Hard to believe Belmont Day is already here! Time flies when you’re in the midst of a doping scandal. Despite the black eye cast over the sport and the Triple Crown season caused by the Derby doping debacle, we still have a great Belmont Stakes Day card to enjoy. Tons of stakes action and top horses. Here are our thoughts on the late all-stakes Pick 5 races.
Race 7—The Ogden Phipps
A star studded field that did lose one top contender in Valiance (fever). Two of the favorites—Letruska and Shedaresthedevil are likely to head to the lead. We will look for some value here and key Bonny South at 10-1. She should get a great trip on the outside with Rosario being able to track the leaders and make an early run. She went toe to toe with Belmont Stakes favorite Elusive Quality in her last work. All systems go! We will also use her with Swiss Skydiver on top and both speed horses underneath.
A’s: 7, 1
B’s: 3, 5
Race 8—The Longines Just A Game
This is probably the most challenging race to handicap in this sequence. We will likely be going pretty deep in this race to ensure proper coverage and also in hopes of hitting a longshot. A pair of Brown’s team lands as our top A’s—Royal Glory and Blowout. The latter we like to be on the lead and potentially wire the field. Our A team member and likely key is Sweet Bye and Bye. She has run well fresh, had a big work a few weeks back and is very consistent. At 12-1 she offers a ton of value.
Abscond has hit the super in every race the last two years. She shows a paired effort on speed figures which often means a top effort could be coming. She has not won in a long time but at 20-1, she’s worth a shot. The two Appleby imports are interesting but of the two, we like Althiqa best—largely because she’s shown some liking to the distance and draws Smith. It’s possible Summer Romance is here to set a pace for Althiqa to run at. Finally, New York Girl is an improving horse that has ran competitively against this group. Mott is known for slowly developing his horses and she stand to still improve. 0-4 at the distance is concerning, but she should offer plenty of value.
A’s: 2, 4, 11
B’s: 7,8, 12
Race 9—The Met Mile
This is Knicks Go’s race to lose. By far the class of the race and he may get a pretty easy pace to dictate. The biggest question is how does he emerge from the unsuccessful Middle East trip. Many talented horses have struggled upon their return from Saudi. He’s still an A but we will not single him in case he needs a race. Silver State is turning back and distance and promises to be full of run late. He’s won five straight and is a value at 7/2.
A’s: 3, 6
Race 10—The Manhattan
At 3-1, Domestic Spending is actually decent value. Although there’s some concern he could bounce after his last effort, his speed figures are far and away tops in this race. He’s the most logical winner. Gufo is an improving horse that turns back in distance. He has historically improved second off the layoff in both prior opportunities. If he sneaks up past 5-1, he may become our key to the race (although the lack of speed may compromise this closer). Colonel Liam is a deserving favorite, having won 4 straight including two Grade 1’s. He’s the class of the field and could sit a nice outside trip just off the pace.
Bye Bye Melvin is improving and seems to be asking for this extra distance. At 30-1, he will be on our tickets. Master Piece and Rockemperor look a step slow, but with Brown, he usually has a plan for these multiple entrants so we will use as B’s.
A’s: 4, 9, 10
B’s: 2, 5, 6
Race 11: The Belmont Stakes
We really see this as a race where you can seemingly eliminate half the field. Bourbonic, France, and Overtook appear to be too slow. Romabuer—while impressive in the Preakness—is screaming to bounce off a huge career top only to run back at 1.5 miles three weeks later.
That leaves four horses. Essential Quality and Hot Rod Charlie will be our A’s. They both ran well in the Derby, took time off, have been doing well, and look poised to improve again. If they both run their race, we expect EQ to win. However, we will be playing a heavy 2/4 exacta box in the event Charlie bests EQ again. We alos enjoy the group of bros who own Chuck, and will be rooting to see them chug Natty Lights in the winner’s circle. Just outside of those two, we like Rock Your World, especially because he may be lone speed. He beat the Derby winner in his dirt debut and lost all chances in the Derby at the break. He should not be bothered by the distance, so the rest of the field will need to try to pass him late. If he creeps up past 5 or 6-1, he may become our key.
Known Agenda is a must use underneath but we are not sold on top. We know he was compromised in the Derby on the rail, and we expect him to be closer today. That said, we question his ability to get the distance.
A’s: 2, 4, 7