I really like Saturday’s card at Belmont Park. The stakes races later in the day feature strong fields, most notably the Grade 3 Bold Ruler, which reads moreso like a somewhat-light Grade 1 given the entrants contesting the race. I’ve got a pair of multi-race exotics tickets for your consideration, and I’ll dissect them next!
$0.50 Pick Five: Race #1
R5: 5,6,8,12 (11)
96 Bets, $48
I found the Pick Five sequence absolutely fascinating. My lone single is no huge favorite, and if we’re able to get this ticket home, it could give us plenty of bullets to fire during the Breeders’ Cup next weekend.
I needed to spread in the opener, a 10-furlong maiden race on the turf with no clear favorite. Similarly, I had no real convictions about the second leg, a $20,000 claimer going 6 ½ furlongs on the main track. #2 GAMBLER’S GHOST will be dangerous if left alone on the front end, but he’s done his best running at Monmouth, not Belmont, and sometimes that form doesn’t translate. With that in mind, I needed to use fellow logical horses #3 SARATOGA WILDCAT and #4 SET THE TRAPPE, the latter of whom is returning to his appropriate class level after finding starter allowance company too strong last time out.
My single comes in the third, a turf sprint for state-bred maidens. I really like #3 THROW THE DEUCE, who ran very well in his debut two back. They tried to stretch him out last time, and he didn’t have the best of trips that day. A return to sprinting should suit him, this field seems a bit soft for the level, and Joel Rosario climbing back aboard is a big plus. He’s 7/2 on the morning line, and given the big field signed on, we may get that price.
I’m two-deep in the fourth. #2 MIDNIGHT CELLO drops down sharply off the claim by David Jacobson, but he’s won regularly with these runners in the past. In case that one isn’t ready to fire, I’ll also use #6 POINT HOPE, who romped at this level two back and returns to it after finishing third in a starter allowance at Saratoga.
I’m four-deep to finish things off, and if you’ve got deeper pockets, there’s another you may want to consider. This is a maiden race for 2-year-olds going a mile on the turf, and while #5 BLOCKADE and #8 CONGRUITY will take money, I didn’t think either was a cinch. I’ll also use #6 WITCH DOCTOR and #12 THUNDER MESA (the latter of whom finished a half-length behind Congruity last time out and is way too big a price on the morning line). If you have the money, or if one of those horses scratches, don’t sleep on #11 FAST BOAT. He’s bred up and down for turf (by City Zip, out of a Lemon Drop Kid mare), and a few of his workouts hint that this Robert Evans homebred may have some talent.
$0.50 Pick Four: Race #7
48 Bets, $24
Right off the bat, we’ve got a single that makes me nervous. The kickoff leg is the Grade 3 Athenia, and your favorite, #7 OFF LIMITS, is a horse I chased for most of 2016. Fittingly, right as I put her on my “never again” list, she turned a corner, winning three of four to this point in 2017 and earning a 105 Beyer Speed Figure in her Grade 3 Noble Damsel score. A repeat of that race, or even something close to it, would make her very tough, and if she doesn’t win, I don’t know who does. It’s a “hold your nose” single, but a single nevertheless.
The eighth is the Grade 3 Turnback the Alarm, and I thought this was a two-horse race. #3 MISS SKY WARRIOR is very good when she’s right, and the recent workouts indicate she may be in peak form. I’ll also use #7 ESKENFORMONEY, who gets a bit of class relief in this spot after chasing Forever Unbridled and Elate in her last two starts. If you want to pick one and single, I get it, but thanks to my single in the opening leg, I can cover my bases and use both.
The ninth is the Grade 3 Bold Ruler, and there are plenty of fun horses in here. #9 SEYMOURDINI returns off a long layoff, #7 STALLWALKIN’ DUDE has won 19 of 57 career starts, and both figure to take money. However, I want coverage, and I’ll get it with several value plays. #1 TALE OF S’AVALL may get plenty of pace to set up his late kick, #5 TOMMY MACHO has chased some of the top sprinters and milers around for most of the year, #10 MR. CROW was less than 3-1 in the Grade 1 Vosburgh and could be sitting on a bounce-back effort, and #11 DIVINING ROD was second in the Grade 2 Kelso and good enough to win this on his best day. Got enough storylines here? It’s a tremendous race, and kudos to the folks in the NYRA racing office for attracting so much talent (including several horses that wouldn’t be totally out of place at next weekend’s Breeders’ Cup).
We’ll close out the card with the Awad for 2-year-olds on turf. #6 WAR CHEST did something very few Shug McGaughey trainees do, which is win at first asking. He’ll likely be favored, and he could win, but watch the fifth carefully. If Congruity and Thunder Mesa don’t run well, his stock takes a hit. I’m four-deep here, and my top pick is a price. #9 DEVINE ENTRY wants as much distance as possible and stretches out past a sprint distance for the first time. He’s by Point of Entry, who did his best work at marathon distances, and Jose Ortiz getting the mount could signal that this improving colt is sitting on a big one. Given the solid form and likely price (he’s 8-1 on the morning line), I think he’s a must-use, and hopefully, he wins the payoff leg of the late Pick Four and keys a nice score for us!