Saturday, June 25, 2016
TimeformUS Analyst David Aragona
TimeformUS Analysis for Racing at Belmont Park on Sunday June 26th
>>Go To TimeformUS Past Performances For These Races
Race 1: The two main players are drawn down towards the inside. We prefer the more lightly raced of the two, OPINED (#2). Kiaran McLaughlin gets a 98 trainer rating with his second-time starters, and this filly figures to take a step forward after having gotten a lot out of her debut. She was forced to deal with kickback and came through between horses. She will have to run a bit faster to take down the favorite, Verve’s Tale (#1). This filly is starting to run out of chances, but she has been improving her speed figures with every start, so we don’t want to be too hard on her. Todd Pletcher does well off layoffs, but we still have trouble trusting Crystal Wave (#5), who makes her dirt debut here. She’s the distant third choice.
Selections: 2 – 1 – 5 – 3
Race 2: CUCKOO’S SALOON (#6) was scratched out of a shorter race yesterday, but finds a more appropriate spot here. He ran well at this level when he made his turf debut at Aqueduct two back and then never had a legitimate chance when dueling with eventual winner Cloontia through fast fractions (color-coded in red) last time. We’re not in love with the horses coming out of the race won by Lotta Gold, but there are a couple that we want to consider. One is second-time starter Dancer’s Edge (#9). This horse appeared to be difficult to maneuver coming to the quarter pole and then was caught in traffic at a few points during the stretch run. He was green that day but has a right to take a step forward here. Port Au Prince (#2) may have been compromised by a poor start and wide trip around the far turn last time.
Selections: 6 – 9 – 2 – 4
Race 3: There’s not that much to say about this one. If SEVENTHFLEETHUMOR (#6) runs back to his first start off the claim for Gary Gullo, he’s supposed to beat this field. He proved that he handles dirt that day and is facing a softer field here despite coming back at the same level. Recanted (#4) and Manofmanyvirtues (#8) are the two others to consider, but both come with major questions. Recanted is unproven at this sprint distance while Manofmanyvirtues is dropping in class but has yet to run a competitive race on dirt.
Selections: 6 – 4 – 8 – 5
Race 4: We’re not trying to beat the likely favorite CLASSY CHRIS (#3), who ran a pretty remarkable race in her debut. She was off about a length slowly and launched a wide, premature move around the far turn in a race that was won on the front end. She actually didn’t disgrace herself on dirt last time, but turf should be her preferred surface. If she breaks better and merely repeats that first effort, she will be extremely tough to beat. The others with racing experience could be up against it trying to beat her. Madison Blues (#4) showed some promise last year, but may prefer longer distances. The wild card is first-time starter Candy for Kisses (#7), who is out of a dam that was a turf horse and is a half-sister to a turf winner. Linda Rice is not known for her work with first-time starters, but this filly may have some potential.
Selections: 3 – 7 – 4 – 2
Race 5: SILENT WATERS (#6) has been a completely different horse since switching to turf. He was awesome two back when he beat a decent field of older allowance horses decisively, earning a competitive 99 speed figure. He then returned to nearly hit the board at 50/1 in the Grade 3 Penn Mile behind the dominant winner Catch a Glimpse. If this horse runs either of those races back here, he is going to win. Beyond him, there is very little turf form in this race. Cloud Control (#1) has yet to actually finish first in a race, but he did run well against next-out winner Cloontia last time, earning the second-highest turf speed figure in the field in the process. The dirt horses running in this race are complete unknowns, since none of them sports much turf pedigree. If we had to guess that one might handle it, we’d lean towards Spooked Out (#7), who is by decent turf sire Catienus.
Selections: 6 – 1 – 7 – 5
Race 6: This is as competitive a six-horse field as you’ll find. Every runner has a legitimate chance to win this race. The two runners that are likely to attract the most play are Thirst for Glory (#2) and Testosterstone (#4), who both exit the same May 7 race. Testosterstone was excellent that day, chasing a quick pace four-wide before pulling away to a clear lead in mid-stretch. He ultimately got nailed late by Extinct Charm, which is no disgrace considering what that one has done in subsequent starts. He was overmatched against open N1X allowance foes last time, but lands back in with his own kind today. Thirst for Glory, on the other hand, hasn’t run since then. He’s run some of the fastest speed figures in the race, but he really needs everything to go his way to come out on top, and we’re not sure he’s going to get enough pace to close into here. We’re going to take a shot with a bigger price in OWNER GENTLEMAN (#5). This three-year-old has been steadily improving over the course of this year. Three back he pulled away from Nobody Move, who has returned to do some nice things, and two back he didn’t handle the turf. Last time, he was in a pretty tough spot, but his trip is worth watching since the chart comment fails to mention that he got sandwiched between horses and squeezed back at the top of the stretch. He has the tactical speed to be placed close to likely speed Lyrical Miracle, and we think he’s most likely to move forward here.
