Friday, September 26, 2014
TimeformUS Analyst Mike Beer
TimeformUS Analysis for the Biggest Day on the Fall Racing Calendar in New York
It's Super Saturday at Belmont Park
Want even deeper analysis of the Grade 1 Stakes on this card? Click here to go to the TimeformUS Race Preview Page where we'll break it down even more.
Race 1: #2B Zennor created quite a buzz when debuting in the blue Godolphin silks at Saratoga, and he actually ran quite well that day despite being defeated at a short price. He was hung up four-wide all the way while trying to contest the pace, and he tired only late to fall out of contention. Figures to have benefited greatly from the experience for a trainer who gets a 99 rating with second-time starters, and he drew a nice post on the outside. #6 King Rontos has had some tough luck landing in races at Saratoga vs. the likes of Competitive Edge and El Kabeir, but things may not get any easier for him today in what appears to be a loaded race. There are several interesting first-time starters entered, including Pletcher's #1 Savoy Stomp. He brought $875k as a yearling, and is from the family of the multiple Grade 1 sprinter Dream Supreme. #7 Midhmaar is by superstar stallion Tapit, and his dam Take D' Tour was a multiple Grade 1 winner in her career. Trainer isn't as potent with his first-time starters on dirt (74 rating) as he is on turf.
Race 2: #3 All My Memories disappointed last time in a race that was full of puzzling performances like his. We will take the counterintuitive approach to that race and forget about the poor performances, while downgrading the good ones. Like this distance for him, and he's competitive with his good race. #5 Noble Cornerstone may be the one to beat as he drops out of the Grade 1 King's Bishop, where he was never going to be competitive. Has re-found his best form since getting cut back in distance by this trainer. #2 John's Island ran down Noble Cornerstone over this trip back in May, and he was against an inside-and speed-favoring track last time. #6 Chapman was with that track when just missing ahead of John's Island there, but he projects to be the main speed in this race. #8 Round has the upside, and he has flashed ability in his two career starts, but he has missed some time since his maiden win, and he did not make the work tab at all in August.
Race 3: The experienced runners come mostly from one direction in this spot, that being the 1st race from August 30th at Saratoga, and an eventful 8.5 furlongs that was. #7 Congrats to Ken and #6 Gustnado had the best placings in there, but they also had two of the better trips in the race. #2 Epsilon took money and was buried in traffic with nowhere to run late, while #5 Vespers At Eight took no money, and raced greenly early before getting hemmed in and trying to bump his way clear in the stretch.
The other experienced runner is #3 King of New York, and he has run well twice while settling for 2nd best both times.
Race 4: Grade 2 Kelso goes straight through recent Grade 1 Woodward winner #7 Itsmyluckyday, who figures a short-priced favorite. He has been perfectly handled since returning from serious injury this year, and he has rewarded his connections with a series of top-flight performances this summer. Most likely upsetter may be #2 Golden Ticket, who is at his best in these one-turn miles. He has run fast enough in the past to give the favorite a scare. #4 River Rocks has talent, but he's been lucky to get loose on the lead in pair of recent big figure wins, and this is his toughest test to date by a wide margin.
Race 5: Grade 1 Beldame lacks a true standout, which casts the multiple Grade 1 winning 3yo #3 Stopchargingmaria in the role of favorite. She's good and she has the credentials to be favored in this field, but she's not very fast, and she is far from the scariest favorite we've ever seen. We'll go against her with #2 Toasting, who admittedly is pushing it over this 9-furlong trip. She has been in good form, and she ran a big race over this distance at the end of last year. We have never been particular fans of #5 Fiftyshadesofhay, but she fits in a race like this one and is a must-use for us.
Race 6: #12 Upgrade is something of a 7-furlong specialist, winning 4 of his last 7 over this distance, whether on turf or synthetic, and missing by a nose in one of the losses. Racing at the level where he fits at this stage of the game. #3 Compliance Officer also figures to appreciate this cut-back in distance, and he gets some much needed class relief, as well, after banging heads with the top NY-bred turf horses in training over the past few years. #9 Night Officer was unlucky when blowing the break vs. a few of these last time, and he can factor with a clean trip. #6 Ragtime is interesting switching to grass for the first time with some pedigree (dam is a half to Grade 1 turf horse Dancing Forever), and he will turn back in distance as well.
Race 7: Excellent running of the Grade 1 Flower Bowl kicks off all Grade 1 Pick 4. We're siding with the runners exiting the Grade 2 Ballston Spa last month at Saratoga. #4 Strathnaver seems to be a mare who needs firm ground to be at her best, but she's been back in top form this cycle and doesn't figure to struggle with the distance based on first two starts in this country, both convincing wins going longer. #1 Abaco outfinished Strathnaver to notch well-deserved Grade 2 win in the Ballston Spa. Has run big in each of her last two starts and would be a deserving Grade 1 winner. #9 Stephanie's Kitten may be the horse to beat in this spot off her strong 2nd in the Beverly D. Has now come running too late in each of her last three starts.
Speed-laden Vosburgh goes through dual Grade 1 winner #1 Palace. He has been in terrific form since returning from a layoff in early June, and he projects for a nice trip away from a fast pace. #2 Coup de Grace is a 3yo facing elders, but he's a closing sprinter who projects for a perfect set-up in this spot after enduring a tough trip in the King's Bishop. He appears to be a very difficult horse to ride, so we'll take it as a positive that Kerwin Clark is scheduled to come in for the mount. #4 Salutos Amigos has begun to deliver on early promise since switching to this barn, and he exits a dead-game try chasing a loose-on-the-lead River Rocks without relenting last time.
Race 9: #5 Main Sequence has impressed in pair of narrow yet impressive wins since arriving stateside for a top trainer. Has had the benefit of solid paces in both, which is not the expected scenario here, but he's the horse to beat. Chad Brown sends a strong coupling of #1 Big Blue Kitten and #1A Real Solution. We prefer the former, who has returned in fine form this summer and gets this distance effectively. #3 Imagining projects for a more comfortable trip this time after being pushed along on a solid pace when run down by Main Sequence in the Sword Dancer. He may be a little better off going shorter, but he's dangerous in here if able to relax early.
Race 10: Fun edition of the Grade 1 $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup drew a field of 12. With enough speed signed on to ensure that horse to beat #11 Moreno is kept honest, we'll try to get #4 Zivo to repeat his fast-closing win over that rival in the Suburban over this track and trip back in July. Zivo has been in terrific form for Chad Brown, and his 114 Late Pace rating clearly tops the field.
3yos #3 Wicked Strong, #8 Tonalist and #10 V. E. Day are all players in here, and while we are against the latter, we will be using the other two.
Race 11: #3 Innovation Economy faces tough distance stretch-out in second start back as a 3yo, but he has the pedigree to handle it (100 Breeding Rating), being from the family of distance-loving turf millionaires Dynaforce and Cetewayo. He was impressive when flying home as an overlooked runner in his debut, and was up against a tough pace scenario in his first start back. #8 Trecastle has been OK on turf from the start and has a one-paced style that is suited to these longer races. Horse to beat is the classy old #4 Grand Rapport. He has been back in solid form on turf this year and has really taken to distance racing lately.