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Blog - GAMBLING

Flat Out won the Suburban Handicap over the Belmont track in 2012 (Photos courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire).

Be it ever so humble there’s no place like … Belmont Park.

Just ask Flat Out.

The 7-year-old horse has enjoyed a special bond with the Elmont, N.Y., track in recent years. He’s raced there three times and has yet to lose, a feat that takes on extreme significance with an understanding that two of the wins came in the 2011 and 2012 editions of the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup.

Clearly Flat Out has an affinity for Belmont Park, and that fondness should come in handy on Saturday. After a pair of disappointing efforts in his first two 2013 starts, Flat Out returns home to the friendly confines of Belmont for the $150,000 Westchester Stakes and sticks out as the one to beat.

While a fifth-place finish in the New Orleans Handicap and a fourth in the Donn Handicap raise legitimate questions about Flat Out’s current form, shifting to Belmont and facing lesser competition in a Grade 3 stakes should alleviate them.

An extra furlong might come in handy, yet even at a mile Flat Out has enough speed, class and past success on the track to handle his seven rivals.

Trainer Todd Pletcher sent out Graydar to defeat Flat Out in both the New Orleans and Donn, and this time he will saddle a couple of formidable rivals for the 7-year-old.

Cross Traffic has only raced twice, but he was ultra-impressive in winning a Gulfstream Park allowance race by 7 ½ lengths in lightning-fast time on March 10.  Cross Traffic may not have the seasoning of others in the field but his raw talent alone paints him as the one who would benefit most if Flat Out’s funk continues.

Pletcher’s other starter, Mordi’s Miracle, comes off a promising second in the Grade 2 Excelsior while making his stakes debut, and he should benefit from a slight cut back to a one-turn mile.

Big Screen also is coming off a huge victory in an allowance race and the Westchester will serve as a litmus test of sorts for the 4-year-old, who will give away one big advantage to Flat Out. He’s 0-for-2 at Belmont Park, a.k.a. Flat Out Downs.

Ehalt’s selections

1. Flat Out

2. Cross Traffic

3. Mordi’s Miracle

4. Big Screen

$150,000 Westchester  Stakes

Saturday,  Belmont Park, Race 9, 4:58 p.m. ET

3-year-olds and older, one mile

PP

Horse

Jockey

Weight

Trainer

Odds

1

Mordi's Miracle

C P DeCarlo

117

T A Pletcher

10-1

2

Cross Traffic 

J Castellano

117

T A Pletcher

5-2

3

Flat Out 

J Alvarado

119

W I Mott

7-2

4

Winslow Homer 

R Maragh

117

C C Brown

10-1

5

Rattlesnake Bridge 

J Lezcano

117

K P McLaughlin

5-1

6

Norman Asbjornson 

J Rose

119

C A Mancilla

15-1

7

Big Screen 

I Ortiz Jr.

117

T Albertrani

3-1

8

Pants On Fire 

P Lopez

119

K J Breen

10-1

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Image Description

Bob Ehalt

Bob Ehalt has been an avid fan of Thoroughbred racing since that day in June of 1971 when he and his father walked from their Queens Village, N.Y., home to Belmont Park to see Canonero II fall short in his bid for the Triple Crown. A veteran sports writer and correspondent for Thoroughbred Times magazine, Bob has covered horse racing for more than 20 years and has won three awards in the Associated Press Sports Editors national writing contest for his coverage of the sport.

Now working at the New Haven Register in Connecticut, Bob has also owned Thoroughbreds since 1995 and was a member of the syndicate that raced Tale of the Cat. He also writes a racing blog for ESPNNewYork.com and is the co-founder of the New York Hot List handicapping service, which is offered at InterBets.com.

His NTRA.com blog received first-place honors in the 2008-09 Breeders' Cup Media Awards, winning in the initial year of competition in the Social Media category.  You can follow him on Twitter at @BobEhalt

 

Image Description

Bob Ehalt

Bob Ehalt has been an avid fan of Thoroughbred racing since that day in June of 1971 when he and his father walked from their Queens Village, N.Y., home to Belmont Park to see Canonero II fall short in his bid for the Triple Crown. A veteran sports writer and correspondent for Thoroughbred Times magazine, Bob has covered horse racing for more than 20 years and has won three awards in the Associated Press Sports Editors national writing contest for his coverage of the sport.

Now working at the New Haven Register in Connecticut, Bob has also owned Thoroughbreds since 1995 and was a member of the syndicate that raced Tale of the Cat. He also writes a racing blog for ESPNNewYork.com and is the co-founder of the New York Hot List handicapping service, which is offered at InterBets.com.

His NTRA.com blog received first-place honors in the 2008-09 Breeders' Cup Media Awards, winning in the initial year of competition in the Social Media category.  You can follow him on Twitter at @BobEhalt

 

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