After picking 10 winners over the last two Saturdays at Belmont, Tom Law of the Racing Post is back with his latest preview and selection for this week end!
The New York Racing Association rolls out the red carpet for domestic and international runners Saturday for its Stars and Stripes program, the last major racing day before the action on the circuit shifts north to Saratoga Race Course for that meeting later this month. Six stakes are on tap for the 10-race card, including the Grade 1 Belmont Derby and Grade 1 Belmont Oaks. After going 10-for-20 on top picks the last two weeks, it’s time to get serious, dig in and uncover some value.
Race 1 – 12.30PM EDT
It’s baby season in New York and $85,000 purse lures field of 10, including an entry from Silverton Hill, for the opener going 6 furlongs. They’re all first-time starters so perhaps best to lean toward connections who fare well in these spots. Wesley Ward trains half of the Silverton Hill entry in Nerinx, son of Scat Daddy bought for $210,000 with back-to-back quick half-mile breezes at Keeneland.
Ralph Nicks made some noise on the circuit the last couple summers and he sends out Ruckus for GoldMark Farm. Homebred son of Midnight Lute is out of dam who needed eight tries to break her maiden in fall of her 3-year-old season, so this one might need a race. Shug McGaughey doesn’t light it up with first-time starters but the regally bred Altito – a son of Bernardini out of Kentucky Oaks winner Summerly – breezed four straight bullets at Fair Hill before doing the same at Belmont laset weekend.
Selections: Altito, Bobby On Fleek, Nerinx.
Race 2 – 1:01PM EDT
The first grass race of the day – a state-bred allowance-optional going 1 mile features several exiting strong races in the slightly easier non-winners of a race other than condition against others who haven’t fared well at this condition (twice other than or three races, etc.). One that did fare well at same condition is Maura’s Pass, third last time at track and trip and proven over the course. Jason Servis in the midst of a strong meet and she looks good from the rail.
Chad Brown should always be considered in grass races on the circuit – or any circuit – and he sends out last-out winner Detail. Victory in last was a first in six tries on the grass but she frequently found trouble in races last year and earlier this spring. Price plays are My Kinda Gal, who won sprinting last time for Tom Proctor, and Feeling Bossy, a 3-year-old by Courageous Cat who comes off back-to-back wins for Jimmy Jerkens. We’ll go with the price.
Selections: My Kinda Gal, Maura’s Pass, Feeling Bossy.
Race 3 – 1:32PM EDT
Field of seven in entry-level allowance going 7 furlongs looks like typical Saratoga-type race with mix of the lightly raced and the experienced. Dreamsdocometrue, Prince Zurs and So Noted fit the latter category but might be up against it from a talent standpoint. Adulator was supposed to be the one the day before the Belmont Stakes but couldn’t get it done at 6/5. He stumbled and steadied at the start so might be worth another look, although in his three starts he’s shown that tendency twice.
So who is left? What about Ekhlaas, who comes out of the same race as Dreamsdocometrue (second) and Adulator (fourth). He battled for the lead in the stretch before being outfinished, but Irad Ortiz Jr. rides back for Kiaran McLaughlin. Promote graduated on debut May 22 for Shug McGaughey and should appreciate the added distance.
Selections: Ekhlaas, Promote, Adulator.
Race 4 – 2:08PM EDT
Back to the grass for maiden special weight going long. Races like this are often last-chance saloon here in the U.S., for horses not quick enough to win going between 8 and 9 furlongs, although trainers like Graham Motion, Bill Mott and Shug McGaughey excel in races like this. McGaughey sends out Revved Up, who just missed going the same 10-furlong trip in mid-May. Good spacing for son of Candy Ride out of champion Storm Flag Flying.
Richmond Street and Acoustic represent Mott’s barn, the former off since late April at Gulfstream and the latter unraced in September when facing Camelot Kitten (read more on him below). Acoustic gets Lasix for the first time and Joel Rosario rides the son of Tapit back.
Selections: Revved Up, Decisive Triumph, Acoustic.
Race 5 – 2:44PM EDT
The last non-stakes on the card is 7-furlong turf allowance-optional. Disco Partner couldn’t get past Pure Sensation in the Grade 3 Jaipur on Belmont Stakes Day but won going this trip last fall. He’ll need some pace to set up closing kick and finding it might prove difficult.
Wesley Ward goes with Chiltern Street, son of Giant’s Causeway who is never out of the mix and makes debut on the circuit. The cutback in distance should help and at 10-1 he’s worth a long look.
Selections: Chiltern Street, Disco Partner, Sum Up.
