Friday, April 29, 2016
TimeformUS Analyst David Aragona
TimeformUS Analysis for Racing at Belmont Park on Saturday April 30
>>Go To TimeformUS Past Performances For These Races
Race 1: While we believe that the three-year-old Secure Access (#5) may eventually turn out to be the best runner in this group, we're inclined to tread lightly in her first start back off the layoff. Shug McGaughey has only put a very modest series of breezes into her and his numbers with runners coming off maiden wins are not the strongest. Our lukewarm top selection is DEA (#3), who has simply been facing slightly tougher fields at Gulfstream and Keeneland and should stack up very well against this group. We prefer her to the entry of Southern Gem (#1) and Rock Me Again (#1A). Rock Me Again appears to be the stronger half, but we feel that she was the beneficiary of some favorable circumstances in her two best efforts last season (a gold rail at Saratoga on September 7 and slow pace at Aqueduct on November 5).
Selections: 3 – 5 – 1/1A – 2
Race 2: Nevada Kid (#1A) is likely to go off at a relatively short price, especially if both halves of the entry participate. He will probably win if he repeats his last race, but we're a little skeptical considering the circumstances. The surface on April 7 became very speed favoring once it had taken a substantial amount of rain and we feel that Nevada Kid benefitted from the track profile. His entrymate, Bad Hombre (#1) is far from impossible himself, but he's seen better days. We have to use the entry to get through this leg of the Pick-5, but we believe that others will offer better value. Our top selection is ALEANDER (#8). We've never been this horse's biggest fan, but the fact remains that he's coming into this race in very good form and does not have to improve much at all on his recent efforts to come out on top. He did well to get back up into the race after a tardy start last time and he should be forwardly placed again with this outside draw.
Selections: 8 – 1/1A – 3 – 7
Race 3: Sweet Corinna (#9) is likely to go favored here, but we're not convinced that this turnback in distance will benefit her as much as it will others in this race. While she did finish ahead of DOUKAS (#5) last time out, that filly was very rank through the early stages as she tried to do more than Irad Ortiz desired. Irad let her roll away from the field around the far turn and into the stretch, but she ended up tiring in the late stages. We've always felt that Doukas might like a slight turnback in distance and she did arguably run the best race of her life around one turn at Belmont. She's our top pick, but they all will have to catch Undertherain (#3), who should not be ignored. This Phil Serpe trainee ran slightly better than it might appear in a few of those Florida starts and this seven furlong distance is perfect for her. She's slightly unpredictable, but she's talented enough to win this race.
Selections: 5 – 3 – 9 – 7
Race 4: This race goes through the enigmatic SUPER ALLISON (#5). She's hardly the type of runner that we want to trust at a short price, but we also cannot find a suitable alternative to her in this spot. In terms of raw ability, Super Allison is leaps and bounds ahead of this field. If she finally is able to break cleanly and come with her usual closing kick, we could be in for a special performance, because this filly does possess stakes-quality talent. However, she's been her own worst enemy in every one of her starts, greenly shying away from other horses and refusing to leave the starting gate. It's obvious that Carlos Martin has worked with her at the gate, since her last two breezes--both quite fast--have come out of the starting gate. As for the others, Picco Uno (#6) has a right to do better in her second start after racing two- to three-wide against the Gotham Day gold rail last time. First-time starters Cheering for Al (#2) and Eighth Commandment (#7) will also be on our backup tickets.
Selections: 5 – 6 – 2 – 7
Race 5: There are question marks attached to nearly every contender in this race. Wicked Freud (#6) is probably the horse to beat, but he must deal with a lengthy layoff. His trainer, James Ryerson, only gets a 53 trainer rating with horses returning from breaks of this length. Many will likely gravitate towards the new face, Gran the Man (#2), who has been on a steady diet of five-furlong races down in Florida. He showed subtle improvement in his first start off the claim by Jason Servis, but the waters get a little deeper here as he steps up in class and invades New York. That said, the Pace Projector is predicting a situation favoring horses on or near the lead, so we cannot leave him out. Given this state of affairs, we're going to take a shot with first-time turfer UNSTOPPABLE (#8). While this horse does not have a ton of obvious turf pedigree, there is evidence that suggests he could really move up with this surface switch. His dam raced primarily on dirt, but she did run one of her best career races on the grass. There's plenty of turf pedigree in the second generation. Most notably, one of the half-sisters to Unstoppable's dam foaled two-time Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint champion Mizdirection, who is also by Unstoppable's sire, Mizzen Mast. Mike Hushion wastes no time getting this horse on turf and we believe we could see improvement today.
