Friday, June 03, 2016
TimeformUS Analyst David Aragona
TimeformUS Analysis for Racing at Belmont Park on Saturday June 4th
>>Go To TimeformUS Past Performances For These Races
Race 1: In a race where we find it difficult to completely trust anyone, we'll take a stand against the likely favorite, Marble Falls (#6). This horse's best efforts can win this race, but it’s a fair question what we can expect as he continues to drop in class while disappointing at short prices. Overcontrol (#7) has finally started putting decent races together, but he beat a decidedly weaker group last time. Almost by default, we've landed on PARK RANGER (#8) as our top selection. His effort two back would almost certainly win this race, and his surrounding efforts are good enough to make him the horse to beat in our eyes. Seventhfleethumor (#4) may be worth considering at a price, but we fear that six furlongs may be too short for him.
Selections: 8 – 6 – 7 – 4
Race 2: Our top pick is FIRST CHARMER (#5), who should move forward in her second start off the layoff while catching a softer field than the one she faced last time. Additionally, she did not get the best of trips last time. After getting steadied sharply down the backstretch, losing a few lengths of position in the process, Junior Alvarado never really got into her in the stretch, apparently giving up despite the fact that she had a bit of run. She should be placed closer to the pace this time and seven furlongs may be more to her liking. The other runner that we want to use at a bigger price is Hush Now (#8). She ran pretty well on turf as a maiden, and while her last race looks disappointing at first glance, keep in mind that it was her first start back from a layoff and she was involved in a very fast pace (color-coded in red). She is projected to be the primary speed in a situation favoring the frontrunner, and she could be tough to catch if Luis Saez is able to get her to settle a bit better. Finally, we also want to consider Eloweasel (#3), who showed promise as a two-year-old but may need a race off the bench.
Selections: 5 – 8 – 3 – 7
Race 3: Looking purely at speed figures, Achnaha (#8) cannot possibly lose this race. She's consistently run 15-20 points faster than her competitors while doing so in graded stakes races. The problem is that she just never wins, and she feels like the type of horse that just runs to her competition. For a long time she was stuck at this N1X level, often grabbing a piece, but never really threatening for the top spot. Her connections stepped her up into stakes company and she continued to do the exact same thing. For that reason, we prefer one of the up-and-comers, GALILEO'S SONG (#9), who was visually impressive when breaking her maiden last time. Her tactical speed should allow her to get the jump on Achnaha and she is bred to relish the stretch-out in distance. Blame It On Me (#1) also has the potential to take a step forward, but it’s asking a lot of this filly to handle the added ground and huge step up in class in just her second start.
Selections: 9 – 8 – 1 – 6
Race 4: We view Mordi's Miracle (#5) as the most likely winner, but he's probably going to go off at a fairly short price off his commanding last-out victory. While Chris Englehart does have excellent numbers second off the claim (100 trainer rating), most of the horses that contributed to that figure did not win in their first starts off the claim, so we wonder if we can actually expect improvement from this runner. We have less confidence in the other likely favorite, Tairneach (#7), who drops in class while returning from a lengthy layoff. Even if he gets back to his typical efforts, he's not a cinch in this race given the unfavorable pace scenario. There is a serious lack of early speed, which has led us to our top pick, ATTRACTIVE RIDE (#3). Maybe he's not the horse he once was, even going back to last fall, but the Pace Projector indicates that he'll have circumstances in his favor today. If he can muster a halfway decent performance now at age 10, he could be difficult to catch, and the price will surely be generous.
Selections: 3 – 5 – 2 – 7
Race 5: If he draws in off the also-eligible list, we would be most interested in HEAVENLY SUN (#11), whose campaign was cut short last summer after two awful trips over the Saratoga turf course. He was basically eliminated at the start twice in a row through no fault of his own. This horse had run competitive speed figures last spring at Belmont, including his best performance ever off a lengthy layoff. It's not an ideal post position, but we think he would have a shot to pull off the upset. If he doesn't play, we would instead land on Port Au Prince (#3), who has faced tougher maiden special weight competition in both of his turf starts, including his most recent turf outing last summer at Saratoga, when he did not receive a great trip. We could also use Bapu (#8), whose turf efforts from last summer would make him competitive here, and Brudda Colton (#9), who ran well enough in his grass debut before getting an awful trip in his second start over that surface.
