Belmont kicks off their Belmont Stakes Racing Festival with an excellent Thursday card that includes three stakes races, though just one is in the late pick-4 we are going to attack here. This is a very challenging sequence with some very interesting races. Let’s take a look.
(We’re typing this before the morning lines are out.)
Race 6 – OC $25k/n1x – 3/up, 11 furlongs, turf – NYRA has bumped up the purses for these marathon turf races and this race drew a contentious field of 14. One of the results, in this case a positive one, is you get a lot of horses that are not typical turf marathon horses. It adds a layer of complexity that we welcome. Hopefully a few of the horses stretching out go forward and string the field out a bit, as we like a few horses that have outside posts.
The probable favorite is #7 Richmond Street, but he’s one we’re OK with opposing. He is just 1-8 with four seconds and last time simply followed wire to wire winner Alasaal while that one set extremely slow fractions. The horse we want out of that race is #14 St Louie, who is drawn poorly but was wide in there and moving pretty well late in a race that featured a final quarter mile in 22.07 seconds. #13 Marchant was also compromised by the very slow pace in that race. #9 Sunset District ran a competitive figure (85) in an 11-furlong Monmouth turf route last year. He prepped for this with a solid fourth in a Monmouth allowance when encountering some traffic trouble at the top of the lane and as he tried to get outside in the stretch. Jersey-based trainer Derek Ryan is a solid 5-31 ($2.02 ROI) in NYRA turf races per DRF Formulator over the last five years. #10 Flying Bullet should have no trouble with the distance, bring out of Breeders Cup F&M Turf winner Perfect Sting. He got wired last time going 8.5 furlongs. #6 Birchwood Road improved last time when showing improved speed for Tom Morely and has an 11 furlong race here last year that would put him in the mix.
As a longshot, how about #2 Shamsaan, who adds blinkers for Kiaran McLoughlin. He’s by Bernardini out of an unraced Dynaformer mare. The second dam was a confirmed distance runner. He’ll be a huge price and had no chance in his last start against Secretary at War and subsequent Penn Mile winner Frostmourne.
As you can see, it’s a wide open race. St Louie is drawn poorly but is our top selection, but we’ll use Sunset District and Flying Bullet as As as well.
A – 9, 10, 14
B – 6, 13
C – 2, 7
Race – Alw n1x – 3/up, 6.5 furlongs, dirt – This race has a ton of speed so we’re focusing on off-the-pace runners. #4 So Noted comes off an 11-month layoff but should get a set-up here and trainer Charlton Baker is 21-81 ($2.20 ROI) per DRF Formulator in 180+ day layoffs in dirt sprints. He’s our top pick.
The favorite is #5 Patternrecognition, for Chad Brown. He won his debut impressively sitting off a fast pace with a 94 Beyer. He beat two next-out winners (though one won on turf) and likely will be able to sit off the pace. He’ll need to.
#11 Divine Interventio is 2-11 with four seconds and two thirds, but will benefit from the projected pace scenario, though is not a reliable win candidate. Finally, we’re tossing in #10 River Dell, who switches to Tom Morely off an awful race at Gulfstream (we bet him). We’ll guess something went wrong that day and he too fits the projected pace. #3 Bombs Away will beat us. This Shug McGaughey returnee did not run well when stretched out and while he did show serious promise last year, might need one off the bench and is drawn poorly with the other speed to his outside.
A – 4, 5
B – 11
Race 8 – Intercontinental Stakes (G3) – 4/up, F&M, 7 furlongs, turf – We’re going to chalk out here and lean on the favorite, #9 Take These Chains. This Chad Brown trainee is 3-3 with three open-length wins including a 3.5 length romp at this distance on April 28th. In there, she buried Rumble Doll, a solid stakes caliber runner who came back to improve her figure seven points last week when second by a nose.
If she gets beat, the one horse who I think can do it is #5 Mississippi Delta. This Mark Casse charge drops out of the Distaff Turf Mile on Derby Day where she didn’t really have much chance behind Roca Rojo and Believe in Bertie (though granted she was on the outside, the best part of the track). Two back, she was wired by Celestine at Gulfstream, who set a dawdling pace. We’ve always felt she was better in these one-turn races (while 6th in this race last year, she had a traffic-filled trip, never clear in the lane).
A – 9
B – 5
C – none
Race 9 – Maiden Special Weight – 3/up, NY-breds, 6 furlongs, turf – Let’s finish this up with a NY-bred turf sprint scramble. #11 Uncle Tbone ran pretty well last time, setting a solid pace and was just caught late going seven. He should appreciate cutting back to six furlongs in this race. #7 Summer Mischief is a second time starter that moves to the grass for Christophe Clement. Her dam never ran on turf but the second dam was a multiple winner on the grass and Into Mischief is a solid turf sire. #9 Daring Destiny is a Linda Rice first time starter (she’s 5-47 with FTS in turf sprints with a $1.05 ROI per DRF Formulator). This one is by the outstanding turf sprinter Ahvee’s Destiny. While Linda Rice horses are often better second time, we’ll use on pedigree alone here.
#12 Danny’s Rush ran well while wired sprinting in September and is dangerous off the bench for Bill Mott. #3 Money Laundering set a very fast pace in his dirt debut and moves to the grass. The dam was 0-1 on turf, but won three times on synthetics and the second dam won on the grass.
#6 Charge Latouche hasn’t been out in two years (though that’s no problem for trainer Michael Dickinson – I guess if he wins this will be the second greatest comeback since Lazarus). His first turf race was pretty good in a very good field and apparently something went wrong in the second start. It’s still a two-year layoff, but we’ll use as a backup.
Again, there’s a lot going on here. And we’re not using #5 Uncle Chester, who will be one of the choices. However, he is 0-10 on turf and six furlongs might be a bit short (though the pace could be solid, we just want a few others).
A – 7, 9, 11
B – 3, 12
C – 6
We’ll play the A-A-A-A ticket for $1 and the others (3A/1B, 2A/2B, 3A/1C) for 50-cents each. The total play is $83.50. Good luck!