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Steve Matthews’ Belmont selections for Friday, Oct. 20

Best Bet: GOLD SHIELD (8); Best Value: THADDEUS (9)

FIRST: Marriage Fever owns a sit-and-pounce running style that should be well served in small, but contentious opener. Flowers for Lisa regressed in last start after logging fast-figured win in previous race; bounce-back threat. Marriedtothemusic wheels back in a hurry after front-running victory this past Sunday; right in the thick of this.

SECOND: Artic Storm Cat runs late and should pack amplified kick with cutback to shorter route. Silky Way is speedy and could prove very tough with soft flow. Brooklyn Speights owns five seconds from 12 starts; logical threat.

THIRD: Dirty has trained sharply since game placing in debut; call in race in which four of the six are newcomers. Mad Munnys also has experience and should be aided by addition of blinkers and return to dirt. Mask debuts for Chad Brown after being bought for $685K as a yearling; no disguising this one.

FOURTH: Mascarello fired half-mile bullet drill since being pace and trip compromised in last start; breakthrough predicted. Uncle Chester is fresh, working with a purpose and could play out as the main speed; very dangerous. Hello Holiday drops and makes third start of form cycle; worth long look.

FIFTH: Special Dividend didn’t deliver on grass last time but owns solid dirt figures and could offer generous ticket. Big Mara has won three in a row and has been a hot property at the claim box; very playable. Court Dancer is speedy, owns fast figures and drops into a claimer; fire sale?

SIXTH: Dream Trip is working sharply for first start since gelded; controlling speed with aggressive handling. Nutzforboltz notched swift late-pace figure when a fast-closing second in last; big-time player. Long Night was a fast-figured winner on the Belmont grass on July 1; very interesting at juicy ticket.

SEVENTH: Bolita Boyz tallied swift final fraction when making wide move to get third last out; running style could be aided by probable pace dynamics. Bluegrass Singer owns fast internal numbers and looms the speed of the speed with hustling tactics; dangerous. Still Krz also is quick from the gate and makes first start since claimed by Linda Rice; must consider.

EIGHTH: Gold Shield is rested, training forwardly and was a winner after a layoff of similar time frame; history repeats. Roman Approval did the dirty work up front when a game second in last; very playable. Black Sea cut down Roman Approval in deep stretch to win last; obviously could take another.

NINTH: Thaddeus didn’t get away cheap when a determined, front-end winner last out; repeats. Combat Controller makes first start since claimed by David Jacobson and owns swift final numbers on “A” efforts; big-time player. Little Schmo is rested and outworked 71 rivals on Oct. 8; very playable. Here and There upped record to 2-for-2 at Belmont Park when a visually impressive winner on Sept. 16; right in the thick of this.

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