Saturday, September 26
Race 1: Starter Allowance $50,000 at 6 furlongs
5 – Smiling John
2 – Here Comes Tommy
I don’t see a good reason to try and beat Smiling John (#5). The other two horses involved in that torrid pace last time returned to improve their figures earlier this week, and if Smiling John follows suit, he’ll prove too tough for these.
Behind Smiling John, I’m interested in trying to get Here Comes Tommy (#2) into exactas and triples. I thought this one had some subtle trouble and didn’t get the best ride when caught behind a slow pace at Saratoga. If he moves forward off that return, he’s in the mix.
$10 Exacta 5-2
$2 Trifecta 5 with 2 with 1,4,6,8,9
$2 Trifecta 5 with 1,4,6,8,9 with 2
Race 4: Allowance N1X at 1 1/16 miles on the turf for NY-breds
2 – Raffies Bay
I have to take a shot with Raffies Bay (#2) off his impossible trip last time. He’s not the most trustworthy horse, but maybe he’ll appreciate getting back to Belmont, since his two races there this spring/summer make him a contender. Jax Heritage can win but I don’t think he’s really any better than Raffies Bay at his best. Black Tide and Tapitation will take money, and I think you have to use both in some capacity, but I’m trying to beat them out of the top spot at what should be pretty short prices.
$15 Win/Place 2
$4 Exacta Key Box 2 with 3,4,5
Race 5: The Beldame Invitational (G1) at 1 1/8 miles for fillies and mares
3 – Hot Stones
If Wedding Toast repeats her Ogden Phipps, she is going to win. Yes, in retrospect that field doesn’t look as stellar as it did at the time and she got a soft pace that day, but make no mistake–she was good this spring and summer. However, I’m sure the plan wasn’t to skip so many races and you have to wonder if she’s going to return in the same form.
The horse who could prove to be a thorn in her side is Hot Stones (#3). After looking washed up at the start of the year, this mare has rediscovered her best form recently. The pace doesn’t figure to be particularly fast, which suits Hot Stones just fine. If she tries to break this race open midway, as she did last time, it’ll make things interesting. At what should be a fair price, I’m going to take a in-form Hot Stones to post the upset.
$20 Win 3
$10 Exacta Box 2,3
$5 Exacta Key Box 3 with 1,4
Race 7: The Gallant Bloom Handicap (G2) at 6 1/2 furlongs for fillies and mares
2 – La Verdad
6 – Classic Point
In the Gallant Bloom, I’d really love to see La Verdad (#2) win and head into the Breeders’ Cup with a legitimate chance this year. La Verdad has been good for so long, is better than ever this year, and deserves her chance on a national stage.
The one horse who I think could pose a threat today is Classic Point (#6). With very little other speed signed on, Classic Point should take up a clear stalking position and may be the only one within striking distance of La Verdad as they turn for home. Classic Point is reportedly doing well for her return and has shown a lot of gameness in her races with blinkers. Don’t count her out.
$10 Win/Place 6
$15 Exacta 2-6
$5 Exacta 6-2
$5 Trifecta 2 with 6 with 1,3,5
Race 10: The Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational (G1) at 1 1/2 miles on the turf
1 – Red Rifle
5 – Slumber
There are two horses I want. Red Rifle (#1) is not your typical Pletcher horse as it seems they’ve just now figured him out at age 5. His last three races have been awesome, 12 furlongs is no problem, and he will be awfully tough to beat. The one horse who I think can post the upset is Slumber (#5). A mile and a half has been a minor issue for him in the past, but he’s better than ever this year. His Manhattan and United Nations were excellent efforts and last time he was totally eliminated on the far turn.
I’m going to live and die with Red Rifle and Slumber here and I don’t really want anyone else. Twilight Eclipse is okay, but I think he was a little better last year. Big Blue Kitten is a player, but I prefer the equally talented Slumber at a better price.
$25 Exacta Box 1,5
$10 Trifecta 1,5 with 1,5 with 3,4