Selections by Ellis Starr for Belmont ParkSaturday 06/06/09

Belmont Stakes Day

Mission Statement:
To help you be a better handicapper and bettor and at the same time keep you in the game with uncommon selections and analysis.

Motto:
"Friends don't let friends bet chalk."

 

Guide to using these selections and analysis: The horses listed in BOLD at the top of each race section are the horses I think have the highest probability to win ('win contenders'). I list them according to my preference and with fair odds for determining the threshold for making win bets. Fair odds are a guide. The best way to use this report is to consider win bets at or above fair odds, starting with the top choice. If a horse is listed as a 'win contender' but below fair odds it still can be used in other ways to profit, such as in the exacta. When considering exactas remember that the 2nd best 'win contender' isn't necessarily the best horse to run second, so even though I rank horses in order that doesn't mean they will, or won't, finish in that order. When I feel an exacta is warranted I specifically say so.

 

Guide to Ratings:

  1. Race is predictable but may not offer much opportunity for profit, or is unpredictable but offers opportunity for profit if the returns are high enough.
  2. Race presents an average (decent) profit opportunity depending on the potential returns.
  3. Race that presents an exceptional profit opportunity, not necessarily that any particular horse in the race does. These races usually have vulnerable favorites, contenders at high odds, or both. Whether any horse or horses in the race present exceptional opportunity will depend on the odds and potential returns.

 

You can get detailed selections & analysis like this daily at www.trackmaster.com and www.equibase.com


Always Check Program Numbers

Race #1 - Rating = 3

#2 Night in Tunisa - Fair odds 3/1

#9 Blow Up - Fair odds 3/1

#6 Karakorum On Black - Fair odds 3/1


$1 exactas: Box 2,6,9

Box 2,5,6,9 (#5 is Living Out a Dream)

2,6,9 over 1,3,8 (#1 is Dixieland Star, #3 is Inger Management and #8 is Knife and Fork)

 

With Dixieland Star a need-the-lead type and on the rail and with Inger Management and Toque having earned all their victories leading from start to finish, it’s going to be tough for any one of them to wrest the lead from any other of them in the early stages and still have anything left for the last 1/8 of a mile when the closers kick into high gear. With Dixieland Star the 2/1 morning line favorite and now vulnerable from a pace perspective, we begin Belmont Stakes day with a KEY BETTING race full of opportunity for profit.

 

Night in Tunisa opens at a hefty 12/1, but fits this statebred NW1X allowance condition to a “T”, having broken his maiden last October here at Belmont, at this six furlong trip, in a statebred maiden special weight race. With his last start on 5/1, on turf, irrelevant in assessing his chances of success on the dirt, the same as his debut which was also a turf race, Night in Tunisa presents the same pattern for success he did when he broke his maiden last fall, incidentally going to post as the 8 to 5 favorite that day. With his ONLY other two dirt sprint starts good efforts which resulted in 3rd and 2nd place finishes and back at the conditions of his only career win, including getting the same 2 post position, Night in Tunisa gets top billing to post the upset in the opener and hopefully to set the stage for a big profit. Blow Up has a win and a runner-up effort in his two career start on a conventional dirt surface, his other two (on turf and the winterized inner track at Aqueduct) irrelevant. Coming off a five length win over the track on May 15 when breaking his maiden easily under Chavez, who rides back, Blow Up is a perfect fit at this NW1X level and can take another step forward to win again. Karakorum on Black opens at the same ridiculously high 12/1 odds as the top pick, this colt coming off a victory versus WINNERS last out at the open 15K non-winners of 2 lifetime claiming level. Although he may appear outclassed on paper, moving from open to restricted (to NY Breds only) company is really not a step up in class, particularly since the 91 Equibase Speed Figure he earned in victory is on par with the 91 that 2/1 morning line favorite Dixieland Star earned when breaking his maiden. As such, Karakorum on Black gives us another horse to consider for a win or win/place bet at potentially double digit odds.



