Laurel Park, Belmont Stakes handicapping contest entries, Enlightened Trail recap

Today a look at the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Beautiful Belmont, and a full look at my top 3 for Leg 7 in The Racing Biz’s Maryland Handicapping Series.
For the Enlightened Derby Trail tomorrow I’ll analyze the Gottstein Futurity for my new home track of Emerald Downs, right on time for closing day. I’m actually moving to Tacoma WA at some point in October.  Beyond this race, Belmont will have their opportunity to shine on both Trails, with the Champagne and Frizette Stakes on 10/4.
Here are my top 3 for the contest races at Laurel:
Race 3: 9-2-11
Race 4: 2-7-6
Race 5: 1-10-2
Race 6: 3-5-2
Race 7: 4-2-5
Race 8: 10-1-7
Race 9: 6-5-3
Race 10: 5-8-13
Race 11: 11-8-10
I selected a value horse per morning line in races 5, 7,8, 10, and 11. 7,8, and 10 I have rated very close.   The one race that’s closest to a lock is race 4.
I used jockey/trainer standings alone to judge the finale, and I used my full arsenal of variables for the others.
Race 9 at Belmont: 3-1a-5
Race 10 (see below…)
Only my top horse counts for the contest, for a mythical $2 Win-Place wager. Top money earned wins a bag of swag, top 5 win an extra entry for the grand prize of the series.
In a recap of the prior EDT race at Presque Isle, 2 of the 3 horses with prior Trails were a factor.  Less Than Perfect gets 100 points for first place and now has 125. Bourbon Cowboy adds 50 to his total, which is now 75.  Draw Night joins the trail with 25, and Breakin The Fever 10 for his 4th place finish.
TALE OF EKATI: Pleasant Tales makes her racing debut in Race 5 at Churchill, an MSW race, 37k, 7 furlongs for fillies. Already she is listed at 15-1 morning line.   Does she have a chance?  Not at all. She doesn’t measure up at all in any of the variables I use, especially considering the poor record of trainer Dallas Stewart.  I see the race run as 3-11-10  Another first-timer, False Positive, will be at Belmont in an MSW race, 60k, 1 mile.
Later today I’ll take to Twitter to present picks for Emerald and Remington.
Now for the Jockey Club Gold Cup:
Just 5 of the 12 horses seem to have any real chance. This race is 10 furlongs, 3YO+, Grade 1, $1 million:
1 MICROMANAGE won the Grade 3 Skip Away and the ungraded Birdstone. Cuts back 2 furlongs tho moves up in class, along with a rider switch to Luis Saez, Track bias in his favor: In dirt routes here, stalking horses are winning at a 39% rate. Rail horses are winning 22%.  Ping-pong movement in Brisnet speed figures: A 111 in the Brooklyn, a 96 in the Suburban, a 105 in the Birdstone, then a 98 in the Garland Cup at Parx last time out.  I’m predicting a bounceback here. ML: 20/1. My odds: 5/2. Contender at a price, and overlay.
8 TONALIST is the Belmont Stakes winner as well as the Peter Pan. Christophe Clement removes blinkers for this race. Best track performance of the field, a 108 in the Belmont. Best jockey/trainer aboard: Joel Rosario 30% wins, Clement 25%. I’ve rated this stalker as fastest of the field.  Also 3 great works here since the Travers, 2 of them were bullets, and those were on soft ground at that. My suspicion is that he’s more of a true mudder but we’re fast and firm today.  ML odds: 4/1. My odds: 8/5. Favorite, contender. Might end up being an overlay, a cheap one at that.
9 STEPHANOATSEE stretches from 9 to 10 furlongs. Hasn’t won since 2012. Best average winning distance from pedigree here (AP Indy/Oatsee, by Unbridled). Progressed in pace to score a 101 last time out in the Woodward, just ahead of his 2013 best.  ML odds: 20/1. My odds: 6/1. Outside contender, and overlay.
10 VE DAY won the Travers and the Curlin, part of a 4 race streak where he emerged from top maiden company. Keeps Javier Castellano for this race. He and Jimmy Jerkens have 2 wins and placings in the last 60 days, for an ROI of 9.13 in a small sample.  Sharp increase in speed from 92 to 102 Brisnet. 3 works at Belmont since, 1 very fast. Seems acclimated to dirt after running turf in first four. ML odds: 5/1. My odds: 6/1. Contender.
11 MORENO won the Whitney 2 races back. Junior Alvarado has 1 win and 3 placing riding for Eric Guillot in last 60 days, for 3.50 ROI.  ML odds: 7/2, listed as the lukewarm favorite.  My odds: 20/1.  Dark horse.
Top 4:
8 Tonalist
1 Micromanage
10 VE Day
9 Stephanoatsee
Overlays: 8,1
Predicting strong value upfront for this one.