Selections: 8 – 6 – 2 – 7
Race 6: Vandalize (#1) is a deserving favorite on the morning line off the strength of his debut effort, in which he finished within two lengths of the talented Lieutenant Colonel. The trouble is that the race occurred over a year ago. While it’s not exactly a positive sign that this horse is now entered for a tag, Todd Pletcher does do very well with runners coming off layoffs of this length. Porch Pounder (#2) is also likely to attract support, but we feel that he’s actually stepping up into a tougher spot despite the fact that he’s running for a tag for the first time. We instead prefer a different runner that’s dropping out of maiden special weight races. HELIODORO (#11) was no match for a runaway winner last time, but he may have needed the race. He had previously run competitive speed figures against tougher competition last year, culminating with a very unlucky trip on June 27, when he was blocked for nearly the entire stretch drive. Nick Zito gets a 72 trainer rating with horses dropping from maiden special weight to maiden claiming company, which is a fairly strong move for him.
Selections: 11 – 1 – 2 – 9
Race 7: There's no denying that Bellamy Way (#2) has run the fastest speed figures. While he undoubtedly moved up on the inner track over the winter, it's not as if he was totally disgraced last time when cutting back to one turn on the main oval and losing to Sioux, who put in a spectacular effort in victory. That said, he's probably going to be a short price again today and we think there's at least one other very talented runner in this race. Based on speed figures, RALLY CRY (#4) is not quite fast enough to win this race. However, he has had major excuses in each of his last two starts and we feel that he's in better form than it appears. Two back he was pushed into the rail on the far turn, causing him to get shuffled to the back of the pack. Then last time, in the Gotham, he was racing two- to three-wide the entire way while horses that rode the gold rail dominated the race. He has tactical speed, so he should work out a good trip stalking the speedy Groupthink (#1).
Selections: 4 – 2 – 6 – 1
Race 8: This field drew an intriguing mix of proven turf sprinters and turning-back milers. The runner that is likely to go favored is Green Mask (#5), whose main claims to fame are a pair of third place finishes against Group/Grade 1 company in the 2015 Al Quoz Sprint and Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint. While we have the utmost respect for this horse's talent and are not deterred by this stretch-out to seven furlongs, we do question the layoff. Wesley Ward does not have the strongest numbers with horses coming off long breaks and Green Mask has needed a race to get completely fit in the past. Mosler (#1) won this race last year, but did so while working out an absolutely perfect trip. Another favorable voyage could be on tap here as he's drawn the rail, but he's somewhat inconsistent and may have to run even better than last year to get the best of what seems like a stronger group. Aztec Brave (#12) has spent the majority of the past year focusing on longer races, but he has sprinted successfully in the past. He was in great form when last seen, earning an excellent 123 speed figure when splitting subsequent stakes winners Reporting Star and Macagone at Gulfstream. We'll certainly use him, but our top pick is A LOT (#3), who makes his first start for Chad Brown. We've always felt that this horse was best going a mile or less around one turn. He's run some of his best races over this Belmont Park turf course and this seven-furlong distance should suit him perfectly.
Selections: 3 – 12 – 5 – 1 – 9
Race 9: We're not enamored with the four-year-olds shipping up from Gulfstream, Gee Pea Ess and Mr. Neetie, who were facing fields of questionable quality and figure to take plenty of action here. Our top selection is CONQUEST SEE YA (#3), who makes his turf debut following a decent first start over Woodbine's synthetic surface. Mark Casse, who gets just a 68 trainer rating with debut runners, gets a 98 rating with second-time starters. This runner sold for a lot of money as a two-year-old and we doubt we've seen the best of him yet. The other two horses that we're most interested in using are first-time starters Wyeth (#1), who goes out of the ever-dangerous Chad Brown barn, and Naqafeer (#9), who has tons of high-class turf pedigree on his dam's side.
Selections: 3 – 9 – 1 – 8