An Empire Champ’s State of Mind

Horse Racing Radar
Rich Bieglmeier
Rich Bieglmeier is a Staff writer for Horse Racing Radar
Saturday, October 24, 2020

Belmont Park is putting the best of breed and best of New York born on display today with a slate of Empire Stakes races, punctuated by the Empire Classic Handicap. A field of eight thoroughbreds foaled in NY State and approved by the New York State-Bred registry will race 1 1/8 miles on Belmont's main track.

The group of three-year-olds and up will battle it out in the 10th for the Empire Classic Crown and their share of $175,000 in prizemoney.

FUNNY GUY (PP: 3 ML 2-1) is the pre-race favorite and is coming off a disappointing second place finish as the bettors' post-time choice in his last effort. It was the second time in a row and fourth time in his last four starts that he was the chalk and failed to deliver. Trainer John Terranova bounces back at a high rate with beaten favorites, scoring at 36% the next time out, but FUNNY GUY'S history suggests he's a very beatable favorite.

Next up on the tote board is MR. BUFF (PP: 2 ML 5/2). Just looking at his most recent two races may cause you to look away in fear. However, closer inspection shows the six-year-old is dropping in class from the Grade I, Whitney Stakes. His resume shows a horse that's done some major damage at the non-graded level with five mostly blowout wins and a second by 1 ¼ lengths after bobbling at the break. Savvy horseplayers should hope the public overlooks MR. BUFF and that his odds head higher.

SEA FOAM (PP: 7 ML 4-1) is the third choice and will be trying for his third win in a row. Jockey Joel Rosario has taken the son of MEDAGLIA D'ORO to the front for the Waterville Lake Stable's barn in the pair of trips ending in the winners' circle. Unlike MR. BUFF who is in poor form and moving down in class, SEA FOAM is moving up to maximum his potential winnings while in good form.

BANKIT (PP: 5 ML 6-1) is the last of the horses with morning-line odds of less than 10-1. Trainer Steve Asmussen is handing the reigns to one of the nation's top jockeys, Irad Ortiz, Jr. He piloted BANK IT four races back, finishing third behind FUNNY GUY and MR. BUFF. Ortiz left the chute eighth of nine and didn't have enough late to get past the win and place horses. It would not be surprising to see a replay today with BANKIT lagging early and doing all he can to make up for it late; however, the pace could work against him again today.

OUR LAST BUCK (PP: 1 ML 15-1) might be the best bet if you are looking to play a longshot. He's making his third start off the bench after showing much improvement if race two compared to his return to the tack on the September 2nd. He's just a neck away from winning four of his last five starts and finished second in the other, be it 13 behind the victor. Two of those wins and the neckly second happened at Belmont. He just might be a horse for the course.

It should be a good day to find value at Belmont Park as many of the favorites look beatable today.


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