Race #2 - Rating = 2

#3 Speight of Hand - Fair odds 9/5

#4 Turaath - Fair odds 3/1

#5 Brother Nick - Fair odds 7/2

#1 Great Emperor - Fair odds 9/2


Speight of Hand is the only horse in the field to have won at this 7 furlong distance, the win coming one before last, by 4 ½ lengths, with a 100 Equibase Speed Figure that was improved to 110 when 2nd and beaten a nose in his last start on May 10 here at Belmont in a one turn mile and one-sixteenth race. With the cut back in distance providing some needed stamina/wind in the late stages and likely to improve even more in his third start after a 5 month rest, Speight of Hand appears to be the one to beat. Turaath comes back from a layoff since last November, winning by 2 ½ lengths when last seen to break his maiden in his 2nd career start. With that victory coming off a layoff and with a best of the day workout coming into today’s race Turaath has a decent shot to pick up where he left off last fall, with a win. Brother Nick romped by 7 lengths on 5/15 in his 2nd career start and following two months off, ridden out with gas left in the tank for today’s race. With Desormeaux up for the 1st time that day and riding him back and with some extra stamina in the late stages afforded by the cut back from two turns to one this is yet another horse who might be capable of moving right through this first allowance condition.



Race #3 - Rating = 2

#2 Convocation - Fair odds 3/1

#6 Woodford Manhattan - Fair odds 7/2

#10 Allrightsreserved - Fair odds 4/1

#7 Ricoriatoa - Fair odds 9/2

#11 Wanted Alive - Fair odds 5/1


Even #12 Frenchonionsoup can be considered a win contender, at least for the purpose of inclusion on any pick 3 or 4 tickets played.

 

Convocation ran too good to lose on 4/2 after 2 months off when coming up a length short of victory after having been boxed in on the far turn and forced to steady. As it was he ended up 6 lengths clear of the next horse, and so today making his 2nd start at this one-turn mile trip at Belmont and with anything resembling a clean trip he should be found posing for pictures in the winners’ circle when all is said and done. Woodford Manhattan led from the start and got nailed on the wire by a head one before last in a highly rated race at Keeneland run at seven furlongs, the 2nd start of his career. After a poor effort when trying turf for the 1st time after the big race, Woodford Manhattan returns to one turn on the main track and with any improvement whatsoever off his last non-turf race he could have a big say in the outcome. Allrightsreserved was 2nd in the stretch two back at this trip and stayed in 2nd when crossing the wire, in January, then four months later on May 17 he led from the start and ended up beaten less than a length at the end. Making his 2nd start of the meeting and at the same distance of both runner-up finishes, Alrightsreserved should be considered for any pick 3, pick 4 or daily double tickets we play involving this race at the very least, but as win wagering opportunity he could leave something to be desired as he went to post as the 6 to 5 favorite last out and might be the prohibitive favorite again today. Ricoriatoa turned in a career best effort last out over the track on May 9 when finishing 2nd to a runaway 4 ¾ length winner. Likely to be even stronger in his 2nd start at the meeting and with Migliore riding back, he’s yet another colt with a prospect for having a big say in the outcome of the race. Wanted Alive came back from 6 months off at the end of April for his 2nd career start and finished a fine 2nd of 8, after having to wait for room to run at a critical stage of the race. With Dominguez riding back and with the colt stronger 2nd off the rest he rounds out our quintet (actually sextet if you include Frenchonionsoup) of 3 year old colts and geldings who not only have a right to win today but who make some noise in stakes races in the near future.



Race #4 - Rating = 3

#4 Uncle Indy - Fair odds 2/1 (for turf)

#1 Spurred - Fair odds 3/1 (for turf)

#10 Radical Sabbatical - Fair odds 4/1 (for turf)

#12 Jack On the Rocks - Fair odds 2/1 (if the race is run on dirt)


Exactas (for turf): 4 over 1,2,3,8,10 and also 1,4,10 over 1,2,3,4,8,10

#2 is Expansion, #3 is Slam Dunk and #8 is Blazing Dynamo (combined these three have 11 runner-up finishes in their careers on the grass but only four wins so they are okay for using on exacta tickets but don’t appear to be good win wagers)

 

Exactas (for dirt): Box 11,12,13 (#11 is Even Raise, #13 is Mr. Unstoppable)

 

