Belmont, Race 2: Maiden Special Weight at one mile for two year-olds
Races like this represent one of the best aspects of the Belmont fall meet—opportunities for the two year-olds that are bred to stretch out to finally get to do so. To say that there are some nice pedigrees in this race would be a vast understatement. You have Survival, going first time out for Shug McGaughey, who is a half-brother to both Point of Entry and Pine Island. You also have Mosler, going second time out for Bill Mott, who is a $1 million yearling purchase that is a half-brother to two-time Grade 1 stakes winner Contested.
And then you have the two that I’m most interested in, Long Water and Rebranded. Long Water is out of Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner and $2 million earner Round Pond while Rebranded was a $350,000 two year-old purchase who hails from the extended family of Lu Ravi and Halfbridled. I’m guessing that Rebranded is going to be a strong favorite in this race, perhaps even dipping down as low as even money. He was highly-touted prior to his debut and ran creditably to finish third while never really threatening the winner, Strong Mandate.
However, I prefer Long Water (#2) out of that race. While Long Water did not have any significant trouble, I feel that he was more against race dynamics as he tried to rally from last place. A half-mile in 45 3/5 seconds is a very soft fraction going six and a half furlongs at Saratoga and Long Water was the only horse to make any significant move into that slow pace. Based on his pedigree, he is supposed to love every bit of the extra ground he gets today and since he’s a two year-old coming out of the Kiaran McLaughlin barn I just feel that he’s more likely than Rebranded to take a major step forward here.
$10 Win 2
Belmont, Race 3: Optional Claiming $14,000/N1X at six furlongs for NY-bred fillies and mares
I’m not one to base my wagers solely on trainer angles, but I do feel there is a significant statistic for Jeremiah Englehart that should make you consider My Unbridled Storm (#2) in this race. While his first time off the claim numbers are mediocre with a low ROI, he does much better with his runners racing second time off the claim. Over the past 5 years he has won with 18 of 71 starters (25%) second time off the claim with a positive ROI of $2.09. Also, when coming second time off a layoff in conjunction with racing second time off the claim he has won with 5 of 14 starters with 2 second place finishes. What that says to me is that he’s a trainer who typically takes a month or two to figure out the preferences and quirks of new additions to his stable.
My Unbridled Storm’s last race was not terrible and she has prior efforts that would make her very competitive in here if she can get back to them. With speed likely coming from L B’s Expression and Sweet Maxine there should be enough pace to set up her late kick.
$10 Win 2
Belmont, Race 5: Maiden Special Weight at 1 1/16 miles on the turf for NY-breds
Really the only explanation that this selection requires is the viewing of a replay. Mister Dooley (#10) was much the best when he made his debut on July 19th but was done in by his own antics as he broke slowly and raced greenly throughout the race before lugging in badly down the stretch. He certainly would have won if kept to a straight course. H. James Bond has now had nearly two months to work out these issues and accordingly removes the blinkers from his equipment. I like the Luis Saez stays aboard since he’ll know what to expect and if Mister Dooley is able to run a more professional race he should win as a tepid favorite.
$15 Win 10
Belmont, Race 10: Allowance N1X at 1 1/16 miles on the turf for NY-breds
I love Noosh’s Tale (#5) in this spot. There is plenty of speed to set up his late kick and he seems to have an easier time mounting a rally around Belmont’s sweeping turns. That said, he did run two deceptively good races at Saratoga when he twice got shuffled farther back than I suspect Alex Solis wanted to find himself. Especially last time he was far off the pace on Travers day when the turf courses were holding up speed and he made up a ton of ground to get up for fourth while riding the rail. I have questions about all the other runners and I just think Noosh’s Tale is the best horse in the race. His morning line of 4-1 would be a real bargain.
$20 Win 5
Finally, despite the fact that it’s the wrong time of year for this, I’ll need to make a quick detour down to the Gulfstream in the middle of the day to catch the sixth race. There’s a “Horse to Watch” entered that I think may present a good wagering opportunity.
Gulfstream, Race 6: Maiden Claiming $32,000 at 1 1/16 miles on the turf for fillies and mares
Who would have thought that I’d still be betting horses who were hindered by that Aqueduct gold rail from last December 26th and 27th in September of the following year? Well, I didn’t, but here we are. Sethna (#8) competed in the final race on December 27th, another affair in which the speeds just hugged the rail and ran one-two all the way around the racetrack (replay). Sethna was never a factor, but was three-wide for much of the trip, which completely eliminated any chance she might have had of making a late impact. She lost by 21 lengths, but didn’t do that badly to have at least passed a few horses. (If you don’t believe that the bias could have been that severe, I suggest you go watch the races from those two days.)
Now she resurfaces in the barn of Ralph Nicks and is entered in a turf race. There is some rain predicted in Florida for tomorrow, but I will bet her racing on turf or dirt since she has pedigree to handle either surface. Perhaps she just isn’t that good, but she’s going to be a decent price and her last race is not a true barometer of her ability.
$10 Win 8