Best Horse Racing Bets for Saturday, October 2, 2021

| October 1, 2021 12:25 pm PDT

The morning-line at Charles Town Races and I were in complete agreement for the three races I assessed there for my Saturday picks, but Golden Gate and Belmont Park were far more generous with the underdog moneymakers. Plus, the races I looked at for Belmont were all graded stakes races.

Don’t forget that our best online racebooks are a great place to get info on all the races at your favorite tracks.

Good luck!

Saturday’s Picks for Belmont Park

Let’s start on the turf course for race four, the Miss Grillo Stakes (Grade II), a $200,000 purse, 1-1/16 miles run for two-year-old fillies. I like one of the fourth-favored underdogs (there are two at 8/1 in this race), Sail By, ridden by Junior Alvarado.

Sail By is the only filly among this six-horse field with stakes experience.

She moneyed all three of her career starts, winning her initial maiden attempt in June, finishing second at the Colleen Stakes (Black Type) at Monmouth Park in August, and third in the P. G. Johnson Stakes (Black Type) at Saratoga in September.

Breeders’ Cup veteran Leah Gyarmati trains Sail By for Treadway Racing Stable. Gyarmati tapped Alvarado to saddle Sail By for her maiden victory as well as the P. G. Johnson Stakes.

We move to the dirt track for race eight, the Champagne Stakes (Grade I)—a $500,000 purse, one-miler for two-year-olds. I’m buying a win ticket on the fourth-favored (at 4/1) Gunite, with Ricardo Santana, Jr. in the irons.

This colt moneyed all five of his career starts, winning two, including his maiden in June and the Hopeful Stakes (Grade I) at Saratoga last month. He also finished second in the Saratoga Special Stakes (Grade II) in August. He’ll do.

Hall of Famer Steven M. Asmussen trains Gunite for owner-breeder Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC. Asmussen has put Santana in the irons for Gunite’s four most recent races.

Race nine is the Belmont Turf Sprint Invitational Stakes (Grade III), a $200,000 purse, six-furlong grass run for three-year-olds and upward. My money’s on the 7/2 second-favored Pulsate, with Manny Franco aboard.

This five-year-old finished in the money for ten of his 17 career starts, winning four, including the Lucky Coin Stakes (Listed) at Saratoga last month. In fact, Franco was aboard for that win, where he and Pulsate handed a second-place finish to this race’s M/L favorite, Backtohisroots.

Longtime racing veteran Robert Ribaudo trains Pulsate for owner Marc Keller.

Race ten is the Woodward Stakes (Grade I), a $500,000 purse, 1-1/8 mile main track run for three-year-olds and upward. I like the 7/5 morning-line favorite, Maxfield, ridden by Jose L. Ortiz.

The four-year-old Maxfield finished all nine of his career starts in the money, winning seven of them, the most recent of which was the Stephen Foster Stakes (Grade I) at Churchill Downs in June. He hasn’t posted a speed figure under 100 in over a year.

Brendan P. Walsh—who’s having a very good 2021—trains Maxfield for owner-breeder Godolphin, LLC.

My Saturday Picks for Charles Town Races

We start on the main track with race two, a 4-1/2 furlong allowance run for three-year-olds and upward. I’m calling this one for the 7/5 morning-line favorite, El Fenomeno, with Gerald Almodovar in the irons.

This five-year-old gelding finished in the money 11 of his 22 career starts, winning three of them. Two of those wins were in 2021, which puts him ahead of his competition in this lackluster short field of five.

Regularly ranked among the top 100 of his profession, Kevin S. Patterson trains El Fenomeno for Diamond Oak Stable.

Race five is a seven-furlong allowance race on the main track for West Virginia-bred three-year-olds and upward that have never won three races. I agree with the morning-line, so my money’s on the 9/5 favorite, Ishihara, with top jockey Arnaldo Bocachica in the irons.

This three-year-old gelding moneyed four of his six career starts, winning two. That’s enough to stand out in this eight-horse field.

Among the top-ranked trains in North America since at least the turn of the century, Jeff C. Runco trains Ishihara for owner-breeder Huntertown Farm LLC. Bocachica has been aboard for both of Ishihara’s wins.

For race seven—a 4-1/2 furlong starter optional claiming race on the main track for three-year-olds and upward—I’m betting on the morning-line’s 1/1 favorite, Storm Boarder, with Gerald Almodovar aboard.

This five-year-old gelding imported from Chile finished in the money 14 of his 23 career starts, winning six. Since he came to the States last December, he’s moneyed three of his six starts, winning two.

Kevin S. Patterson trains Storm Boarder for owner Robert L. Cole, Jr.

Saturday Picks for Golden Gate Fields

We start on the turf for race six, a five-furlong claiming run for three-year-olds and upward. My money’s on the 5/1 underdog, Slam Dunk Sermon, piloted by Frank T. Alvarado.

This four-year-old gelding actually has the best stats in this six-horse field: Eleven money finishes in 18 career starts, seven of those wins.

Slam Dunk Sermon started 2021 with a three-win streak, and despite his more recent lack of success, his speed figures have remained high.

Top-ranked in his profession for the past five years, Jonathan Wong trains Slam Dunk Sermon for MJVET Stables.

We’re on the all-weather track for race seven, a six-panel claiming run for three-year-olds and upward. I’m betting my two dollars on the 5/2 second-favored Cannonball Comin, ridden by Ruben Fuentes.

This six-year-old gelding moneyed 20 of his 46 career starts, winning five, but what really makes him stand out in this seven-horse field is his 2021 record: Six money finishes in seven starts, with two wins.

Cannonball Comin is trained by owner Jose Bautista, who’s having a very good 2021 for both wins and WPS stats.

Race nine is a one-mile allowance optional, claiming race on the all-weather track for fillies and mares three years old and upward. While I’m impressed with the morning-line favorite’s five-win streak, I’m less impressed with her lack nine money finishes in 25 starts.

What does impress me is the record of the 6/1 underdog, Wheal Grace, with William Antongeorgi III in the irons.

This four-year-old moneyed all four of her career starts, winning her two most recent races.

Jose Bautista—who I may have already mentioned is on fire this year—trains Wheal Grace for owners-breeders Edward A. and Theresa DeNike. Bautista put Antongeorgi in the irons for Wheal Grace’s most recent victory.

J.W. Paine
J.W. Paine

J.W. Paine is one of the most experienced writers at He's written for television and the printed media, and is a published novelist (as Tom Elliott).

Paine loves writing about Las Vegas nearly as much he loves living here. An experienced gambler, he's especially familiar with thoroughbred horseracing, poker, blackjack, and slots.

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