Belmont, Race 1: Claiming $25,000B at one mile on the turf
There are many things to like about Prudent Investor (#6) in this spot. Depending on what I’m Wide Awake does from the rail post position, Luis Saez could find himself on the lone speed since Prudent Investor appears to be significantly faster than all of the others early on. Dominic Galluscio sports good numbers first off the claim, but those numbers are even better when you narrow the sample to horses to whom he gave them a 45 to 90 day layoff before starting again (11-for-30, 37%, $4.55 ROI). That is the case with Prudent Investor, who returns a fresh horse today. I’m happy to see the addition of blinkers, since he showed a tendency to drift out in his last start. He’s also a very game horse who is reluctant to give up the lead once he makes it and I think he’ll be tough to pass in the stretch. His morning line odds of 7-2 would be great value on him.
$15 Win 6
Belmont, Race 3: Optional Claiming $100,000/N3X at seven furlongs on the turf
I can’t resist horses like Hierro (#9). He’s finally making his turf debut after a career of mixed results on dirt and his pedigree suggests that he should love it. He’s a half-brother to three turf winners, one of which was multiple turf stakes winner Cherokee Triangle. I also think it’s noteworthy that Hierro’s biggest success on dirt came on a sloppy sealed racetrack at Churchill Downs in the Derby Trial, which is a scenario that turf horses can often handle. He should work out a great trip today stalking the pace of Sayaad, Happy My Way, and Folk Singer. I’ll bet him to win and use him in the exacta with Nine O Wonderful (#4), who appears to be back in good form and should be flying late.
$10 Win 9
$5 Exacta Box 4/9
Belmont, Race 5: Maiden Special Weight at 1 1/16 miles on the turf for two year-olds
I’m not convinced that this is a particularly strong two year-old maiden race, which is why I’ve gone in a wacky direction. Mr. Speaker ran very well last time and would be tough to beat today if he repeats his last effort, but others who will take money like Breakeven Analysis, Patent, and Smooth Daddy, just have not impressed me yet.
I’m taking a chance with Big Daddy B (#9), who did clip heels in the stretch of his debut, but basically just picked up the pieces in a slow race. The switch to turf, however, is what intrigues me. Two of this horse’s three siblings to try the turf won over and it, including Unbridled Essence, a graded stakes winner on turf. Neither that sibling or the other turf winner in the family were by as prolific a turf sire as Scat Daddy and I think you can reasonably expect Big Daddy B to take a big step forward today. Whether that makes him good enough to win today remains to be seen, but he’s going to be a huge price and his pedigree suggests he may fit here.
$10 Win 9
Belmont, Race 6: Optional Claiming $14,000/N1X at six furlongs for NY-bred fillies and mares
This is a weird race. I suppose that Kitty Panda and Fiftyfour Forever are the two main players, but I don’t really trust either of them at relatively short prices. I honestly don’t know if there’s going to be enough pace for her, but Maxana (#7) ran a couple of races over the summer that would put her somewhere in the mix today. Last time she was running at a distance that is too far for her and she got a ridiculous ride from Junior Alvarado, who guided her into the five-path for the run around the far turn when the rail was strong. That was her first start for trainer Richard Schosberg and I expect her to run much better today. She’s clearly not the most likely winner, but she’s going to be a huge price and I don’t think she’s totally without a chance and could be passing most of the field in the stretch.
I’ll also throw a few dollars on Eyes of Midas (#5), who showed nothing on the turf last time, but ran a couple of races at Aqueduct before the long layoff which were okay. She would only need to improve slightly off her maiden score and she was compromised by a tangled start in the Shopping Spree Stakes on New Year’s Eve. She may be no worse than Kitty Panda if she can bounce back to her better races.
$10 Win 7
$6 Win 5
Belmont, Race 8: The Pebbles Stakes at one mile on the turf for three year-old fillies
The pace of this race could go a number of different ways. If no one goes with Tapicat early then she’s going to be tough to beat, but I have a feeling that she’s going to get plenty of pressure with speed types like Teen Pauline, Mariel N Kathy, and Discreet Marq also in this race. With that in mind, I’m going to take a shot with Frege (#5) to come running late. Perhaps she’s not quite this good, but I believe the pace scenario will play to her advantage and there’s a real chance that she could take a step forward off her last effort. She’s worked very strongly since that race and Mark Hennig does well with horses making their second starts back from long layoffs.
I’ll bet her to win and use her under the three logical favorites in the exacta.
$10 Win 5
$4 Exacta 3/6/8 with 5