Happy Belmont Day. There’s nothing quite like Belmont on a year with a Triple Crown possibility. Unfortunately, that is not the case in 2017. But putting aside that disappointment, aside from the Breeders Cup, this is the best card of the year. 10 stakes races, 9 graded, 6 Grade 1’s. Plus, the return of Champion Songbird. And maybe most exciting—tons of wide open races offering value plays all day, including the Belmont itself, which could yield a big payout.
Here are our thoughts. Sorry they are brief but with Friday action and ten stakes, we ran short on time. Good luck and follow us on Twitter @thorobros for updates live from Elmont.
Race 2—Easy Goer: The first few stakes are not very exciting. 7 and 9 are likely winners. 1, 5, 6 we will use for value.
Race 3–The Brooklyn: Again, we thing the favorites will be tough and like 4, 5 on top. However, the 3 and especially the 2 could provide some value underneath in exactas. At 1 mile and 1/2 , things can get dicey at the end, so we may use the 2, 3 in some Pick 3’s.
Race 4–The Acorn: This race could offer some value. Oaks winner Abel Tasman will be the favorite. But she won’t have a ton of speed to run at and this distance may not be her best game. Our best value play is 2-Florida Fabulous. This horse was well regarded before 8 Belles on Oaks day but she had trouble at the start, missed the break, and never challenged. Here, she’s likely lone speed (with some pressure from 5) and is 2 for 2 at distance. If you excuse the last race (on sloppy track as well), her speed figures are very competitive. 15-1. 2, 5, 8 on top over 1, 3, 7.
Race 5—The Ogden Phipps: The race of the day as a fan, not the greatest race for betting. You can try to make some money by betting against Songbird off the long layoff and with mares, you never know when they may decide they no longer want to be a racehorse. That said, we will be rooting for her and anything close to her A game will win this easily. Also, the next best horse will likely be second choice Carina Mia. Maybe play the two in Pick 3’s and get some value if Mia pulls the upset. Otherwise, go have a drink and get ready for the real action which is races 6-11. 5 and 7 on top.
Race 6—The Jaipur: Great competitive turf sprint. Lots of possible winners here. 3 Pure Sensation and 4 Green Mask are most likely winners. But our value key is 9 Conquest Enforcer. He figures to get a nice stalking trip, he turns back, and speed figures as at a turf sprint. If he can repeat that number from last year, he’s right there at 15-1. We also like 7-Hogy at 8-1—44% jockey trainer win clip. A’s: 3, 4, 7, 9 B’s: 2, 6, 10.
Race 7—The Woody Stephens: We have some questions about the two favorites here. Sure American Anthem and Wild Shot could win, but the former just ran a huge number and his last trip outside of CA was a disaster. The latter is also coming off a huge effort perhaps aided by track conditions and bias. So we are looking at 3 Recruiting Ready (maybe lone speed) and 4 Gold for the King on top. Big step up for the 4 but if you trust the Ragozin numbers, this horse figures at 15-1. 3 and 4 over the 5, 7, 8, 1
Race 8 – The Just A Game: A compact but very competitive field. You could make a case for any number of these to win here, but with the Turf course coming up fairly firm, and seeing what Hawksmoor was able to do over it yesterday, we will go with Celestine to pull the repeat. Sassy Little Lila will be gunning from the gate as well, but Jose Ortiz can sit off her if necessary and get a great trip for Celestine. We like Dickinson, Roca Rojo and Antonoe to as Bs. 5 with 1,2,7. We like Harmonize the best of the double digit odds horses.
Race 9 – The Met Mile: We like one forwardly placed runner and one mid-pack closer for our A team – Sharp Azteca and Awesome Slew. Sharp Azteca ran his eyeballs out in the Middle East in the Godolphin Mile, and has had a nice break to recover from that trip halfway around the world. With Paco in the irons, the horse will be forwardly placed. The Casses have Awesome Slew in fine form, with a Grade 3 win and a Grade 2 placing in his last two efforts. He figures to be overlooked today, but may get the trip (mid-pack close down the middle of the track) that was golden on dirt yesterday. Price should be decent. Our B team is Economic Model, Mor Spirit and Denman’s Call. A fun renewal of the Met Mile. 5, 12 over 3, 7, 9.
Race 10 – The Manhattan: Sadler’s Joy will be our pick here. Perhaps did not like the soft going in the Man O’ War, and Albertrani thought he was doing well enough to wheel him back in less than 30 days. Should get a firm course and should appreciate 1 1/4. Our A team is rounded out by old friends Beach Patrol and Divisidero. Beach Patrol should be forwardly placed, and although he has a major case of second-itis, perhaps this is his day to steal it. Divisidero predictably won at CD on Derby Day, which is becoming a tradition that rivals the Masters every April. He might be a touch better and 9 furlongs instead of today’s 10, which is why we rank him a touch below the first two. Our tickets will be rounded out by World Approval and German invader Potemkin, who is an Italian Group 1 winner. 1,7,9 over 3,6.
Race 11 – the Main Event, the Belmont Stakes: While light on star power, this is a great renewal of the Belmont Stakes if you like opportunities to make money. It’s the pay leg of all the picks, including a $1.5M pick 4 and a $500k guaranteed pick 6. Adding to the wide open nature of this year’s race, there is also the annual factors of distance and the Belmont configuration which has led to major payouts in the past. Our A team here is led by Peter Pan runner-up Meantime. Jose Ortiz comes off to ride Tapwrit, but is replaced by Big Money Mike Smith, who may be the best jockey in the world at drawing speed over the course of a route race. That’s exactly what he will have to do here. The price should be right. Also, even though the price has diminished because of the scratch of Classic Empire, we will have Irish War Cry as an A. He catches a fast track, should get the distance, and if he is an “in and out” horse (i.e. good race followed by bad race), he is due for a good race. Our B team includes Tapwrit, who rallied mildly in the Derby, but was on the part of the track where you didn’t want to be on Derby Day, Senior Investment, who had a nice run in the Preakness is wheeling back hoping to hold that form, and Twisted Tom, who needs to improve from a speed figure perspective, but gets the JJ on board, and Chad Brown is convinced he will get the distance.