Race 7: The Sands Point Stakes (G2) at 1 1/16 miles on turf for 3-year-old fillies
There is a major standout in this race and I’m not going to try to beat her. Somali Lemonade (#3) really impressed me last year as a two-year-old with last-to-first runs in her debut at Belmont and the Jessamine Stakes at Keeneland. She was unlucky in the Breeders’ Cup when race dynamics and a wide trip worked against her. Most recently, she put in a solid return effort when second behind the very good Dayatthespa, who really got the jump on her that day. Now she finally gets back to 1 1/16 miles, which should be a better distance for her, and the wide, sweeping turns at Belmont. There is no pace once again in this race, but Somali Lemonade just looks better than these horses and should have the best late kick if it turns into a sprint to the wire.
Race 8: The Ogden Phipps Handicap (G1) at 1 1/16 miles for 3-year-old and up fillies and mares
Again, I don’t have anything really clever to say here. This is a two-horse race between Awesome Maria (#2) and It’s Tricky (#4). My preference would have to lean towards It’s Tricky just because she’s a horse I like to root for and also she is surely going to be a higher price than the streaking Awesome Maria. Some may try to say that up-and-comers like Cash for Clunkers and She’s All In have the speed figures to be competitive here, but I need to see it against top class company before I will buy into those two. Awesome Maria and It’s Tricky are two of the best female racehorses in the country and they will take quite an effort to beat one, let alone both of them.
Race 9: The Acorn Stakes (G1) at one mile for 3-year-old fillies
I see this as the spread race in the Pick-4. Contested (#1) looms a strong favorite, but I still have some questions. You can make the case that the track at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Oaks day was really carrying speed horses, and while she was no doubt much the best in that spot, the fast time may have been aided by the racetrack. Contested is also going to have to negotiate the mile for the first time after putting away the very quick Aubby K. (#6), who will try to wire this field. Horses like On Fire Baby (#3) and Zo Impressive (#4) clearly make a lot of sense after solid tries in longer races. And I’m even going to give a chance to Sacristy (#5), who could come running late if the pace heats up, and Hard Mystery (#2), whose last race was just too good to ignore even though it came out of nowhere. Basically, I’m pressing the ALL button in this race and hoping to beat Contested.
Race 10: The Metropolitan Handicap (G1) at one mile for 3-year-olds and up
I was extremely impressed by the return of To Honor and Serve last month in the Westchester and I think he may have taken a step forward this year as a four-year-old. That said, I like him better in races like the Whitney at Saratoga. I just think that he is going to be hard-pressed to stay with Shackleford early and I’m not sure he has the grit to withstand the late charges of Jackson Bend (#6) and Caleb’s Posse (#3) at a one-turn mile. I see this race as a repeat of the Carter Handicap, except this time the pace is stronger and Caleb’s Posse very likely gets it done. Jackson Bend is obviously a strong win candidate and if this comes down to a stretch duel like last time, you can never count him out. I’m rooting for the two closers, but whatever the outcome, it should be a fun race to watch.
Here’s the Pick-4 play, starting in Race 7:
$1 Pick-4 3 with 2-4 with ALL with 3-6 ($24)