Lots to get to for this 10-stake Belmont Stakes Day…so, as scratches/changes get posted, I’ll update this post. Let’s get started! For brevity’s sake I’ll just post thoughts on my top valued choice, as well as mention overlays.
Race 2 is the Easy Goer, 8.5 furlongs, 150k purse for leading 3YOs. Top 3 are 5-8-4…..Prince Lucky, High North and Soutache. Overlays: Prince Lucky, Soutache. One of 2 races today where I expect any favorite to finish no better than 3rd, if at all. Prince Lucky won 3 of his first 4 races lifetime, then had some trouble in classier races. Last race was 5/19 in the Sir Barton at Pimlico, running 3rd with an 87, and a wide, shifting trip. It was an improvement on his prior race, 2 months following layoff, with a faster 2nd call time, and a slight gain on the leader. Hopefully something to build upon today.
UPDATE: Mask is now my 2nd choice here.
Race 3 is the Ogden Phipps, Grade 1 event worth 750k, fillies/mares 4YO+ going 8.5 furlongs. Top 3 are 5-1-2…American Gal, Unbridled Mo, and Ivy Bell. Overlays are Ivy Bell and Unchained Melody. Ivy Bell has been 1st or 2nd in 12 of 14 lifetime. Comes out of 2 stellar efforts since claim by Todd Pletcher, a 98 in the Humana Distaff, and a 100 in winning the Inside Information. One of several with recent new tops in pace. Only horse here who is improving after first run after layoff. Gained very well at 2nd call speed and slightly better vs leader.
UPDATE: Following changes, top 3 are now 1-4-2….Unbridled Mo, Pacific Wind and Ivy Bell.
Race 4 is the Acorn, for top 3YO fillies going 1 mile, 700k. Top 3 are the favored Monomoy Girl and Caledonia Road, then the overlay Starcloud.3-5-6. In a race that otherwise might be worth passing, Starcloud is the worst per odds of this 7 horse field. But I happen to like her. Winner of 4 of 5 lifetime, including the Game Face last out at Gulfstream, with a strong 96. Off for 7 weeks, she’s freshest among those stretching out. Switching jockeys back to regular rider Albin Jiminez.
Race 5 is the Brooklyn Invitational, for 4YOs +, going 12 furlongs in this Grade 2 event. Top 3 are 9-4-5….War Story, Take Your Guns, and Mills. Overlays are Mills and Giant Payday. My reason for liking the big longshot is his 3 local works, plus a strong 4 length gain on leaders in his last race, the Mr Sinatra on 3/31.
Race 6 is the Jaipur for 4YOs +, a 6 furlong turf race at Grade 2, worth 400k. I have confidence in just 2…Disco Partner and Pure Sensation, 5-2. Probably the weakest of today’s races, I like Pure Sensation for value. 17 of 26 races in the money, the 7 year old is 2 races removed from his lifetime best of 102, in the Breeders Cup Turf Sprint. He’s the only horse who could bounce back in pace. Jockey switch back to Kendrick Carmouche, his regular rider.
Race 7 is the Woody Stephens, for 3YOs going 7 furlongs and a 400k purse. Top 3 are 12-11-2…Strike Power, World Of Trouble, and overlay Pure Shot. Pure Shot I am playing strictly from a track bias point of view….in 16 races at this distance during the meet, 6 were won by pure sprinters, and 3 by posts 1-3. Adds blinkers for the first time. Also jockey switch back to Ricardo Santana Jr. The other overlay here is Beautiful Shot.
Race 8 is the Longines Just A Game…turf mile for fillies/mares 4YO+, Grade 1. Top 3 are Off Limits, Dream Dancing (overlay), and Proctor’s Ledge (3-2-5). Dream Dancing is the big longshot at 20-1 in this field of 8. She is one of 2 who have posted a recent small new top as her year’s best…96 and 4th last out in the Distaff Turf Mile at Churchill on Derby Day. It was a nice improvement after being off for 12 weeks, with an 11 point gain in speed figure by 2nd call, and 1.5 lengths on the leader.
Race 9 is the Met Mile, Grade 1 event for 3YO+. Top 3 are 10-4-9….Bee Jersey, McCraken and Warrior’s Club. This is the other race to eliminate favorites out of in the top 2. Bee Jersey began his career running at Dubai in 2016, then found much better success here in the US….103 lifetime best 2 races ago in an optional claimer 62k race, then a 106 while winning a Grade 3 event at Lone Star on 5/6. He’s the lone sprinter of the field. Also, 11 of 39 races run as dirt miles during the meet have been won by pure sprinters, and 7 from posts 8 and out. Warrior’s Club is the overlay in this race.
Race 10 is the $1 million Manhattan, Grade 1 event for top 4YOs+, going 10 furlongs on the inner turf. Another great handicapping race, with lots of contenders and ways oto score. Top 3 are longshot/overlay Fashion Business, Beach Patrol and Channel Maker (overlay too, along with One Go All Go and Hello Don Julio). 7-10-9. Fashion Business I like most based on her 40k optional claimer last out, a 92 run after an 8 month layoff..it was a slight improvement at 2nd call plus a few lengths against the leader at that point, en route to winning that race.
Race 11 is the big Belmont Stakes itself, and the opportunity for Justify to be a truly immortal horse. I do like him outright, followed by Vino Rosso and Gronkowski. Overlays are those latter two plus Restoring Hope. Vino Rosso bounced from his Wood Memorial win to 9th in the KY Derby. One of several who should bounce back in pace. I like his pattern of recent speed figures: 91, 102, 91, 100. Triple digit run today? Despite the bounce, he did make some ground at 2nd call vs Justify. 1-8-6