factor likely run strong enough races to get into the picture in the stretch. Winning Factor is coming off a hat-trick with wins from June to August. He got started with a 2 ¾ length win over Sandy Lane Kitten for a $39,000 purse on June 27, and then won most recently in a $74,000 race to prove that he can run in a higher class.
Winning Factor was mightily impressive with a win over the heavy favorite La Hara by a neck. With eight straight performances in the top-3, it’s hard to envision Winning Factor lagging behind this field. He’s in good form and likely going to be a threat to arrive at the winner’s circle once again.
Overall, Winning Factor is 3 for 16 in his career, so all three of his wins have been in recent months. He’s in the form of his life right now. Winning Factor is coming off a 4-furlong breeze on September 12 with a time of 50.25 seconds. For a morning-line price of 6/1, I certainly believe that Winning Factor is being overlooked going into Saturday.
Spirit Animal is a lightly raced colt with seven races since debuting on August 4, 2018. He has a bit of stakes experience with an appearance in the $200,000 Pilgrim Stakes (Gr. 3) in 2018. Spirit Animal finished 5th, but has been strong in his last three to finish 1st, 1st, 2nd.
His upset bid was spoiled in his most recent outing on August 1 at Saratoga. Spirit Animal was edged out at the wire by a head after coming on late. He came on just a tad too late in that mile event. I don’t know if Winning Factor has another upset in him today. Spirit Animal has been sharp in morning workouts, with times of 49.77, 49.43, and 48.82 seconds at 4 furlongs in August. He should produce for his connections today.
Race 5 – Belmont Oaks
Post Time: 3:04 p.m. EST
Distance:1 ¼ Miles
The Belmont Oaks (Gr. 1) is the feature race at Belmont Park, with 1 ¼ miles of racing on the inner turf for a $250,000 purse. This could turn into a duel between the American, Antoinette, and European, Magic Attitude. The Belmont Oaks doesn’t have the most talented field because of the reduction in prize money, but should nevertheless be an entertaining race down the stretch.
Antoinette should be close and give Magic Attitude everything she can handle. Since making her debut on September 14, 2019 and finishing 4th, Antoinette has finished in the top-3 in seven straight races. The biggest event she’s participated in was the $350,000 Coaching Club American Oaks (Gr. 1) on July 18. It was a solid run to finish a spot ahead of Tonalist’s Shape to grab show money. However, not enough for Crystal Ball and Paris Lights.
Antoinette is coming off a win in the $500,000 Saratoga Oaks Invitational in a minor upset. She was a mid-tier horse according to the betting money, but outperformed her expectations to steal the winner’s circle for a half length win over Stunning Sky. Her workouts in September have been in good order, with recorded times of 49.39 and 48 seconds.
Magic Attitude transfers from Europe to make her US debut on Saturday. She is coming off two Gr. 1 events, placing 2nd in the Saxon Warrior Coolmore P Saint Alary (Gr. 1), and maybe her better performanced, 5th in the $1,000,000 Prix de Diane Longines (Gr. 1), one of the biggest events in France on July 5. She may have finished 5th, but it was a tight field in the stretch, with Magic Attitude keeping pace with some really strong horses.
Magic Attitude ultimately lost by 3 lengths versus tough company. With only Antoinette to likely worry about, this should be an easyish debut for Magic Attitude. Neige Blanche certainly is going to have a shot here as well, but at the end of 1 ¼ miles, Magic Attitude should be able to outlast this field.
Post Time: 3:36 p.m. EST
Race 6 is our final selection at Belmont Park before moving on. This event will cover a mile on the main track for a $63,000 purse. Known Agenda and Likeable are expected to team up for Todd Pletcher. Known Agenda is a $135,000 colt making his debut on Saturday. He has shown enough in the morning to make his case on race day.
Known Agenda is coming off two quality 4-furlong workouts with times of 47.87 and 48.55 seconds. He wasn’t as sharp at 5 furlongs, with recorded times of 1:01.34 and 1:01.57, but should get into the discussion in the stretch. His stablemate, Likeable, made an impressive debut on August 22 at Saratoga.
Likeable placed 2nd to lose by a head as a first-time runner in the $72,000 event. He was a $350,000 purchase last year and expected to compete and win at this level. Likeable might be able to carry the weight for Pletcher’s squad on Saturday at Belmont. Engrave could have something to say about that, though.
Engrave is coming off his debut as well. He did the same, placing 2nd on August 15 in a $72,000 event. Engrave was purchased for $900,000 at auction last year and is expected to win and enter the graded stakes discussion. He’s been in good form in the morning, with a 5-furlong workout recorded at 1:00.12 and 4 furlongs at 48.09, 48.41, and 49.46 seconds. Engrave is expected to be a big player and not just compete but win.