I’ve taken a look at Pimlico’s Black Eyed Susan day card and have opinions in a few of the races, which I will explain at the end of this entry, but I’ll be primarily focusing on Belmont today. Tomorrow is another story since I’ll be making the trek down to Pimlico for the Preakness. I’ll try post my Preakness day picks later tonight.
Belmont, Race 1: Claiming $15,000B at six and one-half furlongs for fillies and mares
This is not a good field and easily the softest group Warrior Marie (#3) has faced in quite some time. She was badly tailing off towards the end of Aqueduct’s inner track meet and her connections wisely gave her some time off. She’s since returned with a pair of solid workouts and I’m hoping it’s an indication that she’s feeling good once again. The drop in class makes sense so I’m not too worried about it and anything close to her best race will probably be good enough to win.
$10 Win 3
Belmont, Race 2: Starter Optional Claiming $35,000 at 1 1/16 miles on the turf for fillies and mares
I had some trouble with this race, but I eventually decided that I wanted to bet on my opinion of the strength of that April 19th race that Al’s Rosie (#2) and Stick to Your Guns (#7) are coming out of. They finished seven lengths clear of the rest of the field that day, which is a large margin on the turf. The winner, Exchange Cat, came right back to finish an excellent second behind the promising Bella Castani in a stakes race early in the Belmont meet. I think they each still have room for improvement and they may be better prices than horses like Original Kitten and English Rhythm.
$10 Win 2 (WINNER; Payout: $87.00)
$5 Win 7
Belmont, Race 3: Maiden Claiming $50,000-$40,000 at one mile
“Horse to Watch” Puget Sound’s (#1) dirt race on March 21st is probably already fast enough to win this, but you have to upgrade that performance even further since he was trying to make a wide rally on a day when you needed to be on the rail. The claim by David Jacobson and the rider switch to Junior Alvarado have the potential to make him even tougher here and I think he’s a solid bet at odds of 2-1 or higher. I don’t trust Tapulous off the trainer change and I wonder if Political Farce really wants to go this far.
$15 Win 1 (WINNER; Payout: $55.50)
Belmont, Race 7: Maiden Special Weight at six furlongs on the turf for NY-bred fillies and mares
“Horse to Watch” Hot Rendezvous (#9) is my best bet of the day. Betting back horses who tried to make closing runs on the turf on September 8th has been very fruitful. It was the first day of Belmont’s fall meet and there were high winds coming at the horses down the stretch, which made it very difficult for closers to make up any ground on either surface. (This was also the day of Orb’s 20+ length maiden defeat at short odds.) Out of the particular race in question that Hot Rendezvous is exiting both Frosty Bay and Fantastic Eyes, who were also hampered while trying to make closing runs, eventually returned to turf to win at hefty mutuel payouts. Hot Rendezvous showed that she has a bit of ability in her debut, which was a better effort than the paltry Beyer speed figure would have you believe. She’s a lot better than she looks on paper and Gary Contessa knows how to get a horse ready off a long layoff. There are a lot of things to like and she should be a decent price.
$15 Win 9
Belmont, Race 8: Optional Claiming $25,000/N1X at six furlongs
The pace of this race is a bit hard to read since I’m not sure if anyone is going to try and go after Shock’emagain early. Regardless I don’t think that one is good enough to win this so I’m looking for a horse to pounce from just off the pace. David Jacobson sports pretty good numbers and positive ROI bringing horses back from short layoffs and turning them back in distance. That is what he’s doing with Irish Lion (#1), who probably needed a break after tailing off towards the end of this winter. His prior sprint efforts all came early in his career before he established himself as the solid racehorse he is today. If he can stay within a few lengths of the pace early I think he’ll be tough to hold off in the stretch.
$10 Win 1
Pimlico, Race 5: Allowance N1X at 1 1/16 miles on the turf
I’ve been waiting to bet back Hear the Word (#3) since Saratoga last summer when he was stymied in traffic for much of the stretch run on August 19th and should have won. After a poor effort in an odd spot going 12 furlongs next time he was put away and apparently changed barns. He now returns in a perfect spot going 1 1/16 miles on the turf and I think his best races will make him very tough to beat.
$10 Win 3
Pimlico, Race 9: The Jim McKay Turf Sprint at five furlongs on the turf
I have nothing against Bridgetown or Ben’s Cat. They are both excellent turf sprinters, but they will also be short prices here and I’m not sure that they are that much better than my selection, Spring to the Sky (#1). Spring to the Sky was forced to run in some tough spots going long last summer but really responded to a turnback to a more appropriate six furlongs towards the end of the season. He was excellent that day running down the fleet-footed Sum of the Parts and I think his best turf sprint stacks up with the better known names here. It’s also worth noting that if Bridgetown lets him go early that he could play out to be the main speed of this race and would then be very dangerous to wire the field.
$10 Win 1
Pimlico, Race 11: The Very One Stakes at five furlongs on the turf for fillies and mares
Sweet Cassiopeia is almost certainly going to be overbet based on her impressive five-race win streak. I have no real knocks against her aside from the price, but I want to bet back one of the horses who she defeated last time. It felt to me like Sensible Lady (#3) badly needed her last race off the layoff. She made a strong move coming to the top of the stretch as if she was going to go by them all and then just seemed to flatten out. She has plenty of races last season that are better than that and with a slight move forward I think she’s the filly to beat today.
$10 Win 3 (WINNER; Payout: $46.00)