There’s really not a lot going on today in terms of wagering opportunities at Belmont, but there are a couple of horses I’ve been waiting to bet back in the second and fourth races and the seventh looks ripe for an upset as long as we’re still on the turf by then.
Belmont, Race 2: Optional Claiming $62,500/N2X at seven furlongs
It’s really hard to tell how much pace there is going to be in this race. Rein King should be in front, but you would have to think that Talk Therapy and Tiz Yankee will be in close pursuit to give themselves their best chance of winning. With that scenario in mind, I’m going to try to get Cease (#3) to run them all down late. I know that the seven furlongs is a major question mark for him, but his last race—his first start for David Jacobson—is better than it looks. That was a very slow pace that saw Bellamy Brew absolutely walking up front. The final quarter mile was run in 23 3/5 seconds, making it virtually impossible for anyone, Cease included, to make a late impact. Cease was also compromised further by having to go three-wide all the way around the turn on a day when the track was favoring inside paths.
I think Cease is the best horse in this race and is a bit dirtied up off his last effort. I’ll bet him to win and box him with Rein King (#5), who appears to be the primary speed.
$15 Win 3 (WINNER; Payout: $39.75)
$5 Exacta Box 3/5
Belmont, Race 4: Maiden Claiming $35,000-$25,000 at seven furlongs on the turf
I was probably reaching a bit when I picked Captain Keon (#6) last time in a much tougher maiden special weight. He was no match for that field, but I’m still going to apply the same reasoning today in this much easier spot. The fact of the matter is that his debut effort at Gulfstream last year would be good enough to win this race. The question is whether or not he can ever get back to it. His recent form does not look encouraging on paper, but his races are better than they look. He was completely eliminated just one furlong into his turf sprint return at Calder in the summer so that race is a toss out. He then tried to make a wide rally going two turns at Saratoga on a day when you had to stick to the rail and understandably flattened out. Last time he showed early speed before falling apart in the stretch. This distance should be perfect for him and I think he may still be good enough to beat this field. It’s not as if he was disgraced versus some of the shorter prices in this race two back and I feel that he can do better than that.
$10 Win 6
Belmont, Race 7: Maiden Special Weight at seven furlongs on the turf for two year-olds
I find it difficult to trust anyone in this race, which is why I’ve sprung for a horse who should at least be a decent price. Social Affair will probably go favored, but I question why McGaughey is turning him back in distance when his pedigree suggests that more ground will ultimately be what this half-brother to Dancing Forever will want. Double Whammy figures to attract plenty of support off his hefty purchase price and flashy dirt works, but I wonder why this colt is starting his career on turf. There’s not much pedigree and it’s not really Kiaran McLaughlin’s style to start his youngsters on turf unless they’re overtly grass meant, which this one does not appear to be.
I’ll instead go with School Yard (#2), who probably just wanted no part of that sloppy dirt track at Saratoga in his debut. Two of his three siblings to try the turf won over it and I expect him to move up with this surface switch today.
$10 Win 2