Uncle Indy moved right through his maiden and first level allowance conditions in December and January on the turf, Velasquez up for both wins and riding him back after a layoff, the first win of the pair having come off a layoff so it appearing that this horse can pick up where he left off with a win for the sizzling hot Penna barn that is 5 for 12 at the meeting to date and that has won more than 1/3 of its races this year. Spurred  enters the race in winning form after a victory on 4/25 at the one lower NW1X allowance level, Dominguez up then as now, as well as for another of the horse’s four career wins. Having put “A” races back-to-back previously and having won over this course earlier in his career, by 5 ¼ lengths, Spurred can take advantage of a ground saving trip from the rail and could earn career win #5 today. Radical Sabbatical has four runner-up finishes in his career and just two wins but one of those wins came here at Belmont last fall at this 1 1/16 mile turf trip, by 6 ½ lengths. Coming off a fine runner-up effort at this NW2X level last out with Prado up, Edgar also responsible for his last win, in February at the one lower NW1X level, Radical Sabbatical is sending all the signals that he should be a part of the exacta at the very least in this situation. If the race moves off the turf and onto the main track, Jack On the Rocks is the one to beat because he is likely the one to catch, having wired the field very easily one before last here at Belmont at the NW1X level at 7 furlongs under Chavez, who rides today. Last out at this level the colt never saw the lead and so faded to 4th after pressing the pace in 2nd in the early stages, but in this field (after scratches) he could have the early lead all to himself once again from the start and never look back.



Race #5 - Rating = 3

#11 Precursor - Fair odds 2/1 (for turf or dirt)

#3 Get Stormy - Fair odds 3/1 (for turf)

#4 So It Goes - Fair odds 3/1 (for turf)

#5 Le Grand Cru - Fair odds 3/1 (for dirt)

#14 Joe Corrigan - Fair odds 3/1 (for dirt)


For exactas on turf (although none are specifically recommended) use the three listed above and also consider #5Le Grand Cru, #7 Parc des Princes, #9 Western Influence, #10 Sette E Mezzo & #13 Hangingbyathread.

 

For exactas on dirt (although none are specifically recommended) use the three listed above and also consider #1a Haitian Sensation , #12 Alexandros and #15 Overextended.

 

Precursor may turn out to be a “KEY LONGSHOT” bet on the card, starting at 15 to 1 odds in spite of having won his last race by 12 lengths. Mike Luzzi rode him to that victory, over the main track here at Belmont on 5/3, a race scheduled for turf originally. Having been off for 2 months prior to the win, Precursor has improving to do, and as he won at the maiden special weight level he fits fine at this first allowance condition. More pluses in his favor are that trainer Albertrani has been first or second with 14 of 21 starters at the meeting to date and as a grandson of Danehill he should take to the turf like a duck to water if the race stays on the grass. Get Stormy was in front by 5 and was going to win at this level in a turf race in March but saw something that made him duck in, resulting in losing the jockey. After 2 months off he came back over this course on 5/20 and rallied to miss by a half length after having to wait for room to run at the critical stage of the race, so making his 2nd start off the layoff and with just a bit better racing luck he could be the one getting his picture taken in the winners’ circle today. So It Goes also finished 2nd over the course recently, on May 14, at the level and following 7 months off, so he too has  a right to improve and to win just as he did 13 months ago when breaking his maiden here on the Belmont turf. Le Grand Cru was a length and one-half behind Get Stormy in that 5/20 race here at Belmont, his turf and two turn debut, so with Castellano riding back, up for his maiden win as well, this colt could take the needed step forward and post the upset today. Joe Corrigan gets a nice look if the race is moved to dirt, being entered for the main track only and winning by a neck two back in a race scheduled for turf and moved to dirt as this may be, jockey Maylan Studart in the saddle then, now, and for the gelding’s last victory as well, in March. With two of his four career wins coming in one turn routes as this race will be if moved to the dirt, Joe Corrigan must be strongly considered as a win contender.



Race #6 - Rating = 3

The True North Handicap

 

#3 Two Step Salsa - Fair odds 3/2


Exactas: Box 3,2 (Silver Edition)

Also play 3 over 1,6 (#1 is Benny the Bull, #6 is Fabulous Strike)

 

Rather than state why I think Benny the Bull and Fabulous Strike can’t win, I’ll just tell you why I think Two Step Salsa is going to win, and why he is a “SINGLE” (the only horse to use one a leg on consecutive race tickets such as the Pick 3 and Pick 4), as well as why I feel strongly that he is a “LOW ODDS OVERLAY” win bet on the card at anywhere near his 3 to 1 starting odds. Two Step Salsa  won the Grade 1 Godolphin Mile in his most recent start at the end of March, a world class race with a field of 15 including Gayego and Informed. Sitting off the pace early before rallying for that win as well as for his win before that at this six furlong distance in a 150K non-graded stakes, Two Step Salsa shipped over from Dubai in mid-May and has put in two strong workouts since that demonstrate he is in the same form he was when winning those two races. With Garrett Gomez taking the call and with the ability to sit off the lead in a race that could have a very hot (and hotly contested) early pace scenario, the most important factor in Two Step Salsa emerging victorious here is that he is on a nearly identical pattern to the one that preceded Benny the Bull’s victory in this race last year, Benny having won the Dubai Golden Shaheen on the World Cup card in March then taking the same 2 ½ months off before winning this race.



