It may not be the Spa, but we have an absolutely gorgeous Saturday at Belmont Park here today. Let’s take a look at the card and find some winners.
Race 1 (1:15pm): $40,000 Maiden Claiming, 6 furlongs on the inner turf, New York Bred 3 yr olds and up
The first race is always a tough one, especially when the field isn’t that strong, but let’s have a stab at it still. #10 Our Troubadour is returning to the turf after a brief layoff. His last time out on the turf came at Aqueduct in November, where he recorded solid early speed figures compared to the pack, just couldn’t pull it together in the end. Aside from this, trainer Ed Baker has a solid ROI on turf sprinters. #1 After Prom Party ran a solid last race on the turf, but fell short by only a length and a half, coming in 5th. He should look to come out of the gate hot once again,being against the rail at the gate is a little added bonus this time around. At 10-1 morning line odds, this is the horse you should be rooting for. Tough to overlook #8 Dawn’s Early Light, who is a first time turfer that has shown promising results at all distances in the past. The best early speed in the pack and will be the one to beat, I prefer the value in the other two though.
Race 2 (1:50pm): $25,000 Claiming, 8½ furlongs on the outer turf, 3 yr olds and up
#12 Ghost Hunter has some great experience on the turf as he’s finished first 7 times in his career on turf. Although they were all against lesser competition, trainer Jaime Ness seems confident in this one bringing him to the NYRA circuit this summer. #10 Quality Choice has Kendrick Carmouche on the saddle again, both of them returning to the turf after a couple iffy performances on the dirt. The last time this duo raced on the grass was at Aqueduct in November, where he recorded his fastest speed figures to date. #4 Bold Daddy has put up fairly consistent results and also is experienced on the turf. His last win was under similar conditions at Gulfstream in January, and at 6-1 with Jose Lezcano on top, I’m liking the value here.
Race 3 (2:23pm): $64,000 Maiden Special Weight, 6½ furlongs on the dirt, 3 yr old and up fillies & mares
Not the best race here, as Chad Brown’s #1 Primacy is by far the best horse of the group and should win this one without a problem especially with Javier riding her. I’ll single her in my Pick 5, but if you’re looking for a value horse then take a shot at #7 Arima, who has Manny Franco on top and has put up decent speed figures in previous races, plus she’s got the most experience of the bunch. 12-1 morning line odds as well, so I might hit it across the board, but that’s it for this race.
Race 4 (2:55pm): $40,000 Maiden Claiming, 6 furlongs on the inner turf, New York Bred 3 yr olds and up
A horse I’ve been tailing since last summer has been #14 Shandian, who had a few good runs on the turf here at Saratoga but failed to cross the finish line first in the end. After a difficult spell on the dirt this past winter, Shandian is racing in his first turf sprint since Belmont in December, and could be a shocker here at 15-1. #7 Money In The Bank didn’t have the best run his last time out, but he has shown great speed figures in turf sprints before. #4 Fluent In Sarcasm lost his jockey last time out on the turf, but Jose Ortiz takes the saddle today, which will be a different story.
Race 5 (3:27pm): $40,000 Optional Claiming, 8½ furlongs on the dirt, New York Bred 3 yr olds and up
#5 Playthatfunnymusic has come up short in his past few, but looks to get back in his groove today under a new trainer (David Cannizzo). With 12 wins under his belt and some of the best speed figures in the group, I’m taking the 5 and Eric Cancel to win this one. It’s been over a year since #3 Hit It Once More ran, but prior to his layoff he was putting up incredible speed figures. This race has a lot of speed, but if the 3 breaks early then he’ll need to make sure he’s got enough gas in the tank for the final furlong. #4 Sea Foam – trained by Christophe Clement and ridden by Joel Rosario – has won 2 of 3 at this distance and has overall impressive numbers all around. Is a previous stakes winner and is dropping in class today, so I’m expecting a good run here.
Race 6 (3:59pm): $32,000 Claiming, 6 furlongs on the inner turf, 3 yr olds and up
Bill Mott has 4,999 career wins and this is his second attempt at 5,000 on today’s card. #6 Honey Won’t is sitting at 6-1 morning line odds and has Joel on top, who came in first on top last summer in Saratoga. Many will say Mott gets win #5k in Race 9, but I think this might actually be the one. Hard to not take #8 Kitten’s Cat here especially with Jose Ortiz on the mount and has run well on the turf, which he returns to today. Coming off a win in March, the 8 should be up there at the end. #4 Celebration won at this same distance on the turf at Aqueduct in November and has put up considerable speed figures since. Watch out for Kendrick here as well.
Race 7 (4:32pm): $64,000 Maiden Special Weight, 1 mile on the outer turf, 3 yrs old and up fillies & mares
Lots of trouble in this race, as half the horses are first time starters and not much experience all around here. That being said, I’m actually liking the morning line favorite #10 Too Sexy. She had two solid races at Gulfstream earlier this year under the same conditions, and Johnny V takes the saddle this time around. #6 Tizlegal is coming off a great performance in Florida as well, where she was leading the race but got beat in the final stretch by a half a length. Had that race been a sixteenth of a mile shorter, she’d have won it. Interestingly enough, this race is a sixteenth of a mile shorter. One other horse I like here is #3 Windfall Profit, who ran a great last race in Tampa and is returning here with second time lasix and I’m liking Manny Franco on top.
Race 8 (5:04pm): $56,000 Allowance, 6 furlongs on the dirt, New York Bred 3 yr olds and up
#12 Pot Of Hunny has Eric Cancel on the mount again after a nice win at Aqueduct in February under the same conditions. Although he’s facing tougher competition today, I’d expect the 12 to continue improving and at 12-1, that’s the value I like to take. The morning line favorite #9 Behind The Couch has raced well at shorter distances like this one and boasts some of the best speed figures of the pack. I expect him to come out the gate hot, plus you can never count out Jose (especially when Irad isn’t racing today). Linda Rice trained #7 Officer Hutchy should be in contention and will be fighting with the 9 for the early lead here. Have a good feeling about this race…Will be hitting the tri.
Race 9 (5:36pm): $300,000 Ogden Phipps Stakes, 8½ furlongs on the dirt, 4 yrs old and up fillies and mares
Here. We. Go. A stakes race baby! Time to shine. Sadly, there’s only 6 horses to choose from, but boy do we have some options. I’ll probably be taking #2 Point Of Honor in this one. It’s been a minute since he reached the winner’s circle, but this pony’s late speed is something else and I think that will be crucial here today. Hard to not take the favorite #5 Ollie’s Candy, but I’ll be hitting #3 She’s A Julie, who offers great value here at 8-1 and could be an across the board wager.
Race 10 (6:08pm): $50,000 Allowance, 1 mile on the outer turf, 3 yrs old and up fillies and mares
Thinking this race may be chalk, but the one non chalk horse I really liked was #10 Stormy Derby Day, whose speed figures have been consistently improving and went gate-to-wire his last time out in April. At 10-1, I will absolutely be betting this across the board. The Pletcher trained #2 Bean Counter should lead the pack here, followed by Michael Maker trained #5 Hurricane Breeze. Not living this race too much, but still will be throwing these three in the Pick 5.
TODAYS PICK 5 CARD: Decided to go with the early Pick 5 so that we could single the #1 in Race 3. Only $27 for a $.50 wager, and I’m LOVING today’s card.
(UPDATED FOR SCRATCHES – 11:27am)
Best of luck everyone, let’s have a Saturday!