Belmont, Race 1: Starter Allowance $50,000 at six furlongs for fillies and mares
If Bobby Jo runs her last race she may just be impossible to beat here. She was facing a better rival in Famous Rose and really ran a gallant race to just miss by a half-length. It was such a huge effort off the claim that I wonder if she can possibly repeat it here. With the possibility of she and the Mike Maker entrant taking most of the play I’m hoping that Hey Babe (#6) is a little overlooked on the tote board. She has clearly run some of her best races sprinting on the dirt and I’m hoping the turn back works for her here. She never had a chance last time after rearing at the start and may have just not cared for the sloppy track. It would be drying out by today’s first race and I like her to win this in a mild upset.
$10 Win 6 (WINNER; Payout: $85.00)
Belmont, Race 5: Allowance N2L at 1 1/16 miles on the turf
Stormy Len (#3) appeared to be too fresh first time back from the layoff last time and was very rank for much of the race. Still, he never quit and ran on strongly to the wire while being in an uncomfortable position for much of the stretch drive. He should have gotten something out of that race and will likely be set for better today. He has a strong pedigree to handle today’s yielding turf course since his dam is a full-sister to Dynaforce, who loved boggy going and won the Flower Bowl here over soft ground. His dam is also a half-sister to Cetewayo, another millionaire turfer who handled less-than-firm turf. If Velazquez gets him until a comfortable stalking position today he should be tough for this field to handle.
$15 Win 3
Belmont, Race 6: Optional Claiming $62,500/N2X at 1 1/16 miles on the turf for fillies and mares
I’m very skeptical of Floral Romance. That allowance win at Gulfstream was visually impressive, but it was an exceptionally weak field for the level, especially after her chief rival Riolama misfired. The time was not particularly fast and I think it was a case of a horse looking a lot better than she likely is due to the competition. Also, where has she been since December? I know she ran well fresh last time, but you have to think there are some nagging problems with this filly.
Puzzling (#4) and Deanaallen’skitten (#3) aren’t superstars, but they both hit some of the best form of their careers as Gulfstream was wrapping up and each are proven over less than firm turf courses. I prefer Puzzling after her huge performance last time when blinkers were added, but this looks like a strong exacta box.
$8 Exacta Box 3/4 (WINNER; Payout: $95.20)
$5 Win 4
Belmont, Race 7: Maiden Claiming $20,000 at 1 1/16 miles
This field certainly got smaller after all the scratches, but I still like the lone filly in the mix, “Horse to Watch” Taylor Jagger (#13). She was very green early in her debut breaking slowly and then bolting wide into the first turn before settling down. She really didn’t run badly that day and had every right to move forward off that race. However, her connections stepped her up into an impossible spot against maiden special weight company next time and she was predictably outrun. Now she drops back to a realistic level and with routine improvement I think she’ll step forward enough to handle this field.
$10 Win 13