Race #7 - Rating = 3

The Just A Game Stakes

 

#6 Modern Look - Fair odds 2/1

#1 Carribean Sunset - Fair odds 5/2

#5 Forever Together - Fair odds 5/2

#3 Captain's Lover - Fair odds 4/1


Modern Look was coming back from 9 months off on March 13 when racing the taxing (and tactical) distance of one mile on turf in a non-graded stakes in California yet she still nearly won, leading late and beaten under a length on the wire. Ignoring the race that led to the layoff and necessitated her coming to the U.S. to run on Lasix, Modern Look won an important Group 2 stakes in England with a purse of $200K prior to that at the same mile turf trip as this race. With a 4 for 8 career record (excluding the pre-layoff race) and likely to move forward significantly in form in her 2nd stateside start, and with the 109 Equibase Speed Figure earned the same as Forever Together earned when winning the Grade 1 First Lady Stakes at Keeneland last fall, higher than the 103 Forever Together earned winning the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf last fall, it appears that Modern Look has a big shot to post the upset win today. Carribean Sunset also makes her 2nd start after a lengthy layoff from September to May, getting a lot out of her runner-up effort on May 2 in the Grade 3 Beaugay Stakes over this course. Having defeated males at this trip last summer in a Group 3 stakes in Ireland and beaten just a pair of heads and a neck  last May in the $630,000 Irish 1000 Guineas, Carribean Sunset has proven time and again that she’s a top class turf start and must be strongly respected when considering our wagers involving this race. It is very tough to rank a horse of the caliber Forever Together as low as third on the list of win contenders here but really she’s just as good as the other three contenders if she and they run their best races, not a standout as her prohibitive odds will suggest. Captain’s Lover was purchased by Team Valor some time following her 4th place effort in the Group 1 Prix de a Foret, versus males, in October, which followed a sharp win versus males in the Group 3 Prix du Pin in September. Having won a group 1 race at this mile turf trip earlier in her career and with John V riding for Pletcher, this mare with a 6 for 9 career record will likely be flying under the radar of many a bettor and handicapper and as such she must be considered with a shot to have a say in the outcome of this race.



Race #8 - Rating = 2

The Woody Stephens Stakes

 

#1a Everyday Heroes (coupled with #1 Regal Ransom) - Fair odds 8/5

#4 Munnings - Fair odds 3/1

#2 This Ones for Phil - Fair odds 3/1


Everyday Heroes enters the Woody Stephens a perfect four-for-four in his career, his most recent win coming in the Grade 3 Hirsch Jacobs Stakes on Preakness day, easily dominating by 3 ¾ lengths in spite of having been forced to steady early. With jockey Caraballo up for the win when riding him for the first time and accompanying him from Maryland to New York, Everyday Heroes should run even better than last out as evidenced by a sparkling four furlong, 46.6 best of 32 workout on June 2. With a 117 Equibase Speed Figure earned in the Jacobs that is tied with the figure This Ones for Phil earned when 2nd in the Withers recently and with the rest of the field nowhere nearly as fast as that figure represents, Everyday Heroes gets a strong push to keep his perfect record intact with a win in this race. Munnings earned a career best 104 figure last out when leading late and ending up 2nd at the end, the fact he tired a bit understandable as he had been away from the races since finishing 10th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Used as a workmate for Dunkirk for most of that one’s spring campaign (until recently), Munnings belongs at this level to be sure by virtue of having finished third behind Vinyard Haven in the Hopeful Stakes last September at Saratoga and then 2nd behind that same colt in the Champagne Stakes in October. Therefore, with logical improvement due in his 2nd start off the long layoff Munnings may be the one that Everyday Heroes has to fear the most if he wants to keep his perfect record intact. This Ones for Phil wasn’t disgraced when 2nd to Mr. Fantasy in the Withers at the end of April, before that moved up to first via the disqualification of Big Drama in the Swale Stakes. Although not the phenom suggested after winning the Sunshine Millions Dash in January with a remarkable 121 figure, nevertheless This Ones for Phil appears to be very capable of having a say in the outcome of this race and if you play the exacta without including him you do so at your own peril.



