12/29/2016 3:49PM

Meadowlands: Saturday 12/31 Analysis

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Best Bet: K LEES SHAKENBAKE (2nd)

Spot Play: CITY HALL (6th)

Race 1

(3) THISGUYSAROCKSTAR has been mired with unlucky draws of late. Veteran finally gets the relief he needs and falls into a blank group. (6) CITY PIE was decidedly overbet at 1/2 while falling short in this class. Russo-trained gelding can bounce back at better odds. (1) VERSADO has a ton of back class with $1.2 million in the bank but needs to find a bit more courage than he's mustered up in recent weeks.

Race 2

(4) K LEES SHAKENBAKE returns to the level that he dominated two starts back. Classy veteran is always at his best when not engaged early and should take these whenever called upon. (8) DOWNTHEHIGHWY hasn't been able to get untracked as yet since arriving for Burke. Indiana-bred takes another drop. (7) TITUS SEELSTER has qualified sharply for his return but may be in need of a start.

Race 3

(5) CHILLN MATISSE handled this level with relative ease three starts back. Art Major-sired gelding drops a notch on his return from Harrah's and figures to be aggressively handled. (10) PICKWICK had things his own way in his local debut and gave way without much of a fight. Soph lands outside again and is hard to accept at short odds. (8) NEXT OF CAM sports an interesting record but has obviously been facing weaker company.

Race 4

(4) CENTURY CHURCHILL moves into the Johnson stable off a sharp win at Woodbine. Nicely-bred gelding somehow managed to go winless in his first 30 career starts but has won twice in his last five races. (2) MAAJAACKKOBE returns to the big track and somewhat weaker competition and appears the horse to beat. (8) DASH OF DANGER was most impressive in his first local trip for Burke and company. Western Terror-sired gelding has an impressive pedigree and may in fact be able to handle the rise in class.

Race 5

(4) ALBERTO CONTADOR N is a hard-hitting import that held together well upon arriving last week and missed but a length to the hottest horse racing at The Big M. Cassar-trained gelding drops a notch and seems primed. (5) URBAN RENEWAL tries claimers to get into this class and may have something in store for these. Soph has been razor sharp. (9) CALVIN B is as good or better than these when on his game; only question is time off.

Race 6

(7) CITY HALL has climbed the class ladder here in impressive style winning from impossible spots at will.  Riding a four-race winning streak this Amber Buter trainee has never been better and should get the job done again. (1) LIMELIGHT BEACH is the sharper of the two Burke entrants here. He showed pace at both ends of the mile at Yonkers racing against a solid group. (8) POLAK A is a gritty import that has been doing some of his best racing towards years end.

Race 7

(3) MARINER SEELSTER has been in raging form for Mark Ford and appears to have the spot necessary to be positioned well ahead of the known closers. (8) ELRAMA N has been vicious recently for Russo but finds a much more imposing group this week and draws outside. (10) ASHLEYS HUSBAND is another with impressive credentials that simply does not like to leave.

Race 8

(2) PREPARTY was just too far back to threaten in his first trip here. Harmon-trained gelding gets significant post relief and should be aggressively handled. (5) GAMBLERS TALE is Brett Miller's choice of two here and can certainly be excused for last with broken equipment. (9) QUALITY CLOSER looks for his 10th win of the season but needs to overcome the outside lane.

Race 9

(2) REAL NICE has shown good foot finishing in both local starts while lacking a realistic chance. One-time Levy final champion continues to battle at a high level. (3) BLATANTLY BEST couldn't get into the action coming without cover which has never been his game. Veteran can bounce back with a better trip. (5) HILLBILLY HANOVER has a ton of class and must be considered in this company.

Race 10

(2) LEGION OF BOOM had been quite sharp racing at Harrah's this fall. Fusco-trained 4-year-old qualified back in solid form and has a decided position advantage over most contenders here. (1) DURANT makes his first start for Foster following a claim and is in below the claiming tag; hard to gauge whether the drop is desperation or brilliance. (3) VICEROY HANOVER appears to be a solid one-run type that will need the pieces to fall into place perfectly.

Race 11

(6) TAURANGA has needed a few starts to get back in form and hinted at improvement upon dropping to this level. (4) WHATAORSE is likely to take some action off the solid win at this level last week. (5) MR BLISSFULL came up a little short from the outside in last; better spot here.

Race 12

(10) ALEXIE MATTOSIE has been knocking on the door recently without getting the job done. Ageless wonder was outkicked by a runaway train in last but doesn't find anyone here with that ability. (6) ALWAYS A DIAMOND steps up a couple of notches off a solid win and appears set for minor spoils. (8) NORTHERN ASSASSIN A may need to leave the gate from this spot.

Race 13

(7) CMON MR BROCK ships south with Saratoga idle and appears to be razor sharp for Spagnola. (2) STIMULUS PLAN has been on quite a form spree and again moves up off the second straight claim. (4) TO BEACH HIS OWN is a stout closing threat.

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