This is the last weekend of racing at Belmont this year and their final Saturday card is sensational, closing with four competitive stakes races which comprise an all-stakes pick-4 that goes 12 x 7 x 11 x 10.
Race 7 – Athenia Stakes (G3) – #7 Off Limits (2-1) is the deserving favorite after a very impressive 4 3/4 length win in the Noble Damsel on September 23rd against many of these same rivals. She might be the shortest price favorite of the sequence, and we’re not against her, but there are a few others that merit at least a little bit of a look.
One of those horses is #12 Decked Out (8-1), who ships east for her third start of the year. She had legitimate trouble in each of of her first two starts this year, both times getting stuck in traffic on the inside. The post is not ideal on most turf courses, but on the Widener at Belmont, ground loss is not as significant. #3 My Impression (8-1) ran very well at Kentucky Downs last time, getting hemmed in, shifting out, and flying home. Two-back, she didn’t have any chance in the Grade 1 Diana chasing the pace while wide.
As for #1 Elysea’s World (5-1) – she doesn’t seem to be a win type but you have to use her underneath. #5 Time and Motion (5-1) has always been one of our favorites but she hasn’t been as good this year and probably should have beaten the pace-setter, Sassy Little Lila, last time.
A – 7
B – 3, 12
C – 5
Race 8 – Turnback the Alarm (G3) – #3 Miss Sky Warrior (8-5) is the favorite but we’ve always been a bit skeptical of her ability and her big figure Gazelle was earned on a speed-favoring track.
Our top pick is #5 Birdatthewire (8-1). While the 1 1/16th mile distance might be a bit of a stretch, it is at one turn and we want to try her after she was severely compromised by a very slow pace in the Ballerina going seven furlongs last time out. Our other “A” horse is #4 Verve’s Tale (7-2) who has been facing some heavy-heads in her losses this year (Elate, Songbird, Highway Star). #7 Eskenformoney (3-1) has run OK lately but has won just once in the last year and a half.
A – 4, 5
B – 7
C – 3
Race 9 – Bold Ruler (G3) – This is a deep and competitive race but we like #11 Divining Rod (7-2) who has been hurt by slow paces in each of his last two races, the Kelso to Sharp Azteca and the Forego to Drefong. #9 Seymourdini (3-1) has had a lot of stops & starts in his career but obviously his last race, a 10 length allowance win on July 3rd, would win this. This is the toughest field he’s faced but should get a good trip stalking on the outside. We’re a little skeptical that he can run back to that race, and he is prepping for the Cigar Mile here, but it would be foolish to leave him off.
#7 Stallwalkin Dude (4-1) drops out of the Vosburgh but he had every chance in that race considering the fast pace. We were a bit skeptical of #10 Mr. Crow (5-1) in the Vosburgh after some good trip wins at Saratoga, specifically his gold-rail maiden win, and he didn’t do much running in the Vosburgh. Still, Pletcher running him back here is probably a positive. Both of these horses can win, but we’re going to play against and lean on Divining Rod.
We’re not sure if he can win but we’ll toss in #8 Beasley (20-1), who has won back to back races since returning and he’s done so impressively moving through his allowance conditions, showing a good finishing punch both times.
A – 11
B – 9
C – 7, 8
Race 10 – Awad Stakes – This two-year old turf stakes race is headed by #6 War Chest (9-5), who goes out for Shug McGaughey. He won his debut, which is rare for a McGaughey charge, but he did get some pace to attack in there and is probably going to be overbet. We’re going to spread around in here and hope to catch a price.
Our top pick, however, is #1 Way Early (6-1), a George Weaver-trained New York-bred. We were impressed with his debut win in which he ran down to horses that were 1-2 all the way. The other closer to make up ground in that race, the fourth-place finisher Gotham’s Storm, returned to break his maiden (also for Weaver) and improved his Beyer figure by 12 points in the process.
#9 Devine Entry (8-1) stretches out off a sprint win in which he closed very strongly to get a clear leader in a good performance. I know #4 Bourbon Currency (5-1) beat him two-back, but that one could get caught in a strong pace in this race. #7 Empirically (10-1) did not run well at Woodbine but is back home and should get some pace to run at here.
A – 1, 6, 9
B – 7
C – none
The play is $56.50. We’ll play the all-A ticket for $1.50, the 3A/1B ticket for $1, and the 2A/2B and 3A/1C ticket for 50-cents.