Belmont, Race 1: Maiden Claiming $75,000 at six furlongs for two year-old fillies
Of the horses who have started, I am most interested in Go West Marie (#6) who I think can wire this field. She was off a step slowly in her debut and did not respond well to racing in behind horses as she tried to lug out and ultimately was not persevered with through the stretch (Watch Replay). That was also a much tougher field. The winner Gracer appears to have some ability and the also-rans confirmed this in their subsequent starts. The second place finisher Potosi’s Silver returned to improve her Beyer by 18 points, and the third place finisher Mei Ling returned to improve her Beyer by 14 points. If Go West Marie breaks cleanly today she may have the speed to clear the field. She sold for 26 times her sire’s stud fee at auction earlier this year after working a furlong in 10 1/5 seconds so you have to think her connections would want to see some of that speed today. If she gets to the front and to the rail, I think she can win.
$15 Win 6
Belmont, Race 8: Maiden Special Weight at seven furlongs on the turf for two year-old fillies
While I respect the likely favorites here, Walk Close and Miss Lech, and will use them in multi-race wagers, I’m more interested in some other possibilities.
Trautman (#10) put forth a respectable showing in her debut as she chased along the inside before tiring slightly late and I’m glad to see her getting to the turf today. The female side of her pedigree is just full of turf horses; some good and some mediocre, but all of them raced primarily over grass. Her second dam Vilikaia, was a top notch turf sprinter/miler in Europe who finished second in both the Irish 1,000 Guineas (G1) and the Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp (G1). She didn’t quite replicate herself in her offspring, but her best foal was a turf stakes winner. She also produced Kivi, who was a minor winner during her career, but would go onto produce Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G2) winner Regally Ready. Trautman’s dam was the last of Vilikaia’s foals and if any of the strong turf pedigree of this female family carries through to her, she should move up with today’s surface switch.
I will also use Illapa (#3), who was a major disappointment last time, but may have not liked the softer nature of that turf course, which was run in the midst of the rains that came during that final weekend at Saratoga. Her debut was a very good effort in a strong race. She was racing strongly around the far turn before being steadied out of the race behind the tiring frontrunner (Watch Replay). Her dam, Catinca, was best from about seven furlongs to a mile so perhaps this slight turnback in distance will agree with her.
$15 Win 10
$10 Win 3
Belmont, Race 9: Claiming $35,000B at six furlongs
Clawback is clearly the class of this field, but you have to be concerned about the drop in class after the layoff for a horse who once showed so much promise. He is also a horse who wants to be in front and is drawn outside plenty of other speed. He is a bad bet at anything close to his morning line odds.
I prefer Dighton (#5), who will get plenty of pace to set up his late run and is ridden once again by Irad Ortiz, Jr., who has been very attuned to the nature of the main track and is likely to try to work out a ground-saving trip, much as he did on August 10th. I’ll bet him to win and use him in an exacta box with the Jacobson duo of Road Agent and Tricky Slam.
$10 Win 5
$4 Exacta Box 1/5
Belmont, Race 10: Maiden Special Weight at six furlongs on the turf for NY-bred two year-olds
I don’t trust anyone in this finale. I suppose that the most popular wagering options will be Maggie’s Lad, Maybrys Challenge, and Justice Dept, but I have questions about all of them and wouldn’t want to rely to heavily on any of them at shortish prices.
The two horses that I’m interested in are sure to be large prices, which is why I’ll take a shot. Junger (#3) was a horse that Maggie Wolfendale liked in the paddock last time as he was getting on the turf and I recommend that you watch the early portion of his race last time because it’s a bit better than it looks on paper (Watch Replay). He broke sharply to the inside coming out of the gate and then was rushing up to the lead before eventual winner Carolinian dropped over on him forcing Junger to steady sharply. From that point on he got a good trip racing keenly towards the inside before tiring in the lane. Perhaps the result would have been a little different if Junger had not encountered that early trouble and I would not be surprised to see an improved effort today.
I will also use Harbor King (#8), who should benefit from some pace in this spot and may have just needed his first race. There is plenty of turf pedigree on his dam’s side since this dam is a full-sister to Life Lesson, a turf sprint stakes winner, and they are both out of Wander Mom, a multiple turf stakes winner of nearly $400,000. It’s not like he has to improve that much to be a contender in this race and the the low-percentage trainer of this horse did win with a two year-old making its second start on the turf during the fall meet at Belmont last year.
$10 Win 3
$10 Win 8