Belmont Park selections for 9/29/12

Changes are just being posted and I’m ready to give you my thoughts of the 11 Belmont Park Super Saturday races.

Top trends I’ve uncovered for the week’s races (these minus Friday, which was dark due to anticipated heavy rain) include:

*Track bias: horses who win based on run style or post position. 63% hit rate for first or second place in 41 profiled races.
Turf speed: Best horses in field on the grass have finished 1st or 2nd 59%.
Best track speed: 46% success rate.
Worst performing trends:
Horses in ‘recovery’ form (improvement in Equibase speed figures after peaking off of layoff) have finished 1st/2nd just 10% of the time.
Horses in ‘explosive’ form (new lifetime best speed past prior year’s best) score at 16%.
Off-track: Just 1 in 5 horses this week was 1st/2nd in a race who have had the best track speed from an off-track condition.

Wager scheme is the usual:
Win bets on any of my first 3 selections that are running at worse than 5-1.
Exacta bets between my first 3 selections
4th selection: If this horse is worse than 9-1, I will wager it to win, AND use under exacta with top 3 selections PLUS any horses better than 4-1.

It appears the going is actually off on both the dirt and grass today to start with, but no rain forecast.

Here we go!

race 1 This one is off the turf, bringing in a number of main-trak-only horses into the mix. Extremely tight between top 3. My selections are 4-11-13-1. RED JACK ran mostly 2nd in an 8.5 furlong race on turf here two weeks ago. beaten in late stretch by just 1.5 lengths, actually finishing 5th. No works since. Best jock/trainer win % combo in Ramon Dominguez (26%) and Nick Canani (17%). THE MIXER has fastest track speed of these, a 94 in his maiden-breaker back in July.

race 2. In this MSW race, only 3 horses gathered enough data for any handicapping. I see it as 7-9-10. FOR GREATER GLORY is lone reported closer of the field, scored a last-call 92 in debut with good speed in stretch. STORMY LEN with best jockey/trainer combo (Ramon Dominguez again, here paired with David Donk, winning at 25%).
race 3: 8-7-9-5: RESERVED QUALITY forged lifetime best Equibase of 102 in a 50k claimer last time out, at Saratoga, 8/24. Could bounce off the effort. Best jockey/trainer combo (Dominguez plus Richard Dutrow). SAINT OF SAINTS has fastest off-track speed of the field, a 94 scored on this track in the spring meet. Last 3 overall pace numbers are tops of this field (89-85-90). Comes out of a 4th place finish with mild gain on leaders but no kick at the end.
race 4 This one also off turf. Lots of defections in this one. 15-2-1-12. Big Business gets in as a main-track-only horse. For this 8.5 furlong race he’s prepped with 2 6-furlong efforts, last one here, prior one at Del Mar…scores of 96 ahead of an 87 suggests possible bounce. The 96 is his lifetime best, and also pushes just past his prior best of 92, so there’s possibility he could ‘explode’ to better number here. To boot, he has best jockey/trainer combo of David Cohen (25%) and David Jacobson (43%!). NELSON AVENUE is fastest of these horses as pure sprinter, with 1st-call numbers of 102, 91, and 72 in last 3. Might bounce from last effort, with an overall 94 score ahead of an 80. In that last race he led all the way by 1-1.5 lengths but was caught in deep stretch by just a length for 2nd.
race 5 The Beldame: Only 5 running in this one. 6-1-2-4 IT’S TRICKY is a mortal lock here. 2-for-2 lifetime at Belmont, with best track speed of 109 in last year’s Acorn Stakes. Triple digit Equibase numbers ensure she’s fastest of this field overall. Had tough trip last time in the Personal Ensign in August but made nice bid in final 2 furlongs. 
GO UNBRIDLED has better form today. She forged lifetime best in last race, the Saratoga Dew with a 98 score, and just past her 4YO best score of 96, so it’s entirely possible she’ll run somewhat faster. Possible bounce with this effort tho, as she improved from an 84 score before this. ROI angle: Trainer Allan Jerkens has run 38 horses in Graded events this year, with 16% wins, 34% in money, for +2.76.

