I’ll be taking a trip to Monmouth this afternoon, so I’ve highlighted some horses in a few of their races who I thought would be likely winners. My two Belmont opinions follow.
Monmouth, Race 2: Claiming $6,000-$5,000B at one mile
There are two horses in here with prior experience in graded stakes races and they are J W Blue and Goombada Guska. J W Blue will likely go favored as he ships in for David Jacobson, and while he takes a huge drop in class, I’m not getting very good vibes from him and wonder if he’ll be suited to Monmouth’s often speed favoring surface. Goombada Guska (#2), on the other hand, dropped to this level late last fall when he just went terribly off form after an encouraging start to the year. A trainer change to Joe Orseno and a layoff resulted in a good effort to win at Parx in February, but then he was badly outrun into two subsequent sprints. I’m hoping that the stretchout in distance can wake him up today because he certainly preferred to go two turns when he was his old self. The price should be decent.
$10 Win 2
Monmouth, Race 7: Claiming $16-$14,000B at six furlongs for fillies and mares
I can’t ignore the huge class drop for Horsin’ Around (#2). She had no chance last time after chasing a quick pace that collapsed against a field that was much tougher than this one. While her win here at Monmouth two back wouldn’t make her especially formidable for these, she had to rush up into a fast pace that day and I think it’s a better effort than it appears on paper. Her morning line of 5-2 would be a real gift.
$15 Win 2
Monmouth, Race 9: Optional Claiming $22,000/N1X at 1 1/16 miles for fillies and mares
Charity Ball (#4) is coming out of a race in which there was a complete pace meltdown. The fillies who were running 1-2-3-4 early finished 5-6-7-8 at the end while closers dominated. She likes to be forwardly placed and Junior Alvarado had no choice but to rush her up into that torrid duel last time. All things considered she hung on very well to be in contention until upper stretch and–contrary to what her printed PPs suggest–I think she’s moving in the right direction. I’m hoping that Bow Bells gets overbet here as she returns for Pletcher because I believe Charity Ball is the most likely winner of this race and her morning line odds would make her hard to pass up.
$15 Win 4
Belmont, Race 1: Starter Optional Claiming $20,000 at one mile
Caixa Eletronica (#5) is obviously the class of this field, but I have some questions. With the exception of an easy win to start the year in which he got to walk along on the lead, he hasn’t really picked up his feet yet in 2013. I’ve been watching this horse for too long to discount the possibility that he could rebound with this drop in class, but I think there’s another horse in this race who is in the best form of his life and could give Caixa Eletronica a tussle. Point Taken (#3) has been steadily improving since being claimed by David Jacobson in February. A switch to one-turn routes at Belmont has really agreed with him and he would be coming into this off a three-race winning streak if it wasn’t for some terrible racing luck last time (replay). If he is able to move forward enough to run a Beyer in the mid-90s then I think there’s a chance he could run down Caixa Eletronica late.
$10 Win 3
$5 Exacta 5-3
Belmont, Race 5: Maiden Special Weight at seven furlongs on the turf
I would want to bet “Horse to Watch” First Beach (#3) here on either dirt or turf, depending on the track conditions. He’s just a horse horse who badly needed his first race (replay) and should be set for much better with that experience under his belt. After breaking slowly Javier Castellano guided a very green First Beach to the far outside and he continued to race in the four or five-path around the turn. To avoid kickback, Castellano took him out into the seven or eight-path coming towards the top of the stretch at which point First Beach actually did some decent running to pass half the field and get up for sixth. He’s bred to run all day since he’s by a dam who won routing on the turf. Interestingly, his dam is a half-sister to the dam of stakes-placed dirt marathoner Oilisblackgold, who is also by Tapit. Despite his recent numbers, Jimmy Jerkens knows how to improve a second time starter and I think First Beach is very dangerous in this spot.
$15 Win 3