Belmont, Race 2: Maiden Special Weight at one mile for NY-bred two year-olds
Groupthink figures to go favored once again, but I don’t think he has any real edge over this field, especially stretching out in distance. He can certainly win, but I’m more interested in a couple of longer prices.
Deceived (#4) probably isn’t a turf horse so I’m willing to excuse his last race. Prior to that he had put in a good run in his debut when he took plenty of money and was hindered by a slow start. He dropped well off the pace, but was doing some decent running in the stretch when finishing behind next out winners Free Mugatu and Empire Dreams and just in front of next out winner Fox Rox. He’s bred to run much farther than five and a half furlongs being by Broken Vow out of a mare that has produced millionaire New York-bred Naughty New Yorker and stakes winning router Pupil, who is a three-quarter sister to this horse. I know that he appears to be slower on paper, but he has plenty of upside and I expect him to run very well at a square price.
I’ll also use Sioux (#5), who just feels like the sort of horse who could take a major step forward in his second start. Mike Hushion usually does much better than with his second time starters and this one will certainly benefit from the stretch out in distance. His dam is a half-sister to Florida Derby (G1) winner Vicar, who earned over $800,000 during his career. She’s also a half-sister to four other six-figure earners including stakes-winning routers Final Escrow and Sheepscot. This one could show more speed today with the addition of blinkers and is worth a shot at anything around his morning line odds.
$15 Win 4
$10 Win 5 (WINNER; Payout: $57.00)
Belmont, Race 5: Claiming $35,000B at one mile on the turf for fillies and mares
The scratch of Wickapecko opens this race up to some other contenders. Ephyra should be the favorite, but she’s certainly not the most trustworthy one. Her race at Delaware three back would make her pretty formidable, but her two most recent efforts and the subsequent drop in class don’t exactly inspire great confidence.
I’ll instead go with Elusive Design (#4), who is much better than she appears on paper. The chart callers totally missed her bad trip last time as the “quick tuck ins, 3w upper” description does not do this trip justice (Watch the replay). Elusive Design was off slowly and then tried to work her way up through traffic to get position in mid-pack. She was in a pretty good spot around the far turn, but as horses in front of her steadied and started fading around the five-sixteenths pole, she was shuffled to the back of the pack. Manuel Franco got to work on her, but could not find a clear path for much of the stretch drive. He finally got clear sailing in the final sixteenth of a mile, but it was too late and she finished fifth. However, make sure to watch the gallop out as this filly quickly runs by the horses in front of her and has gone by the winner less than a furlong past the wire. I think she could have won that day with a better trip and I like the switch to John Velazquez today. The mile is obviously a question mark, but she’ll be a decent price so I’ll take a shot.
$10 Win 4
Belmont, Race 6: Claiming $16,000B at six furlongs on the turf for fillies and mares
The last two times that Fantastic Eyes (#3) has been dropped in for a tag she’s made short work of her competition with her quick turn of foot. She put in a nice effort last time against allowance company showing that she could still run good races for these new connections, but they have to know that she’s just a notch below the best fillies competing at that level. This race doesn’t set up perfectly for her since there isn’t a ton of speed on paper, but I expect her class to carry her to victory anyway.
$15 Win 3
Belmont, Race 7: Claiming $20,000B at one mile for fillies and mares
Hot Splash (#5) had no chance last time after sustaining a wide run around the far turn during a period of time when you needed to be on the rail. She also faces much easier competition today and I expect her to win as the best horse. This race is a little tricky because there is no clear speed on paper, but Hot Splash has shown tactical speed in past route races so I’m hoping that she can be more forwardly placed today. She’s a filly who went through a rough patch last winter and spring, but appears to be rediscovering her better form now. She’d be a good bet at 5-2.
$15 Win 5 (WINNER; Payout: $44.25)
Belmont, Race 9: Optional Claiming $35,000/N2X at 1 1/16 miles on the turf for NY-breds
It feels like I just can’t get in sync with Iron Power (#2). Two races back I thought that he couldn’t lose, but he was inexplicably dull in the stretch as he struggled home fourth behind some inferior foes. I couldn’t bring myself to like him again last time after such an abysmal effort, but he turned things around completely and destroyed a better group of horses in fast time. I do think that being forwardly placed early is a key to this horse’s success so I’m hoping that he doesn’t show any of his prior bad gate habits breaking from the rail today. I won’t mind him sitting just off Mia Poppy and Breathaway, who both appear to want the lead, but I don’t want to see him get shuffled back any further. Maggie Wolfendale has always insisted in the paddock that this horse wants to go a route of ground and he gets just that today. Whether or not he truly is physically predisposed to like this distance is hard for me to say, but I do think the dynamics of this race will suit him better than a sprint. I believe he possesses the most raw talent of anyone in this race and that’s why he’s my selection.
$15 Win 2
Belmont, Race 10: Maiden Special Weight at 1 1/16 miles on the turf for fillies and mares
I don’t have any concrete opinions in this race, but it’s such an interesting wagering races that I thought I’d try to take a couple of shots. I don’t really want the horses coming out of that September 26th race going 9 furlongs. I know that Giant’s Jewel probably ran the best race that day when Javier Castellano made a tactical error in sending her to the front so aggressively, but that was not the strongest field and I think all of those horses face tougher foes today.
I like Cloture (#4) the best. She showed some potential as a two year-old when McGaughey got her back on the turf for her third career start. Despite it being a maiden claiming race, she finished just behind subsequent stakes winner Emotional Kitten and stakes-placed Magnificent Shirl. She was put on the shelf after that, but returned last time getting Lasix for the first time in a pretty salty maiden race. The winner, Medea, appears to be pretty good, and second place finisher Pleasant Cat is a solid and consistent performer at this level. That race was also run over a very tiring turf course and the field was really strung out across the line. It would have been enough to get Cloture fit for this second start back from the layoff and I expect an improved effort today.
I’ll also make another smaller wager on Lemon Lashes (#3), who stopped abruptly in the stretch of her debut on Polytrack last spring. Something apparently happened in that race since she’s been off for over six months since then, but I like that’s getting immediately onto the turf today. Her dam was in the exacta in 8 of 10 turf tries and this expensive daughter of Lemon Drop Kid could give a much better account of herself today at a price.
$10 Win 4
$6 Win 3 (WINNER; Payout: $96.00)