Belmont, Race 3: Claiming $15,000B at six furlongs
Tizmas is a deserving favorite in this race, but you have to wonder about his current condition after he’s been off for three months and returns for much lower claiming price than what they paid for him. What makes the drop even more baffling is that he was in good form prior to being sidelined and it feels like they’re just giving him away today.
The problem is that there aren’t very many appealing options with which to take a shot against the favorite, but I’ll take a shot with Curve Ball (#4). He ran a race for David Jacobson on June 22nd that would be good enough to win this before being claimed out of that race by Gary Gullo. He then showed up at Saratoga in a very tough $20,000 claimer. Every horse who finished in front of him that day would be a major contender in this race and I just feel that it’s a performance that isn’t as bad as it looks when it’s put into context.
$10 Win 4
Belmont, Race 6: Maiden Special Weight at seven furlongs on the turf for NY-breds
This is a bit of a guess in a tough race, but I cannot ignore the turf pedigree on John Silver (#3). I suppose the connections did not think much of him before his debut since they ran him for a $20,000 tag, but perhaps he just needed the race as today George Weaver adds blinkers and switches him to what should be the right surface.
All three of John Silver’s siblings won on turf including Show Me the Cash, who was second in the Pilgrim Stakes (G3) on grass as a two year-old. Silver Wagon is actually not a terrible turf influence as he’s gotten a few winners from limited starters. I know that this horse needs a complete form reversal, but if it’s going to happen it should be today.
$10 Win 3
Belmont, Race 7: The John Hettinger Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on the turf for NY-bred fillies and mares
I’ve been a longtime Dreaming of Cara (#2) fan and I’ve thought for quite some time that there’s a New York-bred stakes race out there with her name on it. Perhaps this is the one. In the absence of Hessonite and Dayatthepsa, this is a pretty wide open affair and I still believe Dreaming of Cara may be the most talented of the bunch.
Her return race this year in the Mount Vernon Stakes was a very strong effort. She lagged well back behind a slow early pace and then ran into some traffic troubles in the stretch when she was making her late run. I think that she could have been right there with a better trip. She subsequently ran three times at Saratoga, twice on the turf and once on the dirt. She was too close to the pace in the On the Bus and then she got no pace to run into in her following allowance race. Her best effort may have been her latest on the dirt in which she was just caught in behind horses at a few critical points in the race, but displayed good stamina to stay on until the end.
Despite what her overall record indicates, she is a better turf filly and I think she’s found the right field today. Wholelottashakin, Inimitable Romanee, and Effie Trinket are all pretty good, but so is Dreaming of Cara and she is certainly going to be much larger price. With speed types Harbor Mist and Effie Trinket in here the pace should be fair, so hopefully she can sit a covered up trip in midpack before angling out in the stretch to run them down.
$15 Win 2
Belmont, Race 9: The Ashley T. Cole Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on the turf for NY-breds
I see that Kharafa was made the morning line favorite, presumably because he is supposed to play out as the lone speed, but I wonder if he really wants nine furlongs. I’m more inclined to take horses who are proven at the distance and of those Hangover Kid (#7) appears to be in the best form right now. I don’t think you can view his last two races as flukes any longer. He put in a huge late run to get up for third in the United Nations and then put in the same late run at a shorter distance in the West Point at Saratoga. The sweeping turns at Belmont will only help his cause and I just think he’s going to be very tough to hold off late.
Lubash is clearly the ‘other’ horse, but I always worry about him in races such as this where the pace is going to be slow. He has a tendency to get very rank when he isn’t covered up in behind horses and with his outside post I wonder if Junior Alvarado will have a tough time riding him. Compliance Officer is the question mark. He may have needed his last race, but that was not a very good effort and he’ll have to take a huge step forward today.
I’ll take Hangover Kid and will hope for anything at or above his morning line of 3-1.
$15 Win 7
Belmont, Race 10: Maiden Special Weight at seven furlongs on the turf for NY-bred fillies and mares
I haven’t been that impressed by the fillies who figure to be the top betting choices in here so I’m looking for a couple of prices.
Bi Light of Day (#9) has not put it all together yet, but I think that today might be the day that she is able to break through with a top performance. She was hindered by gate issues in her first couple of starts and just found herself too far back to make a late impact. She was also very green in the late stages of that Saratoga turf sprint and was drifting in for much of the stretch run. She’s not a dirt horse, but it was a positive sign to see her break cleanly last time and if she is able to do so again today I think she’ll have a chance to win.
I’ll also use Lakeview Lady (#12), who ran a very nice race in her debut last fall at Belmont as a two year-old. She was claimed by Jason Servis over the winter at Gulfstream, but did not resurface until the last day of August at Saratoga. That race came off the turf, but Servis left her in apparently to just give her a race back from the layoff. He has excellent numbers coming second time back from a layoff of six months or more, but more importantly, Lakeview Lady gets back on the right surface today. She’ll be a decent price and with routine two year-old to three year-old improvement I think she’ll have a chance.
$10 Win 9
$10 Win 12
Woodbine, Race 8: The Northern Dancer Turf Stakes (G1) at 1 1/2 miles on the turf
I was very pleased to see David Donk taking a shot in a race like this with Stormy Len (#6). I’ve been saying all along that this horse wants to run as far as they write races and the connections apparently feel the same way as they could not wait to stretch him out to a mile and a half. There is nothing but stamina on the dam’s side of his pedigree as she is a sibling to turf millionaires Dynaforce, winner of the Flower Bowl (G1), and Cetewayo, who won the mile and a half Sword Dancer (G1) in his greatest triumph.
Stormy Len, once a “need the lead” type, has learned to relax in his recent races and can stalk a pace set by either Irish Mission or Turkish. He should be in front of Forte Dei Marmi as the field turns for home and can get the jump on that main rival. Forte Dei Marmi is a nice horse, but he’s been beating up on a very weak group of older turf horses in Canada and I think it’s fair to wonder if he’s as good as he once was. While there are no Wigmore Halls or Joshua Trees in this year’s race, Stormy Len is an up and coming three year-old with a ton of ability I think he’ll be a formidable foe for the favorite.
I’m not sure that I’ll get the 6-1 morning line, but I’m betting Stormy Len to win nonetheless.
$20 Win 6