I have opinions in eight of the nine races today, which is an usually high number for me. I just see quite a few vulnerable favorites and many wide open races. I’ll try to keep the analysis brief:
Belmont, Race 1: Claiming $35,000-$25,000 at seven furlongs on the turf for fillies and mares
Voodoo Tales (#7) ran a race on turf as a two year-old that really was not all that bad. She finished behind graded stakes-placed Wave Theory on that afternoon at a distance that is probably farther than her best. She was put back on the turf to kick off her three year-old season after a five-month layoff and while she may have needed the race, she set a fast pace that completely collapsed. There’s enough turf pedigree here to suggest that she deserves another chance over this surface and I love that she’s finally sprinting on grass. There isn’t much other speed in this race and I think she’s a threat to wire the field. I’ll bet her to win and use her under logical favorite Viva Allegiance (#8), who drops slightly in class.
$10 Win 7
$5 Exacta 8-7
Belmont, Race 2: Maiden Special Weight at one mile for two year-old fillies
I’m not really crazy about any of the fillies who have already run on dirt and there’s a filly in this race that I’ve been waiting to bet back out of her debut. America (#5) was entered on turf first time out, but Maggie Wolfendale commented in the paddock that she does not really look like a turf horse and was probably just being given a race first out around two turns. I don’t know how good she is, but she never really had a chance to run that day. The pace was extremely slow and she just ran along at the back of the pack and could make no late impact when the race turned into a sprint to the finish. I think she should improve second time out with that race under her belt and I think it’s a good sign that Mott switches her immediately to dirt. Mei Ling and Spanish Gold appear to be the main threats, but I didn’t like the way the former came to halt at the end of her last race and the form of the latter’s debut hasn’t exactly held up.
$15 Win 5 (WINNER; Payout: $88.50)
Belmont, Race 3: Claiming $35,000B at one mile
Beat of the Drum (#8) put in a solid effort last time at a distance that is probably just a bit farther than his best. That was a very fast pace set by him and another horse that ran off together early on. Beat of the Drum won the battle, but lost the war as he was swallowed up by the closers in the stretch. All in all, though, it was a positive effort in which he finished well ahead of the other speed. I think this is a horse who is moving in the right direction and that he can have a major say in this spot. I’ll bet him to win and use him underneath Third Knight (#1), Candy Raider (#33), and El Oh El (#6) in the exacta.
$10 Win 8
$2 Exacta 1/3/6 with 8
Belmont, Race 4: Optional Claiming $50,000/N2X at 7 furlongs on the turf for NY-bred fillies & mares
This is a tough race. I’ve ultimately landed on Mah Jong Maddnes (#10), who I’m hoping has finally turned a corner and is ready to put together back-to-back winning performances. She was very good last time and before that ran a race earlier this spring which would make her very tough in this spot. She’s not a filly who likes to be buried down inside, which has been the case in some of her poorer performances, so I like that she drew the outside post today. This is her best distance and I think she can win at a square price. I’ll bet her to win and use her underneath Roses for Romney (#1), who can do better than her last effort and may get loose as the main inside speed today.
$10 Win 10 (WINNER; Payout: $79.00)
$5 Exacta 1-10
Belmont, Race 6: Starter Optional Claiming $50,000 at six furlongs on the turf for fillies and mares
I’ve been waiting to bet back Guyana Princess (#4) in a sprint race every since her monster effort three races back when she was left at the start and made up a huge amount of ground to be fifth (Watch replay). There should be enough pace to set up her late run with both Insolvent and Currency Union possessing speed. I think Guyana Princess is the best horse in the race if she can get up in time, but I’ll also use her underneath Trail Walker (#1), whose best efforts make her a danger from just off the pace.
$15 Win 4
$5 Exacta 1-4
Belmont, Race 7: Maiden Claiming $50,000-$40,000 at six furlongs on the turf for two year-old fillies
This is purely a pedigree play. Asserted (#5) gets Lasix for the first time today as he is transferred into Joe Imperio’s barn for his New York debut. He also gets on turf for the first time and his pedigree indicates that he should like it. His dam is a half-sister to the champion Chief Bearheart, who won the Breeders’ Cup Turf and earned over $3 million on grass, as well as Explosive Red, who won $800,000 while racing primarily on turf. Flower Alley is a decent enough turf influence and I think this horse will take a step forward today on grass.
$10 Win 5
Belmont, Race 8: The Coastal Stakes at 1 1/16 miles for three year-olds
With some pace signed on here, I’m pretty interested in Favor Factor (#7), who gets back on dirt for the first time since his debut. He’s certainly bred for dirt and ran very well in that first start at Saratoga last summer as he was bumped hard at the start and made a good late run to finish just behind stakes winners Clawback and Revolutionary in a live race. The distance should be no problem and I expect him to work out a good trip from a few lengths off the pace.
$10 Win 7
Belmont, Race 9: Optional Claiming $20,000/N1X at 1 1/16 miles on the turf for fillies and mares
With all of the scratches here, Princess Mara (#2) just appears to be left as the lone speed and I think she can wire this field. I don’t particularly like the probable short price The Lady Says Yes, who was beating up on weaker last time and am definitely against Sophie’s Turn, who couldn’t have gotten a more fortunate trip when breaking her maiden. Satin Sheeks (#1) is the one who is probably the best horse in the race, but I wonder if she’ll be compromised by the pace. As the fourth or fifth choice, I’ll take my chances with Princess Mara on top and will use her with the aforementioned runner in the exacta.
$10 Win 2 (WINNER; Payout: $41.50)
$5 Exacta 1-2