His three races break an hour apart, starting at 4:40 pm EDT.
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A week before the Breeders Cup, the stakes slate this Saturday is unsurprisingly light. We've nonetheless found a handful of playable races from across the country. We expect fast dirt and firm turf for all of these; let's go.
Belmont Park, Race 8, 4:40 pm ET
Grade 3 Bold Ruler Handicap, 7 furlongs, dirt, 3 & Up
The big news in the Bold Ruler is the presence of 1-Maximum Security, who finished first in the Kentucky Derby before being disqualified and placed 17th. This colt is one of the more polarizing horses in recent history, perhaps because of the furor over the Derby DQ, perhaps because of mixed feelings about his trainer, Jason Servis. He breaks from the rail here, and is a deserving even-money favorite against seven other runners.
We think Maximum Security is very vulnerable in the Bold Ruler. He does his best running on the lead, but he is not the most naturally speedy horse in here: 3-Wonderful Light and 5-Knicks Go both have more early zip. Breaking from the rail, Maximum Security really has no choice but to use his early speed to keep from being buried against the fence, and we are envisioning a scenario where jockey Luis Saez has to use too much of the horse's energy to secure an early position. We see Maximum Security being cooked at the top of the stretch, and while he's a good enough horse to hold on for a piece, even when he's out of gas, at odds-on, he's a mammoth underlay, and we cannot wait to bet against him.
We like 4-True Timber, who starts for trainer Kieran McLaughlin. This tough 5-year-old gelding has been running in some incredibly tough races, and should find the Bold Ruler a much softer spot. And though he's been running in some longer races, we think he is at his best in one-turn sprint races. The 7-furlong distance of the Bold Ruler should be right up his alley. He has good tactical speed, which should put him in a good spot to stalk what we think will be a fast pace. We might pick him over Maximum Security if the odds were the same; the fact that he's 8-1, and Maximum Security is even money, makes this a no-brainer. We will bet True Timber to win, and we will do so eagerly and enthusiastically. The bet: Belmont Park, Race 8, $50 to win on 4-True Timber.
Keeneland, Race 9, 5:40 pm ET
Grade 2 Hagyard Fayette Stakes, 1 1/8 miles, dirt, 3 & Up
The feature on the penultimate day of the Keeneland fall meeting is the Hagyard Fayette, a nine-furlong stakes on the dirt. The good folks in Lexington have assembled a fine field of ten here; it's a good betting race. The 2-1 morning line favorite is 3-Tom's d'Etat, a grizzled 6-year-old vet who has been in very good form recently. He is our pick in this race: we tried to find a way to beat him, but his edge in recency -- his last three races were all excellent -- and his affinity for the distance (three wins in six career starts) give him the edge, we think. We will bet him to win at 2-1. The bet: Keeneland, Race 9, $30 to win on 2-Tom's d'Etat.
Santa Anita, Race 7, 6:45 pm ET
Grade 3 Autumn Miss Stakes, 1 mile, turf, 3-year-old fillies
The Autumn Miss drew a full field of twelve. We like the big field, because it ensures a better price on the horse we like, favored 3-Hidden Message, who starts for trainer Simon Callaghan. Her first race in the United States, after starting her career in England, was a very, very good second in the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks in August. A repeat of that effort might be enough to win this race, but we think that she is going to improve, perhaps significantly, in her second start on this side of the pond. She has a very strong combination of a high cruising speed and a strong finishing kick; we think she gets her picture taken today. We will bet Hidden Message to win at 5/2. The bet: Santa Anita, Race 7, $50 to win on 3-Hidden Message.
That's all for today. We will be back early next week with an early look at the Breeders Cup. It's the best two days of racing of the year, and we are going to embrace it. Until then, good luck at the windows.