After responses to an impromptu Twitter poll, I’ve taken a look at Saturday’s card at Belmont Park, as well as the $500,000 Ohio Derby. Unfortunately, the vote was conducted before strong overnight rain swept through Long Island, and as such, the Belmont card has been ravaged by scratches and races taken off the turf. If you came Friday or early Saturday morning, you saw Pick Five and Pick Four tickets that no longer apply. Below are my updated efforts, as well as an attempt to play the Ohio Derby on a $20 budget.
$0.50 Pick Five: Race #1, Belmont Park
72 Bets, $36
My opening leg single scratched due to the mud, and two races within the sequence (the third and the fifth) came off the turf. I’m going two-deep to start, using Kissin Cassie and Bellelarama (the latter of whom moves up significantly on a wet track). My original ticket had Giant Ending in the second leg, but I threw her out due to her recent poor race in the slop. I’m still three-deep there, and I likely have the three betting favorites.
We’re down to a field of four in the third race, and I think it’s a match race between Puca and Jewels N Rome. I added Shoot the Gap into the fourth leg (to go along with likely betting favorites Basic Hero and Won’t Burn), and I’m two-deep in the payoff leg. Frostie Anne has strong dirt form (especially if you toss her clunkers over the inner track at Aqueduct, which she clearly does not like), and Treatherlikestar won at first asking on dirt before trying races that were simply too tough.
$0.50 Pick Four: Race #7, Belmont Park
40 Bets, $20
I thought this was a great sequence when all races were projected to stay on the turf. However, the last two races (one of which is still on turf) are still extremely wide-open. If we can get a price home in one or both of those races, this could pay more than you think.
I was really looking forward to the seventh when it was on turf, as I didn’t like probable favorite Elenzee. We’re down to a field of four, and main-track-only entrant Broken Engagement looks very tough. There’s no other early speed left in the race, and I think he’ll have things all his own way on the front end at a short price.
The second of two back-to-back singles comes in the Saturday feature. The eighth race is the Wild Applause, and while some quality fillies have signed on, I think Rubilinda could be a different kind of animal. It’s not easy to rate at first asking, but this regally-bred daughter of Frankel did just that and won going away. Improvement is logical at second asking, and I think she could be a very nice turf filly for Chad Brown, who seems to have a barn full of them.
This structure allows us to spread in the last two legs, which is good because, as mentioned, they’re not easy. The two Chad Brown trainees (Call Provision and Converge) may be best in the ninth, but the former comes off a layoff and the latter is untested at this distance, so I opted for a bit more coverage. Meanwhile, the last race is complete and total chaos given the move to dirt. None of these horses have much in the way of proven form, so I’ve bought the race and will hope for a price if we can get to that point.
BETTING THE OHIO DERBY ON A $20 BUDGET
In handicapping the Ohio Derby, I took the approach that the Kentucky Derby is a complete throw-out for all horses who ran there. None of them ran well that day, for various reasons, and the wet track certainly didn’t make things any easier.
Girvin is certainly a logical favorite, and he’s my top pick and exacta key. His races prior to the Derby were pretty sharp, and much was made about foot issues he had leading up to that race. He’s worked well since the Derby, and most recently fired a five-furlong bullet drill on June 17th.
The other horse I’ll use in my bigger exacta play is Untrapped. He hasn’t won in a while, but I firmly believe he could sit a dream trip in this race. There isn’t much early speed, and he’s shown an ability to be forwardly placed. He’s a decent price (9/2) on the morning line, and he could produce some value in the exotics.
I’ll also throw in the three-horse entry of Talk Less, Vibe, and Game Over, as well as Blue Grass winner Irap. Of the entry, I most prefer Vibe, who has yet to run a bad race in four starts this season and whose speed figures are on an upward trend. I actually took a flyer on him two back at Charles Town, and he ran a sneaky-good race that day at 28-1 considering how much he struggled going into the first turn.
Meanwhile, I’m not crazy about Irap, who may be overbet given his perfect-trip win in the Blue Grass two back. However, with the relative lack of early zip signed on, there’s a chance he gets that trip again. As such, I need to at least throw him into my smaller exacta play.
$4 exacta box: 3,5 ($8)
$2 exacta key box: 5 w/1,2,3 ($12, $20)