We had a few “close but no cigar” results on Saturday (it would have been nice if Ballagh Rocks could have gotten up for second over Heart to Heart in the Shadwell, but it wasn’t to be). Belmont and Keeneland each run two Win and You’re In Races on Sunday. Let’s take a look.
Belmont Race 7 – Frizette Stakes – I think this is the most interesting of all of these races. Our first opinion is we’re going to play against the two horses coming out of the Spinaway at Saratoga, which had a fast pace and a glacial finish. #1 Maya Malibu (4-1) sat back behind a very fast pace and clunked up for second without doing much running. #4 Separationofpowers (9-5) was part of that very fast pace, and did finish ahead of her pace rival, but that race did come back slow and she rode a gold rail to her maiden win. Plus, there should be enough other speed in here to keep her honest.
Our top pick is #10 Critique (6-1). She’s drawn perfectly outside and has the foundation of two seven-furlong races. The questions are legit: her two races were both off-the-turf races and the field in her last race, a 16-length maiden win on September 3rd at Saratoga, was certainly very weak. The runner-up from that races, however, returned to improve her figure by 16 points when running sixth in a much tougher maiden field last week. Critique still seems to be figuring things out – she was lugging in and changed leads in the stretch.
We will also use #6 Purrfect Miss (5-1), who ran well on debut on Opening Day at the Spa and then returned to a solid maiden win on August 20th. We just like Critique’s far outside draw and two seven-furlong races, while Purrfect Miss will be stretching out from six furlongs to one mile and will probably be closer to what should be a solid pace. Plus, her maiden win seemed to hold together where the speeds ran 1-2-3 all the way around. Still, we like Purrfect Miss and will be using her.
Belmont Race 8 – Flower Bowl – Everyone wants to bet #1 Grand Jete (9-5) after her terrible trip in the Beverly D (when of course we had her). The other logical horses are #4 Zhukova (2-1) and #3 Dacita (3-1). Zhukova won the Man O’ War here in May but that was on a bog (and even if it rains today the turf course won’t be nearly that soft). She can win but we’ll hope she gets overbet off that one race. Dacita won the Beverly D after Grand Jete got in trouble. She wants very firm turf which she might not get (though again, it won’t be as soft as it was for the Man O War and Dacita’s Beaugay). I’d also add that she might be better going a little shorter than this and she is most likely of these three to be compromised by a projected slow pace.
Keeneland Race 8 – Bourbon Stakes – Everything at Keeneland is off the turf except this race, which will be run on a yielding course (exact classification hasn’t been announced yet but we can operate under that assumption). We liked both of #9 Captivating Moon’s (5-1) races, especially his turf debut where he won very easily and displayed a quick turn of foot. He’s also half to several turf winners including Grade 1 winner Vacare and Abtaal, who earned over $200k on the grass.
Keeneland Race 9 – Spinster – #8 Bar of Gold (7-2) is going to get her preferred wet surface today, but she never beats open company. #6 Lockdown (3-1) is definitely the one to beat, and she ran fine last time in the Cotillion, but now comes back on short rest. We’ll try #1 Martini Glass (12-1), who is drawn very well and should get a good trip behind the pace. Three-back she tested Songbird in the Delaware Handicap and last time was second to Monesoncharlotte at Thistledown. That rival came back to run second in the Beldame last week. Then they put her on turf last time and she was hurt by a slow pace in a pretty solid field on what is not her preferred surface. In the last five years, trainer Keith Nations is 19-52 (37%) with a $3.52 ROI going turf to dirt (per DRF Formulator). The ROI actually goes UP to $3.85 when looking at turf to scheduled dirt, where he is 16-41 (39%).