We had one hell of a Saturday at Belmont – highlighted by hitting the longshot winner across the board in the G1 Ogden Phipps Stakes. Let’s run it back today as it’s shaping up to be another beautiful day in Elmont, NY for some racing.
Race 1 (1:15pm): $30,000 Maiden Claiming, 8½ furlongs on the dirt, 3 yr olds and up
4,999. I’ve been saying that number a lot over the past 36 hours. Why? Well because that’s how many career wins trainer Bill Mott has in his lifetime. His horse, #6 Road Home, opens up the 1st race here at Belmont as the 8-5 favorite and should win this race with ease as he drops down in class. In his last two runs, #6 finished 3rd and 2nd, respectively, while recording nice Beyer figures against a tough pack. With an extra 16th of a mile in this one, his late speed should be what sets him apart from the pack in the end. I tried staying away from the chalk in this one, but in my mind that’s what this is looking to be. #7 Judicial Restraint is also dropping in class and has Javier Castellano on the saddle, while being trained by no other than Chad Brown who has done exceptionally well recently with horses dropping in class from Maiden Special Weights to Maiden Claimings. If you back class, you should back this one. Lastly, to add some value to the card, I’m liking #4 Fulfill, whose morning line odds are 15-1. Although he hasn’t raced at this distance yet, he’ll break early for the lead in this one and will have to hope he can maintain it in the final furlong. I also like #3 Ghost On A Mission, and will be adding him to my early Pick 5 card (see below).
Race 2 (1:50pm): $16,000 Claiming, 6½ furlongs on the dirt, 3yrs old and up fillies & mares
#3 Distinctive Lady is coming off a victory at Gulfstream back in January where she recorded her best speed figure to date. Although this race is an entire furlong longer, I think Saez – who is back today after serving his 15 day suspension from last year’s Derby – will lead this one past the finish line first, just as the horse has done plenty of times in its past. #10 Miss Jak is currently sitting at 6-1 morning line odds, and I will be shocked if those don’t drop significantly by race time. Miss Jak has been the favorite in her last 3 starts, winning just one of them. She’s faced better competition before and could be the winner here – impossible not to take at 6-1. #5 Keep Your Distance has the best early speed of the group and has Eric Cancel back on top – the duo won their last time together under similar conditions at Aqueduct. I’m loving this race in terms of value, and may be betting this tri box as well.
Race 3 (2:23pm): $66,000 Allowance, 8 ½ furlongs on the inner turf, 3 yr old fillies
#7 Stolen Holiday went gate-to-wire in her debut at Tampa Bay Downs in April, recording a solid 73 Beyer figure in the race. Will be facing tougher competition here, but the $750,000 daughter of War Front could best this field convincingly, especially with second time lasix today. #5 Cats Pajamas also ran a strong last race, winning by two lengths under similar conditions at Churchill in May. Johnny V is back in the irons and is looking to go 2 for 2 on this filly. Lastly, I do not dislike the #2 Love Beach, who is dropping down after a long layoff. That being said, trainer Michael Stidham rocks a solid 31% win rate when returning from a turf layoff, and with Joel Rosario on top I like the value here at 10-1.
Race 4 (2:55pm): $40,000 Maiden Claiming, 1 mile on the outer turf, 3 yrs old and up fillies & mares
In a race with not a crazy amount of talent all around and a few first time turfers, it can be hard to get a read on how this will pan out, especially when there’s one horse with significantly more experience than all the others and the heavy favorite. #4 Ocean Fire has been on the board in her last 6 starts, and is due for a win. She has without a doubt the best speed figures of the group, just hasn’t been the finisher she needs to be but that should change today. Going to take a stab at the first time starter #5 Fleet Stepper. The 5 horse is under trainer Christophe Clement, whose debut ROI’s have been unbelievable historically. Cannot overlook this one with Manny Franco steering the way.
Race 5 (3:27pm): $16,000 Claiming, 6 furlongs on the dirt, 3 yrs old and up fillies & mares
#9 Enough Love broke her maiden last time out and Aqueduct in March is looking to keep the streak going today. Luis Saez is on the saddle as well, who will likely break early for the lead. #6 Li’lbito’charm has some early speed on her too and will need to maintain the pace out front as she’s not necessarily a come-from-behind winner. At 8-1 morning line odds, I like this filly to at least show here. #10 Remembering Bobbie has some of the best early speed of the bunch, and if she’s able to break for the lead before the favorite #7 Elegant Rose, I think it’s worth taking a shot at Kendrick Carmouche in this one. That being said, I will be including the 7 in my Pick 6.