race 6
The Kelso Very close between top 2. 6-9-5-4 I’ve always loved SHACKLEFORD and especially like him here. Best track speed of the field, a blazing 115 in the Metropolitan during the spring meet. Middle post will help his cause. TRICKMEISTER has the best record for an off track, a 106 winner at Gulfstream this winter. Under influence of lifetime best scored in July here, a 108 3 races back. Best jockey/trainer combo in Cornelio Velasquez and Richard Dutrow.
Both horses are pure sprinter and will be helped by track bias. So far in the meet, horses running a mile on the dirt who are sprinters win at the rate of 55%, and are 4-for-4 this week.
race 7 The Vosburgh 1-7-1A and 2 or 5 (I’ll use whoever has the worst odds of these two). Yes, both halves of the entry should dominate, tho I like SEAN AVERY most. One lifetime start on an off-track, and scored a win, with a huge 110 effort, his last race in 2011 at Saratoga. Returned after year-long layoff for a 80k win 3 weeks ago here. Fastest pace numbers of the field (all 3 2nd-call numbers in last 3 races are over 100). No works since his 9/8 race. With small sample, has best jockey/trainer combo of Joe Bravo and Allen Iwinski. ROYAL CURRIER has fastest winning Belmont speed, a 107 win scored in the spring meet. Comes out of a 3rd place finish, running 3rd to SEAN AVERY, leading briefly in the stretch, but faded to 3rd by 2.25 lengths.
race 8 Flower Bowl 2-3-7 and 1 or 9 depending on who has worst odds of those two. HESSONITE is a longshot choice here. Fastest Belmont speed of these, a winning 100 score in her last race just 3 weeks ago. Also fastest overall pace of the field; this dead closer has scores of 103, 115 and 99 for last-calls. Forged new lifetime effort in that race and also fits the ‘exploding’ form type; still under influence of running prior lifetime best of 98 back in July. HIT IT RICH also with good value at morning-line. Best turf score of this field, a 104 in the Swannee River at Gulfstream in the winter. Also fastest on an off-track, with a 91 her best score. Moves from 91 to 98 in her last race, so a possible bounce for this sprinter.
race 9 Joe Hirsch Six horses running, 4 are contending for sure. 2-3-5-4. Actually I have 3 and 5 as evenly matched. But #2, POINT OF ENTRY comes out of G1 Stake wins in the Sword Dancer and the Man O’ War (where he scored best track speed of the field, a 100). 1-for-1 on an off track, with a 95 winner. He has fastest overall speed of these, and has best jockey/trainer combo in John Velazquez and Shug McGaughey. TREASURE BEACH, #3 has best turf speed of these, winning at 108 in the 2011 Secretariat Stakes at Arlington. #5, KINDERGARTEN KID could be best in form. Has the recovery angle: After 2 month layoff ran a 95, then 93, then up to 100, suggest further improvement beyond this. Ran a 93 last time in the KY Turf Cup 2 weeks ago, so might be ready to bounce back. No works since that race.
race 10 Jockey Club Gold Cup
4-1-2-7 HYMN BOOK has best Belmont speed of these, a 114 from an ungraded stakes in the 2011 spring meet. Also fastest on an off-track, 4-for-5 lifetime on such condition, with top speed at that same 114. Will be helped by the middle post. RON THE GREEK has fastest overall pace of these. He is one of 5 pure closers in the race but he has the best kick. Was 2nd in the Whitney last time out, rallyingwith an overall 108, and a 119 last call.
race 11 1-12-6-4 BARNARD’S GALAXY is your lock of the day.
Fastest track (and turf) speed of these 57k maidens with an 83, scored in the spring meet. This closer also has fastest overall speed as well. Improved from 63 to 81 last time out, might bounce. Best jockey/trainer combo in Davids Cohen and Jacobson. IMASPEEDYGUY is fastest of those who have run on an off-track, with a 79 posted this winter at Aqueduct. Improved from 49 to 73 and could bounce also. No works since last race at similar conditions 2 weeks ago.
Updates from yours truly during the day on ye olde twitter at @radiocblue