Belmont, Race 1: Optional Claiming $35,000/N1X at 1 1/8 miles on the turf for fillies and mares
I realize that Caxambas Pass (#9) looks inferior to the main players in this race on paper, but she fits a couple of Shug McGaughey’s most profitable trainer angles. Shug is the type of trainer who gives his horses plenty of time to find themselves and that’s what he’s done with this younger half-sister to Point of Entry. Yet when they do come to hand after several races, they tend to keep improving. This especially true of his turf routers. He has won with 8 of 35 last out turf route maiden winners over the past five years with an ROI of $3.43.
Caxambas Pass has not raced since her maiden win, which came nearly two months ago on July 31st at Saratoga. Some may view her absence as a negative, but this is one of Shug’s best angles. He is 4 for 9 with turf routers that broke their maidens in their prior start and are coming off 45-90 layoffs—this time to the tune of $7.51 ROI!
She has to step up her game, but she is physically similar to her older brother and perhaps will have benefited from the extra time since her last race. Wave Theory and Lady of Gold are both nice fillies and will be tough for any of these to handle, but I’ll take my chances with Caxambas Pass to win and underneath those two in the exacta.
$10 Win 9
$4 Exacta 3/7 with 9
Belmont, Race 5: Starter Optional Claiming $25,000 at 1 1/16 miles on the turf for fillies and mares
This appears to be a two-horse race between Shakeira and Edie with the former likely to go off as a solid favorite. I know that Shakeira was completely eliminated at the top of the stretch two races back, but it’s hard to make any excuses for her last race where she was just uncharacteristically dull. Chad Brown drops her into this easier spot seemingly to get a confidence builder into her, but I wonder about her current form and if she’s just gone sour after her rough trip in the On the Bus Stakes.
Edie (#1), on the other hand, is in the best form of her career and ran an excellent race last time to be third behind Hunter Forward, who returned to just miss against much tougher in the Lady Baltimore Stakes last weekend. Yes, Edie rode the rail for much of the way, which helped her cause, but she did angle three-wide in the stretch and was still getting to the top two late. I might have taken a shot with her in here even if the good Shakeira was certain to show up and it appears that’s no guarantee.
$15 Win 1
Belmont, Race 6: Claiming $20,000B at seven furlongs on the turf
I have no confidence in the horses who are likely to be favored in this spot so I’ll take a couple of shots with some longer prices. My guess is that the two top choices in this race will be Brown Indian and Dual Citizen, but I wonder if this likely pace scenario is going to hurt them. They both do their best when racing up close early and will have to chase a contested pace with Yield Bogey, Rangey, Perfect Trippi, and War Hitch all preferring to be up front as well. That is why I’m trying two closers.
My Pal of Pals (#7) may just be rounding into form now that he’s found a home in these conditioned claiming races. Two back he was mired in traffic for much of the stretch run and was basically eased across the wire as Junior Alvarado sensed the race was already over by the time he got clear. Last time he proved that the prior effort was not a true barometer of his competitiveness at this level when he stepped up and won despite drifting in through the stretch run. He’s not really a two turn horse and should appreciate this return to seven furlongs at Belmont, where he broke his maiden at long odds. I like that Alvarado knows the horse and I expect to see him charging late.
I’ll also throw a few dollars on Departures (#10), who is not the best horse in this race, but may benefit most from the projected pace scenario. He has on occasion run well enough to be competitive with this field and he’s run some of his best races at this seven furlong distance. I don’t think I’ll get his morning line of 30-1, but he is going to be a large price and he’s far from impossible if the race falls apart late.
$10 Win 7
$6 Win 10
Belmont, Race 8: Claiming $16,000B at 1 1/16 miles on the turf
I just feel that Mike and Rob (#7) is the best horse in this race. His maiden win on July 28th at Saratoga would certainly beat this field and last time he never really had a chance after being forced wide around the far turn and through the stretch on Travers Day. I can’t argue too much with this drop in class since he would be a long shot to win a first level allowance race against New York-breds and is very likely to take home the purse against this field. While it would be awesome to get his 6-1 morning line, I have a feeling he may be half of that price at post time.
I’ll bet him to win and use him with my old friend Cash Your Ticket (#4), who I wished I had cashed a ticket on last time when he finally validated my faith in him and stepped up to be second at this level. I think he would have won that day if he was every able to get outside and a repeat of that effort would put him in the mix here. I’ll box him in the exacta with Mike and Rob.
$15 Win 7 (WINNER; Payout: $43.50)
$4 Exacta Box 4/7