Race 6 (3:59pm): $50,000 Claiming, 1 mile on the outer turf, 3 yr olds and up
Lots of solid runners in this one and plenty of value on the board. Starting off with #5 Ian Glass, this one has plenty of experience on the turf and likes to break early. The last couple races he’s come up short, but this race is a sixteenth of a mile shorter, giving this 12-1 shot a chance at the money. #2 Blackline has been putting up consistent speed figures as of recent and should continue this trend with Joel Rosario on the saddle. The slightly shortened distance compared to his previous 3 races could help in the end should his speed start to die out. I’m expecting a big return for Luis Saez today, which is why I’m putting #6 Channel Island on this list. This one may not come out of the gate hot, but his late speed has brought him to victory from behind multiple times in the past. Loving this race and not convinced the value in the favorite #4 Spirit Animal is worth hitting.
Race 7 (4:32pm): $53,000 Maiden Special Weight, 6 furlongs on the inner turf, New York Bred 3 yr olds and up
#5 Jack Of Clubs is coming off of a brief layoff after decent performances on the dirt where he recorded consistent speed figures. The first time turfer is paired with Johnny Velaquez, who rode him last time out in Aqueduct and placed 2nd on a sloppy track. With early speed, I’m liking this one at 5-1. #2 Boom Boom Kaboom had a solid race on the turf at Belmont back in September, and I think the return to turf gives this one value at 12-1. #8 Walrus Gumboot also has great early speed and trainer Kelly Breen has a great ROI for first time turfers as well.
Race 8 (5:04pm) $62,000 Optional Claiming, 6½ furlongs on the dirt, 3 yrs old and up fillies & mares
Trainer Rob Atras has been struggling at Belmont Park since its return, but I think this may be a big race for him. This is the #7 Fair Regis’ first race under Atras – previously being trained by Jason Servis – and this one is pretty apt to Belmont as well, with four wins and four places in 11 starts here. She’s got the early speed that I love in shorter races and will be in contention once again. The next Atras horse in this one is #1 Sadie Lady, who’s been improving in each race and is coming off three straight wins. Dirt sprints treat this one well, and I could see win number 4 in a row coming today. Maybe a Rob Atras exacta here? Aside from these two, I’d look at #6 Honor Way, who has nine wins under her belt and has been performing well since being shipped up to NY.
Race 9 (5:36pm): $100,000 Mike Lee Stakes, 7 furlongs on the dirt, New York Bred 3 yr olds
Here we go again, a solid stakes race in the ninth that I think we can nail. I’ll be taking #6 Captain Bombastic, who has none other than Luis Saez on the saddle. The 6’s last win came in October at Belmont, and I think the return to form begins today. #3 Gandy Dancing won his debut at Aqueduct in March, and even though the race was an extra furlong than this one, he had plenty of room as he was 7 lengths ahead of the pack when he crossed the finish line. Loving the value at 9-2, could be a nice win for Chad Brown. #4 Dream Bigger is the favorite here at 2-1, and rightfully so. Early speed figures of 120 will have this one out front early, and if he does indeed come out hot I wouldn’t be surprised if he wire-to-wire’s it. Also, I must say I’m a big fan of any Repole Stable horse.
Race 10 (6:08pm): $40,000 Claiming, 1 mile on the outer turf, 3 yr olds and up
Not the biggest fan of the last race here, as I think it’ll likely be chalk with either #8 Chantry Flats or #3 Shootin The Breeze getting the victory. That being said, I don’t dislike #8 Albie, who has plenty of experience on the turf. He should be able to keep up with the leaders, but not sure he’ll have the late speed burst that the favorites will have. The #1 Reckless Spirit is 12-1 morning line, and has been improving in recent races. Solid value and incredible late speed, but again I think the favorites may have this one.
TODAY’S PICK 5 CARD:
Going with the early pick 5 here again today…Another small ticket, but yesterday we went 4 for 5 and lost it in the 4th, so I’m out for revenge. It’s 36 bucks for a $.50 ticket, so slightly more expensive than yesterday but still very reasonable.
Let’s finish off the weekend strong, ladies and gents!
Well…we lost the early Pick 5 in the first race. Not great, Bob! Check back shortly or follow us on Twitter @SpaSaturdays, I’ll be hitting the Pick 6 that starts in the 5th race. Stay tuned.
Here’s the Pick 6 I’ll be playing here to end the weekend. $38.40 ticket.