Belmont, Race 1: Optional Claiming $14,000/N1X at seven furlongs for NY-breds
I know that Escapefromreality (#7) isn’t going to present great value here, but I don’t see how he can lose this race and, as a member of my “Horses to Watch” list I have to post a wager on him. I was hoping Soul House would stay in since he was likely to garner some play, but after the scratches this looks like a paid workout for Escapefromreality.
$25 Win 7 (WINNER; Payout: $33.75)
Belmont, Race 5: Maiden Special Weight at six furlongs on the turf for two year-old fillies
This race is wide open and many of the firsters have pedigrees that suggest they could be runners. However, I’m going to go with the one horse who has a race under her belt. Richies Party Girl (#5) really had no chance in her debut. After breaking slowly Dylan Davis took a hold of her–usually not a great idea in a four and a half furlong sprint. She took a hard bump entering the turn before trying to make a run from last in the stretch. Now she gets to turf, which should move her up. Her dam won 9 of 30 turf starts and this filly is a half-sister to turf stakes winner Strategic Partner. Also, Wesley Ward is very good with moving two year-olds from the dirt into turf sprints (5 for 19 over the past five years).
$10 Win 5 (WINNER; Payout: $23.50)
Belmont, Race 6: Optional Claiming $14,000/N1X at six furlongs for NY-bred fillies and mares
Copper Bluff (#8) might be completely ignored on the tote board, but I think she has a legitimate chance to win this race. She ran figures as a two year-old that would make her competitive in this spot with even a smidgen of improvement and maturity. Perhaps I’m being too forgiving by ignoring her form from the inner track at Aqueduct, but she did have some excuses in those races. On December 26th the track was strongly favoring inside speed and she never had a chance to get involved in the race. Then on January 18th she made a middle move going two turns, which is probably farther than her optimum distance. Last time she was bad, but something may have happened during that race since she’s been laid up since. She returns with a steady work pattern and I like her chances.
I’ll bet her to win and use her behind White Crane (#1), Thepowersthatbe (#3), Polan (#5), and Run a Dubb Dubb (#7) in the exacta.
$10 Win 8
$2 Exacta 1/3/5/7 with 8
Belmont, Race 8: The Fairy Garden Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on the turf for fillies and mares
The filly I’m most looking forward to betting in here is Free as a Bird (#6). I know she hasn’t been tested for class yet, but I think she’s on the precipice of turning into a stakes quality filly. I believe she would have won last time if Prado wasn’t forced to take her to the front. She’s a tricky filly to ride since she gets a little rank and really needs to be covered up early. That was her undoing at Churchill and last time she didn’t really settle down until about a quarter mile into the race. With Baffle Me in here, she should be able to take up a spot in behind her and Future Generation and wait for Prado to produce her in the stretch. I’d love to get her 10-1 morning line odds.
Speaking of Baffle Me (#4), I don’t think she’s without a chance to wire the field. Last time Trujillo gave her a terribly indecisive ride as he perched her outside of horses for most of the trip. She has one weapon and that’s her speed. I’d expect her to try and break away from these fillies early and, if she can take enough of an advantage into the stretch, she may be a factor at the finish. She’s certainly not the most likely winner, but if she’s a big price I’d want to have her on my ticket.
$10 Win 6
$5 Win 4
Belmont, Race 9: The Poker Stakes (G3) at one mile on the turf
I see this as a two-horse race between Data Link and King Kreesa. I’ve heard other handicappers talking about the speed duel that is going to work in Data Link’s favor but I don’t really get this line of thinking. Big Screen showed speed last time over a sloppy racetrack that was favoring frontrunners, but he’s typically a stalker. I also think it shouldn’t be ignored that Irad Ortiz is the regular rider of Big Screen and would know better than anyone what he has to do to get King Kreesa out in front of that rival early. Albertrani apparently thinks Big Screen deserves another chance on the turf (he does have some pedigree for it) so I doubt he’s running him to just to get burnt out in a duel.
Obviously I see King Kreesa (#6) as the potential lone speed once again. While I’m not predicting he’ll get to waltz through a 47 and change half like he did last time I also don’t think he’s going to have to lay down the fractions he did in either the Fort Marcy or the Appleton. Data Link may be G1 quality, but I think King Kreesa is nearly as good when things go his way and that just might happen this afternoon.
$15 Win 6 (WINNER; Payout: $82.50)
Belmont, Race 10: Claiming $20,000B at 1 1/16 miles on the turf
My top pick is “Horse to Watch” Wishingonadream (#9). He was in great form during the late summer and early fall last year and unfortunately had less than ideal trips in his two final starts of 2012 at Aqueduct. His race at Saratoga on August 29th was truly a remarkable effort and hints at what he’d be capable of if he could actually get the right sort of ride. There’s not much speed in this race and I think he could be forwardly placed and get a stalking trip in behind Radiohead. Junior Alvarado is by far the best jockey that’s been on his back in a very long time. While the layoff is a concern, he’ll be a big enough price that I can ignore that potential negative.
$10 Win 9