Race 1: Maiden Special Weight at 1 1/16 miles on the turf
STRIKING STYLE (#3)
I am not at all afraid of Lady Lavery or Giant’s Jewel, who both can win, but really aren’t that good. I like STRIKING STYLE (#3), who actually ran pretty well with some trips in her two year-old turf races and could be set for a move forward after a respectable return on dirt. Striking Style’s race on September 27th of last year at Laurel is a good race to watch, since it hints at her potential. She was away very slowly and then got herself into a bad spot in behind some tiring horses on the far turn. She was blocked all the way into the stretch, but really came running through the final quarter mile after she got clear. The winner of that race is a pretty nice horse and Striking Style may have won that day without all of the trouble she encountered.
$15 Win 3 (WINNER; Payout: $138.00)
Race 5: Maiden Special Weight at six furlongs on the turf
BLUE CHIPS ONLY (#9)
A Marked Man is a deserving favorite after a decent try against—albeit weak—stakes company last time. I’m slightly less enthusiastic about Latigo Trail, who ran very well against lesser last time, and Dowse’s Beach, who turns back. I’m going to take a small shot against all three of them with BLUE CHIPS ONLY (#9), whose dam was a pretty good turf horse. He showed last time that he as at least a little bit of ability and if he moves forward on turf he’s a major factor here.
$10 Win 9
Race 6: The Belmont Sprint Championship (G3) at seven furlongs
CLEARLY NOW (#3)
SALUTOS AMIGOS (#7)
I know that I’ve been a little too faithful to CLEARLY NOW (#3), who has disappointed more often than not, but I still believe that he’s superior to his competition today. Central Banker is a nice horse, but he’s gotten perfect trips in his best efforts (I disagree with those that say he moved too soon in the Malibu). I believe that all Clearly Now needs is a moderately clean break to defeat Central Banker.
I’ll also use SALUTOS AMIGOS (#7) a little bit since I think he will do better at seven furlongs. That fast-paced True North just got away from him early last time, but he was really running through the lane. I prefer him to Palace, who I respect, but he’s questionable beyond six furlongs.
$20 Win 3 (WINNER; Payout: $64.00)
$10 Win 7
$5 Exacta Box 3,7
Race 7: The Belmont Derby (G1) at 1 1/4 miles on the turf for three year-olds
MR. SPEAKER (#9)
GAILO CHOP (#7)
These two turf stakes for three year-olds are wide open affairs where you can make interesting cases for many horses. I have to give MR. SPEAKER (#9) another shot. I had thought he was the best three year-old turf horse in the country prior to the Pennine Ridge, and he just didn’t show up at all that day. The effort was almost too bad for me to believe and for Shug McGaughey to be running him back in this tough spot, he has to think that he had some excuse last time. He should be double-digit odds today, but I think his best effort gives him a chance.
Adelaide (#4) has to be considered the most accomplished of the European runners after his second place finish to the very promising Eagle Top in the prestigious king Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot a few weeks ago. However, I think it’s worth noting that two races prior to that, Adelaide raced in France where he split two horses (Free Port Lux and Gallante), whom Gailo Chop has defeated in his two most recent wins. Perhaps Adelaide has improved since then, but I wouldn’t say that he has a huge class edge over GAILO CHOP (#7), who should be a much more inviting price.
I’ll bet Mr. Speaker and Gailo Chop to win, since I think they’ll both offer value, but I’ll also both with Adelaide in exotics.
$15 Win 9 (WINNER; Payout: $367.50)
$10 Win 7
$2 Exacta Box 4,7,9 (WINNER; Payout: $288.50)
Race 8: The Suburban (G2) at 1 1/4 miles
Romansh (#6) is clearly the horse to beat. He’s really gotten his act together since that baffling non-effort in the Donn earlier this year. He ran better than I would have expected in the Met Mile at a distance that is probably just short of his best whereas today’s mile and a quarter is well within his wheelhouse.
He’s a must-use in multi-race wagers, but I’ll take a small shot against him with MORENO (#11). As a three year-old he was every bit as good as, if not better than, Romansh and he could play out as the main speed today. That’s significant because it has not been the case in his three starts so far this year where he’s encountered one competitive pace after another. He’s best when he can control things up front and if that scenario plays out I believe he’ll be tough to catch.
$15 Win 11
$5 Exacta Box 6,11
Race 9: The Belmont Oaks (G1) at 1 1/4 miles on the turf for three year-old fillies
I respect the Europeans, especially Xcellence (#7), who was competitive in some presigious Group Ones in France. I’ll use her in exactas and mutli-race wagers, but I’m going to take a small shot with some longer prices. I want two horses coming out of the Wonder Again, though not the perfect trip winner Sea Queen.
RECEPTA (#10) was sitting in a perfect position that day before MINORETTE (#9) ranged up outside while in the midst of a premature move. I felt that Junior Alvarado too readily conceded his position and let the race get away from the grinding Recepta at a critical point in the running. I don’t think the mile and a quarter will be an issue since there’s plenty of stamina on her dam’s side and progeny of Speightstown, quite surprisingly, are 7 for 19 at distances of a mile and a quarter and farther. Minorette may have run the best race that day as she moved too soon and was nailed on the wire, but she, too, may like this distance and could rebound with a more patient ride. I’ll use both to win and will box them with likely favorite Xcellence.