Saturday, June 27
Race 3: Claiming $50,000 at six furlongs on the turf for fillies and mares
5 – Ecstatic Miss
If had originally skipped over ECSTATIC MISS (#5) and her seemingly erratic form on your fast pass through this race, I urge you to give her another look. Her form is a little buried, but the fact of the matter is that she is a decent turf sprinter that has been placed in the wrong spots for much of her career. She showed what she’s capable of when spotted appropriately last summer at Saratoga, a day on which she beat today’s rival Persnickity. Since then, her connections have realized that she’s a turf horse, but they’ve been running her in races that are too ambitious. Last time, what chance did she really have at 150/1 in the Intercontinental? She actually didn’t run that badly, all things considered, but she should appreciate the drop in class today.
The pace of this race will do her no favors, but unless you’re a fan of Benny’s Bullet getting back on turf, that’s a concern for any of the contenders in here. If the pace is slow, I’m hoping that the pack is tightly bunched and that Ecstatic Miss’s late kick proves superior in the lane.
$15 Win 5
$4 Exacta Key Box 5 with 1,3,7
$2 Exacta Key Box 5 with 4,6
Race 6: Allowance N1X at six furlongs
8 – Joking
I don’t have to tell you that Victory is Sweet is the horse to beat. He is very fast and a repeat of his last race will probably make him the winner. However, he will have to face pace pressure from The Big Deluxe, who his capable of some big performances in his own right.
JOKING (#8) is not as fast as either of those horses on paper, but I believe that he’s going to get an ideal pace setup today, something that he has rarely encountered over the past several months. Joking showed that he was capable of being competitive at this level last time and it’s conceivable that the early pace of this race could be even more heated. At odds of 5/1 or higher, I think Joking is worth a play here.
$15 Win 8
$10 Exacta Key Box 2,8 (Payout: $57.00)
$5 Exacta Key Box 6,8
Race 8: Allowance N1X at 1 1/4 miles on the turf
5 – Make a Decision
Go Around undoubtedly has the most upside of any runner in this race, and while I think he may be the most likely winner, I doubt you’re going to get anywhere near his morning line price of 3/1. This just feels like a promising, lightly-raced horse that is going to be overbet.
For that reason, I’ve decided to bet the horse that I think is the second most likely winner, MAKE A DECISION (#5), and I think he’ll offer much better value. Make a Decision really came into his own last year, and showed marked improvement when stretched out to distances of a mile and an eighth and beyond. I’m unconcerned about his dull return effort since he’s needed his first race back off a layoff in the past. Javier Castellano should have him placed up close to what is likely to be a slow pace and I think he’s a threat to post the mild upset.
$15 Win 5
$10 Exacta Key Box 4,5
$5 Exacta Key Box 1,5
Race 9: The Mother Goose (G1) at 1 1/16 miles for three year-old fillies
10 – Wonder Gal
3 – Hot City Girl
The more I thought about this race, the less afraid I became of the horses exiting the Kentucky Oaks. At first, Include Betty and Eskenformoney looked very appealing to me, but in reality, how good were their Kentucky Oaks efforts, and how good are the fillies they were chasing? Was that group really better than the competition Wonder Gal faced in the Acorn? I’m on the fence about that.
In my opinion, only one filly in this race has proven that she’s Grade 1-quality, and that’s WONDER GAL (#10). After all, despite the fact that she’s rarely respected at the windows, she’s now placed in three Grade 1 stakes races, while the rest of the field is a combined 0-for-3 in that department. The distance shouldn’t pose a problem, and she’s posted very well on the far outside, so Rajiv Maragh should have plenty of options on the long run down the backstretch. A price of 3/1 or higher would be excellent value on the most likely winner.
Include Betty looks like the main threat on paper, but she can be a tricky filly to ride since you have to time her move just perfectly, and I’m not sure that I want to trust a rider with so little experience riding over Belmont Park’s expansive oval.
Eskenformoney was eliminated at the break of the Kentucky Oaks and actually got a very good ride from Javier Castellano thereafter. However, even if you draw a line through that race, are her Gulfstream efforts really good enough to justify her being a short price in this race? I think the jury’s still out about just how good she is and she’s likely going to take money today.
As for my second pick – I know, you probably think I’m crazy for endorsing HOT CITY GIRL (#3) in this race, but I firmly believe that we have yet to see the best of this filly. Three back, her inside post position necessitated that she race on the worst part of the track on a day when the rail was dead at Laurel. Then two back, she may have disliked the mud when beaten by eventual Acorn runner-up By the Moon. Her effort last time out in the Bouwerie is worth watching. She was shuffled back at multiple points on the turn, had seemingly lost all chance of making any kind of impact by the top of the stretch, but actually finished up strongly through the lane once clear. Yes, she’s slow, but I believe she could have run a Beyer in the 80s with a fair trip last time.
However, what really intrigues me is that it’s so aytpical for Linda Rice to just takes shots in these races. Linda has a fantastic record in graded stakes races on dirt over the past 5 years – 9-for-25, 36%, 15 ITM, for a $2.84 ROI – and she hasn’t compiled those numbers by running many hopeless long shots in major races. It’s not as if there was nowhere else to run, since she surely was eligible for last weekend’s off-the-turf NY-bred stakes against a much weaker field. I think Hot City Girl may be sitting on the best race of her life, and given the suspect quality of this field, don’t be surprised if she’s able to snag a big piece of this purse at astronomical odds.
$25 Win 10
$10 Win 3
$6 Exacta Key Box 10 with 2,3,9 (Payout: $159.00)
$4 Exacta Key Box 10 with 4,5,8
$2 Exacta Key Box 3 with 2,4,5,8,9
Race 10: Maiden Special Weight at 1 1/16 miles on the turf
4 – Brittania’s Moat
I’m committed to betting back BRITTANIA’S MOAT (#4) after he got caught up chasing a very fast pace going a mile and three-eighths last time. His effort two back would make him competitive here and I think we may see his best race yet today as he cuts back to a more appropriate distance.
Security Risk, Shinobi, and Doc Curlin are the others that I’ll use, but I believe that this is the time to strike with Brittania’s Moat.
$15 Win 4
$4 Exacta Key Box 4 with 7,9,11