Friday is Belmont Stakes Eve, and it presents many wagering opportunities. I’ve got a Pick Five, a late Pick Four, and two spot plays, which I’ll lay out below!
$0.50 Pick Five: Race #1
96 bets, $48
I’ll start things off with a single. Bobby On Fleek is 2-for-2 in non-stakes races, and I’m completely throwing out the Pat Day Mile, where clearly something went wrong. This is a much softer spot, and if you’re opting to play a budget-conscious ticket, you need to single somewhere. As such, I’ll take my stand in the opening leg.
I’ll spread in the second and third legs. She’s Dreamin is my top pick in the second given her impressive debut, but I’ll also throw in several others, including Rock Ave. Road. She’s 12-1, but finished just a half-length behind She’s Dreamin last time out, and that was her first start since November. Meanwhile, I’ll try to beat Zennor in the third, as I think he wants two turns, not one. I don’t think there’s much speed signed on, so likely second choice Fox Rules could get brave on the front end.
The fourth race is a tough maiden event. Marshall Plan will likely be favored off a near-miss in his debut at Keeneland, but there are a few others that merit consideration. Mr Classical is a regally-bred first-time starter whose second dam is Grade 1 winner Flute, while Irst likely needed his race in April off a long layoff. His debut was a sharp second behind an eventual graded stakes winner, and his dam is a half to a pair of Grade 1 winners (including strong sire Arch). Finally, I’ll use the two likely favorites in the Tremont to close things out. Direct Dial and Salmanazar were both impressive winners over good groups at Keeneland, and I’ll gamble that a repeat effort by either runner would be good enough to win this.
Race #6: #3 Brianbakescookies (10-1)
The sixth is a turf route contested at 1 3/8 miles. The likely favorite is Rocketry, and I don’t think that one is terribly-meant after a horrible trip last month. However, there’s very little early speed signed on, with the possible exception of my spot play, who’s a juicy 10-1 on the morning line.
Brianbakescookies returned off a long layoff and faded going shorter. That race proved to be a solid one when the runner-up came back to win at next asking, and this barn has excelled with horses removing blinkers. Joel Rosario coming aboard is another plus, and I think Brianbakescookies could sit a dream trip while setting very slow early fractions.
Race #7: #3 Bricks and Mortar (7/2)
Gulfstream Park’s turf course tends to play very fast. As such, it’s not ideal for a horse (let alone a first-time starter) to rate several lengths behind a :49 and change half-mile. Not only did Bricks and Mortar do that, he rallied wide and won going away.
There’s obviously the possibility of a bounce in this spot, and this field is a solid one. However, Bricks and Mortar is bred to be a very good horse, and I think he could show further improvement at second asking. As such, I think 7/2 is a very fair price.
$0.50 Pick Four: Race #8
52 bets, $26
I’ll start and end my ticket with singles, which allows me to get plenty of coverage in the middle. Whitmore will be very tough to beat in the True North. There’s a ton of early speed signed on, and he should be rolling late at a short price. Additionally, By the Moon loves Belmont Park, having won three of four local starts. Her lone defeat at Big Sandy came in the 2015 Acorn, where she did lots of the dirty work before finishing a close second to multiple Grade 1 winner Curalina. She’s not a standout, per se, but this is a situation where many horses all figure similarly behind her, and if she doesn’t win, I don’t know who does.
The middle two legs, meanwhile, are much tougher. I’m going four-deep in the New York, and if Suffused is 6-1 at post time, I think she’s worth a win bet. She hasn’t finished worse than second in her last seven starts, and there should be plenty of pace to set up for her late kick. Meanwhile, I have no idea how to even begin to decipher the two-mile Belmont Gold Cup. I simply couldn’t find a way to narrow down the field, so I punched the “ALL” button, and I’m hoping to get a price home (especially since I’m starting and ending the sequence with short-priced favorites).