Our last post looked at the Pick-4 today leading into the Penn Derby at Penn National, but there’s a lot more great action around the east coast today. Let’s take a look at a few spot plays we’ll be interested in making.
Belmont Race 9 – Pennine Ridge (G3) – 3yo, 9 furlongs, turf – This is a very good race with three of the best two year olds from last year with a few up and comers thrown in. #6 Oscar Performance (4-1), the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf winner last year, has run poorly twice this year. He was surprisingly rated at Keeneland and then stopped badly at Churchill (softer turf) last time. You could give him a pass for those, but at a short price, he’ll have to prove it to us that he’s back on his game. The favorite is #9 Good Samaritan (8-5), a deserving choice who had a terrible trip in the Breeders Cup and then had to go very wide at Churchill last time. He should improve stretching out and might have been a little short last time for his first start in seven months. Our exacta partner for him is #4 Makarios (10-1) who has found a home on the grass for trainer Nick Zito. His two turf races at Gulfstream were outstanding – he missed the break and came flying on January 22nd and after being reluctant to load, swung out and buried the field on February 26th. He was a good third in the Transylvania two-back and won an allowance race last time on just 19 days rest (though Channel Maker, a solid runner in his own right, was probably best after traffic). He’s been rested for this and is the only runner in the field with a win going 9 furlongs. We’ll play Makarios to win and for every $10 in exactas, play $7 with Good Samaritan over Makarios and $3 the other way.
Belmont Race 4 – 3/up NY-breds, n1x, 1 mile, turf – We’ll take a shot with #11 Clutch Cargo (8-1) in this race for New York-breds. Clutch Cargo won his first turf start here last year, passing five horses in the last 8th of a mile. We can give him a pass for his Aqueduct race in November (that turf course can be quirky). He returned on April 22nd and had legitimate trouble on the far turn and quarter pole, steadying back to the rear of the field, ending his chances. He should improve second off the bench for Mike Hushion. The winner of that race, Mr. Harlan, came back to run second against state-bred n2x rivals and improved his Beyer figure by 11 points. We’ll play with the 1 and 3 in exactas.
Monmouth Race 11 – Eatontown Stakes (G3) – 3/up F&M, 8.5 furlongs, turf – We were going to oppose #13 Time and Motion (9-2) from this poor post at a shortish price in here, but she’s scratching to run in the New York next week. #8 Zipessa (5-1) is the one to beat. You can forgive her try in the Sheepshead Bay; that race was too far and she set an ambitious pace against a good field on yielding turf. Her races last year are certainly good enough. #6 Grand Jete (6-1) probably will be around 4-1 with these connections (Joe Bravo and Chad Brown), but boy was she impressive in her stakes debut. She did not beat a good field in that race, but won easily under wraps. She’s the pick.
Monmouth Race 10 – 3/up NY-breds, 6 furlongs, dirt – A few of these come out of an allowance race in the slop on Opening Day. The one you do not want out of there is #2 Guinness Spice (6-1), who had a perfect trip behind a spirited pace battle and clunked up for third and should have done better. #5 Lucky Six (7-2) and #6 Phone My Posse (5-1) hooked up that day, with Lucky Six running well for second, but they could get going again today, with added speed from the inside and outside runners (the latter first time Todd Pletcher). The pick is #4 Follow the Rainbow (7-2) who is first off the bench for Jason Servis (27% from 52 starters, $2.54 ROI in 120+ day layoffs in dirt sprints per DRF Formulator).