Wednesday, June 25, 2014
TimeformUS Analyst Mike Beer
TimeformUS Belmont Analysis for Thursday, June 26
Race 1: In the opener, there is nowhere to go with any real enthusiasm, at least as far as we can see. #3 Glickman is the most-talented horse, by far, but is returning from a layoff of over two years. We can't recommend betting real money on him but don't love the alternatives, either. #2 Silver Morgan has twice contested the pace and proven no match since switching back from grass recently, and there is plenty of other speed signed on here. Maybe #1 Indy Sea is the best option, as he got back to a good race on turf last time, can run his race on dirt, and doesn't need the lead.
Race 2: With two of the early favorites for this race, #4 Brilliant Jewel and #6 Ridingwiththedevil, difficult for us to endorse strongly, we went looking for alternatives in this race. The obvious one is #3 Dragonberry (a Todd Pletcher-trained first-time starter by Unbridled's Song), who is from the female family of Paynter and Tiznow, among others. We can use her in here, especially if she winds up being bet strongly, but it is worth noting that all horses debuting out of this barn are not made equal. While Pletcher is especially dangerous with horses making their first career start at places like Saratoga (with 2yos) and Gulfstream (with newly turned 3yos), he pulls a modest rating of 64 with older first-time-starting maidens overall.
We'll see what happens with that horse, but the one we're going to try to breathe some life into is #1 Ribbon Cutter. Ribbon Cutter, whose second dam is the multiple graded stakes winning dirt runner Runway Model, has run only twice to date, and not very competitively yet. However, those races were not particularly easy spots, and she has yet to catch a fast dirt track (let's hope we have one today). She made her debut at the end of last year's Saratoga meet over a sloppy sealed track against Recepta, who ran next in the Grade 1 Frizette and has since gone on to become a stakes winner on grass. Ribbon Cutter switched to turf for her next start and went evenly in a wide trip behind another subsequent stakes winner, Walk Close.
It's possible, of course, that Ribbon Cutter just doesn't have that much ability, and if that's the case, not even getting fast dirt for the first time is going to help much. But she really hasn't had a fair chance yet, and any race where we perceive that the favorites are vulnerable is a race that we want to be involved in.
Race 3: We thought #2 Son of a General ran very well last time. He emerged from that race a very unlucky loser after being forced into a wide run all the way through the turn while the favored winner sat a perfect trip all the way. He landed in a super-tough $25k claimer two starts back, and while he meets some solid competition in this spot as well, his most-accomplished rivals are showing recent signs of wear and tear. #3 Battle Hardened is a bit of a wild card here. We want to see one from him in NY before getting on board. And we are against North Ocean in this spot, win or lose, as he has appeared to be on the downside recently and takes a negative drop off the claim. We are most wary of the #1 entry from David Jacobson, especially the #1A, Joan's Choice, who bled two back but appeared none the worse for wear when galloping over a field at Monmouth 11 days ago.
Race 4: Pace Projector indicates that this race will be run at a fast pace, and to further complicate matters, there are four significant players in the race who are returning from long layoffs. It is one of those layoff runners, #2 Mississippi Duel, whom we like on top in this race. Mississippi Duel projects to land somewhere in behind that fast pace, and his turf form is strong. We will also use #4 Tapitdar in his first start back, as he fits well at this level and has tractable speed. #8 Dan and Sheila is interesting, as he is a closer on the main track who may appreciate landing in a turf race with some pace, and it is worth considering whether Steve Asmussen claimed this horse with grass in mind. We're intrigued, and will use him if he stays in. One other horse to consider is #3 Dreaming of Danny, whom we admit to being leery of given the recent struggles this barn has gone through (Rudy Rodriguez is 1 for his last 39 at Belmont, and has not won a race in the month of June, a run that includes 8 losses with horses that were 2/1 or less at post time).
Race 5: #6 Dan's Gold drops to a more reasonable spot after failing to strongly impact a better group over a sloppy track last time, and he was hooked into a fast duel one start prior to that; drew well on the outside and his best race makes him tough.
#7 Lucci the Lion has been back in top form recently, and emerged an unlucky loser last time after contesting the pace all the way before falling prey to a pair of closers; this is tougher, but not by that much. #4 B Shanny has plenty of races to get to that would make him a handful in here, but he has been gingerly handled by these connections since the claim and continues his descent here. #3 Head Heart Hoof has had trouble getting to his good races recently but would be too much for these should he flash back to early 2013.
Race 6: We like this trainer change for #5 Ocala Jim, and he showed enough on turf last year to deserve a shot, anyway. We are betting him at anything like his ML odds, and making #3 Frogman Mel our other horse. Frogman Mel makes his first start back as a 3yo after displaying some ability last year, and he ran better than it may appear in the turf finale at Laurel after failing to get any position in the race behind a wire-to-wire winner; Rudy's struggles apply here, as well, however. #2 Bold Forest is logical, and he's one we've been chasing since last year, so we won't overlook.
Race 7: #1 William'sluckygray hasn't run on fast dirt since wiring maidens over the inner dirt back in March; has speed, and was badly compromised by a stumble at the break last time. #5 Let Me Be Nuts drops down while making second start off the layoff for an underrated trainer and is one of only two in the field with a prior win over this track and trip. #3 Resolute Babe projects to be on the lead early in here as she drops to the lowest level of her career; has never been beyond 6.5 furlongs.
Race 8: Turf sprint for experienced NY-breds is open to several different horses, so let price be your guide. We thought that both #4 Western Tryst and #6 Leilani's Ticket ran very well when wide and closing behind #2 Mr Rosenthal and #3 Special Selection last time. Leilani's Ticket figures to be the better price. So we'll land there for now.
#5 Bug Juice handles any surface and picks up Castellano after finishing second-best in a minor stakes race at Finger Lakes last month. #9 Ziptronic settled for third behind a couple of strong rivals in his first start back from the layoff and figures tighter for this.
Race 9: Tough to decipher finale in which all ten (in the main body of the race) who have tried turf have run similar figures consistently. We'll put #3 Rose Quartz over #10 Lavender Road, as they both drop in class for the first time, but the former has already been long and the latter drew poorly on the outside for a race over this distance on the inner. #6 Bi Light of Day will face maiden claiming company on turf for the first time, and #4 Race and Shine finished gamely into a strong pace set-up last time.