Race #9- Rating = 3

The Acorn Stakes

 

#2 Gabby's Golden Gal - Fair odds 5/2

#8 Justwhistledixie - Fair odds 5/2

#9 Four Gifts - Fair odds 5/2


Exacta: Box 2,8,9

 

In trying to take the racetrack away from the incomparable Rachel Alexandra in the early stages of the Kentucky Oaks, Gabby’s Golden Gal ended up running the first six furlongs on the lead in 1:11.8, much too fast a fraction for that 9 furlong race over that racetrack. However, the interior speed figure that Gabby’s Golden Gal earned was around 118, which means that while still leading at the mile mark, the point at which this Acorn Stakes ends, she ran FASTER than any horse in this field has run, EVER! On the cut back to one turn and with two strong workouts over the track following the Oaks, this gal who destroyed the field in the Sunland Park Oaks by 13 lengths prior to the Kentucky Oaks and who is trained by Bob Baffert  could post the upset in the Acorn as a KEY LONGSHOT as she opens at 15 to 1 odds. Justwhistledixie is the one most likely to be sitting in 2nd or third as Gabby’s Golden Gal goes about her business on the lead or off the pace of Dream Play, Justwhistledixie having won five in a row including two graded stakes and fortunately passing on the Kentucky Oaks in anticipation of running in this race. With a win in her only start previously at this one turn mile trip and with Leparoux riding her back after being up for victory in the G2 Bonnie Miss in her last start, if Justwhistledixie repeats or improves upon the 115 figure effort she put forth at this trip in the Grade 2 Davona Dale in March off a layoff very similar to the one she’s coming back from today she certainly can win. Four Gifts returned from 2 months off in May and after being crushed by Rachel Alexandra in the Fair Grounds Oaks and won the Eight Belles Stakes on the Kentucky Derby undercard very nicely by 3 lengths. That 7 ½ furlong trip being very similar to this one-turn mile, and with improving to do in her 2nd start off the short rest, Four Gifts rounds out our trio of contenders in the Acorn, noting however that she would need to improve a bit off her career best 107 figure effort in order to run to the 115 or 120 figure that the winner of this race is likely to earn.



Race #10- Rating = 2

The Manhattan Handicap

 

#11 Lauro - Fair odds 4/1 (win and place bet recommended at potentially high odds)

#9 Cosmonaut - Fair odds 4/1

#5 Gio Ponti - Fair odds 4/1

#1 Court Vision - Fair odds 4/1


Exactas: 11 with 1,2,5,9,12 and 1,2,5,9,12 THEN ALSO 9 with 1,2,5,12 and 1,2,5,12 with 9

#2 is Champs Elysees (not 2b Zambezi Sun), #12 is Cowboy Cal

 

Notes: With both Champs Elysees and Zambezi Sun having Leparoux named to ride and knowing Juddmonte rarely runs one of its horses against another, it is likely one of the pair will be scratched.

 

Additionally, the only reason in the world that a $20K claimer like Optimer is entered in this race is to be the “Rabbit” for his stablemate Court Vision, both owned by IEAH Stables. This is a legal maneuver more often used in Europe than in North America and the most important thing to note when finding a “rabbit” in a race is that horses in addition to the one that shares common ownership can and often do benefit from the “rabbit”.

 

