Here are some quick thoughts on today’s selections:
Belmont, Race 1: Allowance N1X at 1 1/16 miles on the turf for NY-bred fillies and mares
This is not the strongest field that’s been assembled for this level at the meet and that’s why I’m going for a bit of an oddball horse. Kate Is A Ten (#8) is a turf horse who has been forced to race on the dirt the last couple of times due to races switching surfaces. All things considered, she still didn’t run that badly. She was effective when finishing third two back and then never had a chance last time after a wide trip when the rail was the place to be. Going back to her turf races, her maiden win was okay and her two prior efforts look a lot worse than they were since she got a couple of bad trips. I like the trainer change to Mark Hennig, whose horses have been running very well lately, and think she isn’t that much worse than the top contenders even though she’ll be a much larger price.
$10 Win 8
Belmont, Race 6: Maiden Claiming $25,000 at 1 1/16 miles on the turf for fillies and mares
If Bargaining Table (#4) ever breaks well and gets a clean trip, I think she’ll prove good enough to win a race at this level. I’ve had a thing for her so I can’t go against her today, but I’ll also use Notional Girl (#10), who has just faced better horses in her three career starts and may still have some room to improve.
$10 Win 4
$10 Win 10
Belmont, Race 8: Claiming $35,000B at 1 1/16 miles on the turf
I’m a little skeptical of the likely favorites, Saved the Best and Odeon. Saved the Best’s last race was excellent, but that was a day when the turf course had taken some rain and some horses just seemed to handle it very well while others did not. River Boss, who nailed him on the wire that day, came back to disappoint and I want to see that sort of effort again before I believe that he’s really this good. Odeon’s best races obviously would make him tough, but I wonder about where he’s been for the past five months.
I’ll go with a more reliable option in Wind of Bosphorus (#8), who turned in a huge effort last time when he set a fast pace and very nearly hung on late. A repeat of that effort would make him very tough to beat. He’ll probably need to stalk today with other speed signed on, but he’s been effective employing those tactics in the past.
I’ll also make another smaller wager on Ruthless Alley (#2), who will also have to stalk the pace today, but who has form from earlier in the year that is better than it looks. He faced very tough fields in each of his allowance starts this past May and will appreciate the class drop today. I don’t know where he’s been recently, but unlike Odeon he will be a large enough price to warrant taking a shot.
$15 Win 8 (WINNER; Payout: $63.00)
$6 Win 2
Belmont, Race 9: Claiming $20,000B at seven furlongs on the turf
This is another oddball pick and I will readily concede that my selection may be more likely to finish last than first, but I’ve found enough reasons to take a chance on him at a huge price. First of all, there is no early speed in this race and Coach A.J. (#10) should be as loose as can be on the lead. This is a horse who had shown some ability over the winter and was poised to run a huge race on April 17th when he got back on turf at Aqueduct. He was leading some good horses into the stretch that day before ducking in and crashing into the rail (watch the replay). He was apparently both physically and mentally scarred by the incident and Linda Rice took a long time to get him back to the races. He returned dropping down at Saratoga and couldn’t get the mile after setting a fast pace. The owners transferred him to John Mazza and I think he’s started to show some life. He flashed some of his early speed two back and then last time he never was given a chance to run. After getting squeezed out at the start, he was forced to rate near the back of the pack. This was not the game plan and Junior Alvarado just seemed to try and save the horse for another day. He barely even moved on Coach A.J. in upper stretch and then just gave him a few token slaps of the whip in the final eighth (watch the replay).
I have no idea if he’s good enough to compete with this field, but he gets in very light and will be allowed to set his own pace up front. I’ll bet him to win and use him under the other contenders in the exacta.
$10 Win 10
$2 Exacta 1/3/5/6/8 with 10