Last week was one of the roughest in recent memory in the wagering department. I have a feeling I was not the only one in such a predicament given the string of improbable winners, but losing still takes a bit of a toll.
I’ve regrouped and have come up with a few opinions on today’s card, but be forewarned that these races are tough. I had thought about taking a swing at the Pick-6, but after handicapping the races in that sequence I think it’d be best if I save my money for another day. In any event, these are the races I will be playing:
Belmont, Race 2: Optional Claiming $25,000/N1X at 6 1/2 furlongs for fillies and mares
I was actually happy to see Bridghampton scratch out of this race since I thought she was going to be tough for these to handle and her absence makes this a more open wagering affair. I’ve landed on Daddy Loves Gold (#6), who tries the dirt for the first time. I suppose that you could view this as a desperate move by Bill Mott since this filly has disappointed in two turf races against winners, but I wonder if Daddy Loves Gold should have been running on the dirt all along. Yes, she is by Scat Daddy, but there really isn’t any turf pedigree on the dam’s side of her pedigree. Instead, there are some strong dirt bloodlines. Her dam is a three-quarter sister to $600,000 earner Not Abroad, a multiple stakes winner on dirt, and Brushed by Love, another dirt stakes winner. Her second dam, Timely Broad, was also an excellent dirt runner who placed in many graded stakes and won the Sabin Handicap (G3) at Gulfstream.
Daddy Loves Gold is not one of those turf runners with a quick turn of foot, whose run is usually mitigated by a more demanding dirt surface. She’s more of a grinding type who should be able to use her early speed to stick with Merry Meadow early and hopefully outlast that foe through the stretch. I’ll bet her to win and use her under the promising Single Forever and hard-knocking NY-bred Cape Cod Carol.
$10 Win 6
$4 Exacta 3/5 with 6
Belmont, Race 4: Maiden Special Weight at one mile for NY-bred fillies and mares
I’m taking a shot with one current “Horse to Watch” and one former such runner. Let Me Bet Nuts (#8) was added to my list after her debut in which she overcame a slow break and slow pace to charge past most of the field and get up for second. It was a huge effort and perhaps her connections brought her back too quickly for her next start, which came just 14 days later. She did not show up that afternoon and was subsequently given over two months off. She’s probably not really a turf horse, but she ran pretty well going two turns at Saratoga and signaled to me that today’s distance isn’t out of the question. If she is able to run back to her debut today I think she’ll win.
Prize Taker (#2) ran very well in her second career start, but was a serious disappointment at Saratoga and I removed her from my list of “Horses to Watch.” The claim by Charlton Baker is mildly interesting, however, so I’ll put a few extra dollars on her for good measure.
$10 Win 8 (WINNER; Payout: $51.00)
$6 Win 2
Belmont, Race 6: Allowance N1X at seven furlongs on the turf for NY-bred fillies and mares
The scratch of Image of Noon makes this race another puzzle. I’ve landed on a couple of fillies who are going to need some pace help, but they may get it with Lumineuse, White Sangria, and Atlantic’s Smile left in the mix. Both A Prettydixie (#2) and Desert Bliss (#4) are best at these one-turn extended sprints and I just feel that they may be a bit better than the two likely favorites, Ave’s Halo and Atlantic’s Smile. Ave’s Halo’s speed figures are consistently higher, but seven furlongs is a bit of a question and she was really helped by the lack of pace last time. I thought the field that Atlantic’s Smile beat last time was pretty weak and while this turnback helps, I want to wait and see if she’s ready to step right up versus winners before taking her at a short price.
A Prettydixie and Desert Bliss are not the most reliable winning types, but I don’t think you can seriously argue that they have “seconditis.” Rather they just haven’t quite gotten the job done against winners yet while still having run very well on a number of occasions. They have also both been hurt by circumstances on a number of occasions. Desert Bliss ran very well last time as she was the only horse to make any serious move into a very slowly paced race. A Prettydixie does not really want to go two turns, but before that had run a solid second to Roses for Romney after encountering traffic in upper stretch. These two should be decent prices and I’ll bet them both to win.
$15 Win 4 (WINNER; Payout: $81.00)
$10 Win 2
Belmont, Race 8: Optional Claiming $62,500/N2X at one mile on the turf for fillies and mares
I’m not sure what price she will be, but I saw Anna Sophia as a horse that I wanted to bet against in this spot. Her recent form is terrible and even her good races from last season don’t make her all that scary in here. The trainer switch to Pletcher reads as terribly desperate as the connections are trying to revive this once promising filly. Pletcher is a good trainer, but so are Dale Romans and Bill Mott. I’m not biting.
I won’t argue with anyone who thinks Mariel N Kathy (#3) and Floral Romance (#6) are the two main players in here. They both ran very well in that Saratoga allowance race last time and neither would surprise me as the winner of this race.
That said, I’m going in a different direction. I may be a little biased because I made a huge score on her last time, but I don’t think Ready Signal (#2) is totally out of this. A mile is her best distance and she beat a pretty salty N1X field last time. She was also best when mired in traffic during the stretch run three races back and may just be a filly who is finally finding herself late in her four year-old season. At anywhere around her morning line of 15-1, I think she’s worth trying.
$10 Win 2
$4 Exacta 3/6 with 2
Belmont, Race 10: Maiden Claiming $25,000 at seven furlongs
This is a very confusing finale with horses coming from all sorts of directions. I’m only discussing the race because I have a contract with It’s Huge (#1). He’s just a horse who I think is a lot better than he appears on paper. He also has been the cause of his own problems on a number of occasions and he clearly has some gate issues. He ran well on May 3rd, but then was off slowly next time, and broke slowly again on June 23rd before rushing up and ultimately being pulled up in the stretch. Last time he returned after a short break and was again off a half-step slowly before being squeezed back out of position. On this day, however, he did not throw up the white flag and actually put in a decent late run to get up for fourth.
Perhaps the removal of blinkers will make a difference, but he needs to break cleanly. If that happens, he could find himself stalking St. Sincere in a race without much other pace and I don’t believe he’s that far behind many of the top contenders in here in terms of raw ability.
$10 Win 1