Lauro should not be the 15 to 1 that she starts at but there is no complaint on this end, as this top notch turf star who won the Grade 2 Sky Classic Stakes last October at Woodbine then who finished 2nd in the G2 Red Smith Handicap in November can post the upset in the Manhattan Handicap. Following the Red Smith, Lauro went back to Europe for the winter, returning in the G2 Dixie Stakes on Preakness day, setting the pace and battling gamely all the way to the wire, beaten a neck for the third spot and 2 lengths for the win. With two workouts at Belmont since raced and likely to be a lot tighter 2nd off the 5 ½ month layoff, as well as returning to the a longer distance than the Dixie and one that he’s better suited for. Lauro fits on all counts to be first, or at least second, thereby adding to his 7 for 11 record of finishing in the top two in his career to date. Cosmonaut came back from 10 months off to win the Grade 3 Fort Marcy Stakes on this turf course on May 2, and so this former Grade 1 placed (by a neck) horse who gets Lezcano back after being up for the 1st time in victory last out must be considered strongly for any and all wagers we make involving this race because he also has been first or second in a majority (15 of 26) of his turf races. Gio Ponti comes into the Manhattan off a win in the Grade 1 Kilroe Mile in March, having won the Virginia Derby last July at this 10 furlong distance as well as possessing a 2-1-0 record on this turf course in three tries on it. With Gomez having ridden him to four of his six career wins including the Virginia Derby and with Gio Ponti flattered when Kilroe third place finisher Dixie Chatter came back to win the Arcadia Handicap, we have yet another grade 1 turf star to consider as a contender for all the marbles. Court Vision, as previously mentioned, gets the benefit of a “rabbit” to ensure an honest early pace, one that benefits his late running style. Although he has finished no better than third in three races since leaving the three-year-olds only ranks last fall, all three were grade one events and there is no disgraces in finishing third behind Einstein or Kip Deville as Court Vision did in the two races that were run on turf. Having won over this turf course last fall in the G2 Jamaica Handicap when Gio Ponti and hopefully with a brisk pace to compliment his closing kick, Court Vision rounds out or quartet of contenders for the major share of the purse in the Manhattan.



Race #11- Rating = 2

The Belmont Stakes

 

#4 Summer Bird - Fair odds 9/2

#2 Dunkirk - Fair odds 5/1

#7 Mine That Bird - Fair odds 4/1

#1 Chocolate Candy - Fair odds 5/1

#6 Charitable Man - Fair odds 9/1


$1 exactas:

2,4,7 over all (cost is $27)

2,4,7 over 1,2,3,4,6,7,8 (cost is $18)

1,3,6,8 over 2,6,7 (cost is $12)

#3 is Mr. Hot Stuff, #8 is Flying Private

 

Summer Bird finished sixth in the Derby after running in 16th position for the first six furlongs and still in 15th with just one-quarter of a mile to run. Attempting to maneuver inside on the turn and finding Mine That Bird was in high gear and would get the rail spot he was going for, Summer Bird then angled out seven paths wide in the stretch and kicked in pretty well to end up sixth, losing the photo finish for fifth with Chocolate Candy (and the $60,000 paycheck) by inches. Prior to the Derby, Summer Bird earned a career best 110 Equibase Speed Figure when closing from last of 10 to finish third in the Arkansas Derby. Summer Bird gets a change in jockey to Kent Desormeaux, whose last ride in the Belmont before Big Brown’s disappointing effort last year was a fine second place finish on Medaglia d’Oro in the 2002 Belmont. Summer Bird will race with blinkers for the first time in the Belmont to help him focus on the task at hand and be better positioned early in the race. Like the Derby winner, Summer Bird is a son of Birdstone and therefore has a good opportunity to post the upset and win the Belmont.  

 

Dunkirk did not stop trying in the Derby although compromised after stumbling a few strides after the start then jostled pretty badly and forced to steady back to 10th in the early stages. As a grandson of classic winners (1992 Belmont winner A.P. Indy and 1990 Derby winner Unbridled), Dunkirk is definitely bred to handle the mile and one-half Belmont trip. Rested five weeks in the same manner as four of the last six winners of the Belmont, and with a better early position in the Belmont than he had in the Derby, Dunkirk has a big chance to return to the competitive graded stakes form shown when earning a career best 111figure in finishing second to Quality Road in the Florida Derby.

 

Mine That Bird proved his upset win in the Kentucky Derby was no fluke when in the Preakness he rallied seven paths wide after being forced to wait for room to run at the quarter pole then passed everyone but the filly to finish second. Beaten just a length by Rachel Alexandra, Mine that Bird nevertheless improved off his Derby effort to earn a new career best 119 figure. Reunited with Calvin Borel for the Belmont and being a son of 2004 Belmont winner Birdstone as well as a grandson of Smart Strike (sire of 2007 Belmont runner-up Curlin), Mine That Bird certainly fits on all counts to run well enough to win the Belmont.

 

Chocolate Candy rallied from 15th with three-quarters of a mile to run in the Derby and ended up passing nearly half the 19 horse field to end up fifth at the wire, a neck in front of Summer Bird. Although he regressed from the 112 figure earned when second in the Santa Anita Derby to a 96 figure in the Kentucky Derby, Chocolate Candy proved his mettle in top company prior to the Santa Anita Derby with back-to-back stakes wins in the California Derby and El Camino Real Derby. Jockey Garrett Gomez returns to the saddle for the Belmont, having ridden Chocolate Candy to victory in the Real Quiet Stakes last November. Returning to the form shown in the Santa Anita Derby and as a grandson of 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew, Chocolate Candy is another that could have a big say in the outcome of the Belmont.