Selections: 11 – 3 – 8 – 9 – 10
Race 6: The morning line favorite is Spearhead (#1), but last time was the time to have him when he almost got the job done in an easier spot. Today, he is likely to face some pace pressure and must stretch out to seven furlongs. We actually prefer the other speed horse, TASHREEH (#7), who is our top pick. This horse tried the turf only once, and disappointed at a relatively short price. However, that race does not look quite as bad when you consider the context. He didn't get the greatest trip, racing wide most of the way around two turns, and he may just want no part of route distances. This is a sprinter through and through, and he probably deserves another shot going one turn on the turf. After all, he has grass pedigree coming out his ears on the dam's side. We could also use Defining Product (#4) at what should be a decent price. This horse rarely wins, but he's run some of his best races going seven furlongs over the Belmont Park turf course. Saratoga Heater (#8) actually may have run better than Spearhead in the same race last time, but he could be up against it from a pace standpoint again today.
Selections: 7 – 4 – 8 – 1
Race 7: We could make decent cases for at least half of the runners in this race, so the goal instead becomes to find the best value. Horses like Investigator and Jet Black can certainly win this race, but they're coming off improved performances in route races and we feel that they could be underlays. There are a few interesting horses exiting the same race on May 14. Brooklyn Major (#10) finished ahead of his competitors and actually might have won the race if his rider had been a bit more aggressive out of the gate. However, we believe a couple of others have more room for improvement today. One of those is D'Eloquent (#13), who was off slowly, but got a very good trip thereafter. He figures to show more speed for Michael Dilger, who gets an 87 trainer rating with second-time starters. We could use him, but the horse we want most out of that heat, and our top pick, is KENYAN (#7). This horse was a little sluggish early and couldn't keep pace with Brooklyn Major when that one went by him on the turn, but he stayed on well through the stretch while racing in tight quarters on the rail before galloping out strongly. He likely got plenty out of that race and Mike Hushion gets a superb 100 trainer rating with second-time starters. The other horse we want to focus on is Arthur Avenue (#2), who took a ton of money in his debut, but could not overcome a traffic-filled trip from the difficult rail post position. Michelle Nevin does much better with her second-time starters, and we're sure we have not yet seen the best of this one. Even first-time starter Cold Revenge (#9), a half-brother to I Want Revenge, is in with a chance.
Selections: 7 – 2 – 9 – 13 – 10
Race 8: Our pick to win the Pennine Ridge is HIGHLAND SKY (#5), but it's not because we think he's going to offer inordinate value in the win pool. This horse is probably going to go off at closer to co-favorite with Camelot Kitten rather than at his 8/1 morning line. That said, we're picking this horse because he has turned into a beast. Normal horses cannot overcome the trip that he worked out in the Woodhaven Stakes, in which Luis Saez was forced to start his move at the half-mile pole and go wide around the far turn turn, before still running down the leaders. This distance does not figure to pose an issue, and the move to a Belmont turf course that is more conducive to his running style should only work in his favor. The other major players are all coming out of the American Turf at Churchill Downs. Victor Camelot Kitten (#2) is Highland Sky's main rival, but he worked out an absolutely perfect trip to pull off the upset that day. We slightly prefer Dressed in Hermes (#6), who had to race wide very step of the way after hopping at the start. He's better than that and could go off at an inflated price here.
Selections: 5 – 6 – 2 – 9
Race 9: We're against morning line favorite Ground Control (#3), who got away with setting moderate fractions last time while beating a significantly weaker field. The horse to beat is Storm Pursuit (#1A), who defeated a few of these runners in his last dirt race. He's projected to be the fastest early, and they should be hard-pressed to catch him again. However, we will take a small shot against him with BECAUSE I'M HAPPY (#8), who has kept tougher company in recent starts. He's not the most consistent sort, but he does have races in him that would beat this field, and the price should be fair.
Selections: 8 – 1A – 9 – 6 – 3
Race 10: If Aripeka (#1) brings his best effort, none of these will beat him, but we're not totally convinced that he's the same horse we saw last year, especially since his most recent start might not be the best indication of his current form given the unusual rainy conditions during that race. The runner that we think will offer the best value is DREAM MAN (#6), a deep closer whose last race is not nearly as bad as it looks. The Aqueduct turf course is not the best configuration for a deep closer and Dream Man was never totally clear in the stretch. Belmont will be a better fit for his typical wide, sweeping late run.
Selections: 6 – 1 – 12 – 10