Selections: 5 – 4 – 2 – 3
Race 7: Forever in Love (#4) burst onto the scene last year, winning his debut at Saratoga by over 8 lengths with a strong 94 speed figure. He was overmatched against tougher open company foes in the Pilgrim last fall and then just did not handle the dirt in his juvenile finale. Linda Rice’s horses sometimes need a start coming off lengthy layoffs (she gets a 73 trainer rating with this move) and we wonder if seven furlongs is really the right distance. At a short price, we prefer some others. Our top pick is STORM PROPHET (#10), who also showed promised at two. However, he has the benefit of a race under his belt, in which he was badly compromised by a slow pace (color-coded in blue) at this distance. Storm Prophet figures to step forward today, and we believe he’s the horse to beat. At a bigger price, we could also use first-time turfer The J Y (#3), who is out of a turf-winning dam and is a half-brother to two turf winners. Mark Hennig gets a 93 trainer rating with horses that broke their maidens last time out.
Selections: 10 – 3 – 4 – 8
Race 8: The Pace Projector is predicting a situation that favors horses on near the lead, which is supposed to benefit the four-year-old Portando (#1), who ships in from Kentucky. This horse did show a ton of promise at Oaklawn Park, earning a field-best 117 speed figure when second to the talented Ray’swarrior in April. However, while the speed figures haven’t tailed off that much, we feel he’s coming out of a slightly weaker race. He also could receive some early pressure from Mawthooq (#4), who got an unusually aggressive ride from Irad Ortiz last time. He ran extremely well that day, but Kiaran McLaughlin does well with horses off lengthy layoffs like that, so we’re not sure how much improvement we can expect. We’re not sure the pace will be in his favor, but we ultimately could not go against SWIPE (#2), who finally gets some class relief. Keith Desormeaux does not have good numbers with horses coming off lengthy layoffs, so he was really up against it in the Lexington last time. This horse was fast enough to win at sprint distances as a two-year-old and we think he’ll be tough to hold off on the turnback.
Selections: 2 – 4 – 1 – 3
Race 9: We’re faced with a dichotomy here. On one hand, you have the horses with proven turf form that are unproven against stakes company, and on the other, you have the proven stakes performers that have never tried grass. While we’re generally against horses in the latter category, we do want to give a shot to Libreta (#1), who is out of a dam that is a full-sister to Grade 1-winning turf mare Better Lucky. If she transfers her dirt form to turf, she’s going to win this race. However, the value may not be there, which is what led us in a different direction. Our top pick is AMETRINE (#7), who only comes off a maiden win, but has shown plenty of promise in her first couple of starts. She ran very well in her debut, overcoming a four-wide trip and a slow pace (color-coded in blue) to finish second to the still-undefeated Ancient Secret. She rallied well to get up for the victory last time and should move forward off that effort for David Donk, who is having a terrific meet. At a very big price, we also want to consider Louisville First (#10). This filly has turf pedigree and she ran to it last time, putting in her best effort today while earning a strong 96 speed figure behind the exceptionally fast Animal Appeal. Seven furlongs may be a stretch, but she has talent.
Selections: 7 – 1 – 10 – 5
Race 10: It’s hard to get past the two favorites in the finale. BASS RIVER ROAD (#8) makes his first start off the claim for Bruce Levine, who does well with his new acquisitions. The immediate drop in class is a concern, but Levine does get an 85 trainer rating with runners dropping in claiming price by 50% or more. We also have to use the other logical player, Storm Pursuit (#5), who just fits very well at this level and has been fairly consistent in his dirt races since last fall. The Pace Projector is predicting a situation that favors the frontrunners, which should help his cause. Hannibal Lecter (#3) may be moving in the right direction after returning from a layoff and has an outside chance at a price.
Selections: 8 – 5 – 3 – 7