 

Charitable Man has won all three of his career starts on a conventional dirt track, including his most recent effort on May 9 when victorious in the Peter Pan Stakes. Having won two races at Belmont and on a pattern for more improvement off the career best 99 figure he earned winning the Peter Pan, Charitable Man also gets the services of Alan Garcia. With Alan having been in the saddle for all three of his career wins and the jockey that rode Da’ Tara to a $79 upset win in last year’s Belmont, Charitable Man must be taken very seriously when considering contenders to run well in the Belmont. 

 

For exotic wagers, such as the trifecta and superfecta, the D. Wayne Lukas-trained pair of Luv Gov and Flying Private cannot be totally discounted. Luv Gov, a son of 2004 Belmont runner-up Ten Most Wanted, earned a then career best 103 figure winning one race before rallying from 12th to eighth in the Preakness, while Flying Private rallied from 10th to fourth in the Preakness to earn a career best 115 figure. Of the Nick Zito trained pair of Brave Victory and Miner’s Escape, Brave Victory gets slight preference coming into the Belmont off a nice rally from 17 lengths back early to end up third in the Peter Pan. However, the 91 figure Brave Victory earned in that effort seems out of touch with the main contenders in the Belmont. Miner’s Escape won the Federico Tesio Stakes on the Preakness undercard, but the 90 figure earned is not much to look at. That being said, it still may be difficult to forget that Zito’s two recent winners of the Belmont were completely overlooked by the public, with Da’ Tara returning $79 last year and with Birdstone paying $74 in winning the 2004 Belmont. Mr. Hot Stuff rounds out the Belmont field, having finished 15th in the Derby in his most recent start, his best career effort just prior to that then third, earning a career best 111 figure when a length behind runner-up Chocolate Candy in the Santa Anita Derby. With a style that suggests he may be able to pass quite a few runners in the late stages of the Belmont, Mr. Hot Stuff is another to be considered for our exacta tickets and other similar exotic wagers.



Race #12- Rating = 1

#1 Storm Hope - Fair odds 9/5 (for turf)

#14 African Knight - Fair odds 9/5 (for dirt)


Storm Hope gets the ground saving rail and need only show logical improvement from his 2 year old form, making his first start as a 3 year old. When last seen last October, in a turf race, he rallied from 10 lengths back to finish 2nd of 12 and with a good workout from the gate coming into the race and with Dominguez riding for the rock solid Barclay Tagg barn he appears to be the one to beat with a repeat of last fall’s effort. African Knight is entered for the main track only so is the one to beat if the race comes off the turf, running a huge race in his career debut on 5/2 when rallying from 3rd to lead late and ending up 2nd of 8 at the end. With physical and mental improvement likely in his 2nd career start, Castellano up now as then, and making his 2nd start here at Belmont, African Knight should be very tough to beat if the race goes on the main track.



Race #13- Rating = 2

#6 Masterofthehouse - Fair odds 5/2 (for turf)

#4 Manchild - Fair odds 5/2 (for turf)

#14 Wanda's Double - Fair odds 5/2 (for dirt)

##16 Lincoln Road - Fair odds 5/2 (for dirt)


Masterofthehouse opens at 8 to 1 odds while Manchild starts at 2 to 1 odds, a disparity we have a duty to try to capitalize on, because both horses won at this 6 furlong trip over this turf course recently, both earning the identical 85 Equibase Speed Figure. With both expected to move up now that they’ve figured out what is expected of them and both having proven a liking for this course and distance, they could come together at the wire, both perfect fits at this non-winners of 2 claiming level after breaking their maidens in maiden claiming races at the same level. Wanda’s Double and Lincoln Road are both entered for the main track only, Wanda’s Double getting alight preference making his 3rd start off a 6 month layoff with a significant jockey change to Dominguez off a fine runner-up effort to improve upon. Lincoln Road comes back from 5 ½ months off, losing Dominguez to Wanda’s Double but picking up Coa first off the Brown claim, the colt having rallied from just off the pace last July to win in his 2nd career start so perhaps in the right place at the right time to capitalize if likely early leader Wanda’s Double can’t go all the way in front.



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