The Belmont Stakes card at Belmont on Saturday is truly spectacular, with six Grade 1 races throughout the day, capped of course by the last leg of the Triple Crown but with elite racing all afternoon.
We’ll have a few multi-race tickets coming on Saturday morning, but in this post, we’ll go through and post a few of the horses that we are going to key around.
Race 4 – Acorn Stakes (G1) – 3/yo fillies, 1 mile, dirt – We’re all about #8 Salty (4-1) and hopefully we get that 4-1 morning line price. She was our pick in the Kentucky Oaks last time but had a terrible trip, having to pick her way through horses inside while having to wait in a few spots as Abel Tasmen swept past. The turnback to a one-turn mile should suit her fine (her best Beyer was earned going a one-turn mile at Gulfstream) whereas #3 Abel Tasmen (2-1) improved when she stretched out to two turns.
Race 6 – Jaipur (G3) – 4/up, 6 furlongs, turf – There’s not a ton of “turf sprint” speed in here, which is a concern, but we still want to take a shot with #2 Disco Partner (6-1), who should be a solid price in a competitive field. Disco Partner ran second to #3 Pure Sensation (3-1) in this race last year when trained by Jim Ryerson. He made his first start for Christophe Clement in the seven-furlong Elusive Quality last time and crushed a decent field with a quick move on the turn. He should handle the six furlong distance (he did win the 5.5 furlong Troy at Saratoga last year) and if he takes a step forward in his second start of the year, look out. Pure Sensation is the best of the speeds and the one to beat but Disco Partner is the one we want to bet.
Race 7 – Woody Stephens (G2) – 3/yo, 7 furlongs, dirt – Turnbacks often thrive in these late-spring springs for three year olds. #7 Wild Shot (4-1) turned back to win the Pat Day Mile last time and #8 American Anthem (5-2) did the same to win the Laz Barrera. This time, we’re taking #11 Petrov (8-1) to turn back and win this race. He’s drawn perfectly outside and comes out of four straight two-turn races. He went way off form at the end of the Oaklawn season but seems to have been freshened up for this race. American Anthem is the horse to beat. Wild Shot ran well last time but won’t be much price (and that race didn’t come back as fast as it looked live). #4 Gold For the King (15-1) skipped a spot against New York-breds for this one and should get pace at a price.
Race 8 – Just a Game (G1) – 4/up, fillies & mares, 1 mile, turf – #1 Dickinson (5-2) ran a huge race to beat Lady Eli at Keeneland last time – Lady Eli got the jump on her and Dickinson came off the rail and ran her down in a great performance. #2 Roca Rojo (9-5) is very logical for Chad Brown off a win in the Distaff Turf Mile on Derby Day (and she is 3-3 at Belmont). But the horse that we’ll key around is #7 Antonoe (8-1) for Chad Brown. This Juddmonte runner came to the US from France, got Lasix, and buried a second-level allowance at Keeneland. She did not get off well from post 10, tucked in, and burst up the inside to win going away, running down the pace-setter. Juddmonte obviously thought a lot of her, running her in five straight graded stakes races before sending her to the US and running her in this race after just the one allowance prep. She’s the up-and-coming horse that will be a good price.
Race 9 – Metropolitan Handicap (G1) – 4/up, 1 mile, dirt – The Met Mile. This version lost a little star power when Connect got hurt, but it also opens the race up. We’re going to key around #11 Tommy Macho (10-1) who can be somewhat of an all-or-nothing horse. But when he’s on, he’s run some big races at this one-turn mile distance (though both at Gulfstream). He had a big win in the Hal’s Hope three back when he took a little bit to get going but crushed the field. Then two-back in the Gulfstream Park Handicap, he had to chase Sharp Azteca, who is a contender here but we want to see trainer Jorge Navarro win a big race in New York, where he has struggled (and Sharp Azteca has to deal with more pace). He then went to the Carter, where he was compromised by a speed-favoring track and a terrible ride where he got stopped cold while making a rail move. He’s a bit of a stretch, but is drawn well and should get a good trip at his preferred distance.
Race 10 – Manhattan Handicap (G1) – 4/up, 10 furlongs, turf – There a few main contenders here but we’ll focus on two – #4 Time Test (5-1) and #7 Divisidero (4-1). First off, Time Test will be much shorter than that. He did get beat by Smooth Daddy last time, which is not impressive, but he really wants firm turf and he gets it here. His races last year give him a great chance. However, and this shouldn’t surprise you, our top pick is Divisidero. We thought he ran great last time, running down #1 Beach Patrol (7-2) after that one set fairly moderate fractions and the stretch to 10 furlongs suits him perfectly. #3 World Approval (3-1) is a contender but might want to go longer and had a perfect trip pressing a very slow pace last time. He figures to be overbet.
We’ll have a write-up of the Belmont itself in the morning.