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SportsHorseracing

Steve Matthews' Belmont selections for Friday, Oct. 2

Best bet: BLOOD MOON (1)

Best value: EMPRESS LUCIANA (2)

FIRST: Blood Moon drops and owns field's fastest late-pace figures on best efforts. Bank Gala took backward step in last after fast-figured win in prior; rebound threat. Super Wicked Charm is riding a forward line on the numbers; price will be tempting.

SECOND: Empress Luciana was speed-sharpened when making first start since two-month absence last time; duly tightened in weak field. Wishes and Dreams could be in the garden spot if pace meltdown ensues. Lady Commissioner was a clear-cut second in last at Finger Lakes; must consider.

THIRD: Merlins Muse fired 3-furlong bullet since willing fourth in budding key race last time; rates close call. Risky Mischief was a determined winner in lone turf start; dangerous. Speightstown Gal consistently delivers strong efforts; logical, short-priced player.

FOURTH: Undine gets the meds and compiled tight work tab for potent second-out stable (Brad Cox). Halo City owns four seconds from nine starts; runner-up again? Back Channel is another that nibbles (two seconds and a third from three starts) but can't get the job done; proceed with caution at short odds.

FIFTH: Sargeant Drive makes third start of form cycle and could be ideally positioned in the stalker's seat. Bobbyfromthepalm was done in by poor start last time; worth long look. Daddy Knows plunges significantly in first start since February; fire sale?

SIXTH: Gauguin has drilled twice since improved placing in last; breakthrough predicted. Junkanoo fits classic Chad Brown profile (fresh, sharp works); obviously could take this. Doswell was a front-running maiden winner in last; speedy and dangerous.

SEVENTH: Malibu Luna should find 7-furlong trip right in her wheelhouse. Lutescoot N Boogie could prove very tough if allowed an unchallenged lead. Full of Fire outworked 112 rivals in half-mile drill on Sept. 20; stay tuned to the tote.

EIGHTH: Dante's Fire is training with a purpose for first start since July; only member of field with win on Belmont sod. Plot the Dots fired 5-furlong bullet since last start; very playable. Irish Mias was compromised by wide trip when an even fifth in Grade 3 Saranac Stakes last time; right in the thick of this.

NINTH: Hold the Salsa has drilled three times since even fifth in last; improvement predicted. Thin White Duke bested top selection by more than four lengths when winning Funny Cide Stakes last time; could easily take another. Lookin for Trouble set the splits and weakened for third in Funny Cide last time; front-running threat.

10TH: Money in the Bank was an ultragame second in last and could fall through the cracks in the wagering. Frat exits much-improved placing in last; dangerous. Fast Gordon, another that was second in last, makes third start since six-month layoff; big-time threat. Boom Boom Kaboom could impact if fractions get hot and hectic.

New York Sports