Race 6 – 3:20PM EDT
The Grade 3 Victory Ride gets the stakes action started and it could be a quick start with nice group of nine 3-year-old fillies set to go 6 1/2 furlongs on the dirt. One big question might be how good of a race was the Grade 3 Miss Preakness the day before the Preakness at Pimlico? If it was a strong race then Lost Raven and One True Kiss – who finished a clear-cut one-two – are the ones to beat.
Coppa ships in from Southern California with a 2-for-2 record and Joe Talamo makes the trek, too. Flatterywillgetyou rides a four-race win streak – three against state-breds – for Linda Rice and could be value on the board if her 6-1 line holds up.
Selections: Lost Raven, Flatterywillgetyou, Stradivarius.
Race 7 – 3:57PM EDT
Late blooming 3-year-olds and those not quite ready for prime time earlier this year meet in the Grade 3 Dwyer. Swipe was up to the task as a 2-year-old, finishing second four straight times to eventual champion and Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist. He was off an extended period following the Breeders’ Cup into this spring before connections made last-ditch try to make the classics in the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland. Freshened and prepped at Belmont, son of Birdstone will appreciate the added distance.
Economic Model is deserving favorite off victory in Easy Goer to start the Belmont Stakes Day card, but that race might be seriously suspect on quality. Laoban is still a maiden but didn’t run terribly in Grade 1 Blue Grass and Grade 1 Preakness in his last two starts. Tale of S’avall isn’t a sprinter, gets to run 1 mile here and is 15-1 for top connections.
Selections: Swipe, Laoban, Tale of S’avall.
Race 8 – 4:38PM EDT
Ireland’s Long Island Sound and Deauville and England’s Humphrey Bogart lured by $1.25 million purse of Grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational and they’ll take on 10 from the U.S. in 10-furlong grass test. Each of the European invaders adds Lasix off losses, albeit in top company.
Camelot Kitten has been one of North America’s best 3-year-old turf males all season and exits back-to-back graded stakes wins for top connections. The last was at Belmont in Pennine Ridge, where he topped fellow Belmont Derby entrants Highland Sky and stablemate Call Provision. Surgical Strike ran well to be third in Derby Day stakes and won as the favorite in Grade 3 Arlington Classic last time. Jose Ortiz gets aboard this time and he’s worth a look at 15-1. Another worth a stab at some value is Ralis, a punching bag as Nyquist’s workmate in Kentucky who has bounced back with two strong efforts on the grass in California.
Selections: Camelot Kitten
Race 9 – 5:13PM EDT
One of the oldest stakes on the circuit is the Suburban Handicap and it’s still a strong race despite the fact it’s only a Grade 2. This year’s renewal features a Grade 1 field with the likes of Effinex, Noble Bird, Shaman Ghost, Mubtaahij and Eagle in the mix.
Effinex threw in a rare clunker last time in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster – finishing sixth while racing on the outside – and reunites with Mike Smith. He’s 2-for-8 at Belmont, including a victory in last year’s Suburban.
Eagle always runs his race and just missed winning the Stephen Foster last time, finishing a half-length behind Bradester. Noble Bird likes things his way and had it early on last time in Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap before getting run off his feet by Frosted. No Frosted in this spot.
Selections: Effinex, Eagle, Mubtaahij.
Race 10 – 5:46PM EDT
Two major questions loom large in the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks Invitational. The first, can anyone from the U.S. beat Catch A Glimpse, we seem to know the answer to; essentially no, no one can. The second is can anyone from Europe, or at least the three who shipped over the Atlantic Ocean to try? Not surprisingly the trio all add Lasix. Coolmore and Ballydoyle represent, well, Coolmore and Ballydoyle. They were fifth and sixth, respectively, in the Group 1 Prix de Diane for Aidan O’Brien.
Catch A Glimpse shows few weaknesses in his form, riding seven-race win streak after losing her debut in an off-the-turf sprint last summer at Saratoga. She beat the boys last time in Grade 3 Penn Mile. Perhaps the biggest question is can she get the 10 furlongs?
Selections: Time And Motion, Catch A Glimpse, Coolmore.
Race 11 – 6:23PM EDT
Private Zone gets the chance to make seasonal debut in finale, the Grade 3 Belmont Sprint Championship, after being scratched from Belmont Eve stakes due to technicality over trainer’s license. If he’s right he’ll be seriously difficult to beat. Owns three wins in four starts, including this race last year and back-to-back editions of the Grade 1 Vosburgh.
No other member of the field comes close to matching his quality but a 7-year-old at a short price in his first start since late November it might be worth taking a stand against. But who? Anchor Down and Marking were whipped in the Met Mile and a couple others exit lesser races in the Mid-Atlantic. Joking upset the Grade 2 True North and Ready For Rye returns to the main track.
Selections: Private Zone, Ready For Rye, Marking.