I have a couple of acquaintances on Twitter who accounted for two of the three winning tickets in the Pick-6 at Belmont yesterday. (Congratulations @Jaxsonhype and @DavidBarnettMVP!) For many, that’s a once-in-a-lifetime, life-changing score and it reminds me just how awesome this game can be if you’re smart and stick with it.
This Belmont meet has been one of my worst performances as a public handicapper. We all experience streaks of bad luck, and many of us are more prone to making mistakes when we’re losing. Yet, while the results have undoubtedly been discouraging, I have not lost faith in what I do.
Thanks for all the encouragement in spite of this losing streak. I’m very much looking forward to moving on to Saratoga next week, but for now I’ll give Belmont one last try on closing day.
Sunday, July 19
Race 1: Maiden Special Weight at 6 furlongs on the turf for NY-bred fillies and mares
6 – Outtacypresshills
8 – Congarette
In the opener, I expect the public to gravitate towards Wake Up Smiling and Hillaryinthehouse. Both have run just fine in all of their starts and are viable contenders, but I’m interested in likely third choice Outtacypresshills, who turns back in distance.
Outtacypresshills (#6) has improved on turf this spring, but I’ve wondered if distances beyond a mile are too far for her. After all, she is a half-sister to West Hills Giant, who is a little better going shorter rather than longer. I typically try to stay away from these turf turnbacks, but Outtacypresshills has been facing some decent fields lately and I think she’ll fit very well in this spot. Also, watching back Outtacypresshills’s last race, you could make the argument that her rider overcommitted to the rail path in the stretch.
At a much bigger price, I also want to use long shot Congarette (#8) in some capacity, even if it’s mostly underneath in trifectas. She was actually in contention for much of her debut, but appeared to slip on the turf course and veered in sharply approaching the quarter pole. She lost much of her momentum and couldn’t get back into the race afterwards, but she ran better than it appears on paper and could offer some value at a huge price.
$15 Win 6
$5 Win/Place 8
Race 3: Claiming $35,000N3L at one mile on the turf
5 – Sharp Stick
Sharp Stick (#5) is the one I want as he drops in class. The running comment in his last race does not nearly tell the whole story. Last time, Sharp Stick secured a good position in midpack and appeared to have plenty of run coming to the top of the stretch, but a hole just never opened up and he ended up losing all his momentum as he got steadied in behind a tiring runner. Sharp Stick’s prior race at was a really good effort in which he beat Sly Tom, who came back to win a N1X allowance race at Belmont. He gets a positive rider change to Lezcano, and should show up with a much better performance today.
As for others, Harpoon (#3) had trouble in deep stretch last time, but he got a very good trip before that and faces tougher here. Day Six (#8) is also a contender on the class drop and turnback in distance after being allowed to drop too far off a slow pace last time.
$15 Win 5
$2 Exacta Key Box 5 with 3,8
Race 7: Allowance N1X at 7 furlongs on the turf for NY-breds
1A – Secured Position
Secured Position (#1A) should finally get a chance to make his turf debut. His full brother, Social Rebellion, is his coupled entrymate and his form suggests that Secured Position may improve on the turf. Secured Position figures to work out a great trip here stalking the overmatched Crescent Street through moderate fractions. Russell Cash’s horses usually run better second time back from a layoff.
Of the others, I suppose that All Is Number(#8) is the biggest danger after encountering traffic in upper stretch last time.
$20 Win 1
$5 Exacta Box 1,8
Race 8: Starter Allowance $50,000 at 6 furlongs on the turf
4 – Black Tide
This is basically a two-horse affair, and I prefer Black Tide (#4). This horse probably should have won last time, but his rider allowed the winner to get the jump on him and ended up having to steady in upper stretch as a result. I believe Black Tide is a better turf horse and I think he’ll show up with this best performance yet today.
The other horse is Magician’s Bullet (#1), who has run some decent turf sprints out of town and should class up well against this mediocre starter field.
$25 Win 4 (Payout: $55.00)
$10 Exacta 4-1
Race 10: Maiden Claiming $40,000 at 1 1/16 miles on the turf
4 – Ebreeq
The final race of this Belmont meet is very interesting. You have horses like Private Relations and Lucky Leroy Brown, who are dropping in class after holding their own against tougher. You also have horses like Ferocious Tiger and Spanish Armada who have already put in decent efforts in races at this level. I’m ultimately going to use all of those horses in some capacity, but took someone else on top.
Ebreeq (#4) is my long shot pick. Watch back his last two races from Gulfstream. Two back, the running line failed to capture that he actually got within a half-length of the lead at the top of the stretch before getting bounced around between horses and steadying sharply. I don’t think Ebreeq would have won that day, but he was moving in tandem with Spanish Armada prior to the trouble. Then last time five furlongs may just be too short for him, but going 4 or 5 wide on the turn certainly didn’t help his cause. Now he moves into Linda Rice’s barn and could play out as a speed in a race lacking a confirmed frontrunner. Ebreeq has some questions to answer, but he’ll be a price and I think he’s better than his printed past performances suggest. (Note: It is very unlikely that Ebreeq is actually a new gelding.)
$10 Win/Place 4