Sunday, May 29, 2016
TimeformUS Analyst David Aragona
TimeformUS Analysis for Racing at Belmont Park on Monday May 30th
>>Go To TimeformUS Past Performances For These Races
Race 1: On turf, 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. If she breaks better and merely repeats that effort, she will be extremely tough to beat. (If expected rains force this race onto dirt, we believe DREAM ON (#6) will be difficult to catch. She actually ran decently in her turf debut last time and is far from impossible on that surface, but her speed makes her especially dangerous in a paceless dirt race. Ginned Up (#4) and Lulu’s Blues (#7) have run well enough on dirt and also merit consideration.)
Turf Selections: 3 – 6 – 4 – 7
(Dirt Selections: 6 – 4 – 7 – 1A)
Race 2: Golden Gem (#6) has earned the fastest speed figures, but she just has had trouble getting back to the winner’s circle since taking her debut as a two-year-old. In her defense, she was against a track that was favoring inside speed last time and she has been up against slow paces (color-coded in blue) in many recent starts. The trouble is that the Pace Projector is predicting a situation favoring horses on or near the lead again today. Our top selection is the projected leader, ENDURING TOUCH (#7). This filly has actually earned some of the fastest speed figures in the field, pairing up 96s in two of her last four starts, and Michelle Nevin gets an excellent 94 trainer rating first off the claim. We could also use Bold Print (#2), who was awesome when breaking her maiden, but then fell apart at Saratoga next time out. She’s working well for her return and would be pretty formidable if she gets back to her effort two back.
Selections: 7 – 2 – 6 – 5
Race 3: ROYAL POSSE (#4) has put together quite the run, having finished in the exacta in eight straight starts since being claimed by Rudy Rodriguez. Notably, he’s run some of his best races over wet tracks, which is what he is likely to encounter here given the current forecast. It’s been a while since he’s gone as short as a mile, but that’s a negligible knock on a horse that will be a deserving favorite. Weekend Hideaway (#7) has had trouble putting top efforts back to back, which is a concern, but he’s drawn well outside of the other speeds and finished a strong third in this race two years ago, so perhaps the distance is not that much of a concern. If the pace heats up, perhaps Drama King (#5) can come running late for a minor award.
Selections: 4 – 7 – 5 – 1
Race 4: We’re not trying to beat the two favorites in this race. We give slight preference to QUEZON (#5), who overcome a rough start to draw off to a facile victory against a much weaker field last time. She’s been given plenty of time to recover from that race, which is not a concern since she’s run some of her best races when fresh. She loves Belmont and is predicted to get a fast pace to close into. However, she will have to get by Bar of Gold (#1), which should be no easy task. She is dropping out of tougher races and is facing New York-breds for the first time since stepping up into stakes company in her fourth start. Like Quezon, she’s handled wet tracks in the past. The only concern is the rail post position, since she must avoid getting caught up in a speed duel with Perfect Freud and Jules N Rome. If the race starts to fall apart late, look for Storied Lady (#8) to complete the trifecta at a price.
Selections: 5 – 1 – 8 – 4
Race 5: On turf, we’re most interested in J K’S GIRL (#6), who figures to appreciate this surface switch, as a half-sister to multiple turf winner Ave’s Halo. We would also use the likely favorite, Rescue Cat (#2), who drops in class and goes out for the hot George Weaver barn, and Super City (#8), who got some trips last year and might be an overlay as she comes into this race off an eye-catching set of works. (On dirt, we would still include J K’s Girl, whose dirt races are fine, but our top pick would become CHEERING FOR AL (#16), who didn’t do much running in her debut, but was facing a much tougher field and should appreciate this class drop. Rudy Rodriguez gets a 90 trainer rating with these maiden special weight droppers.)
Turf Selections: 6 – 2 – 8 – 12
(Dirt Selections: 16 – 6 – 1 – 2)
Race 6: The two runners likely to take the bulk of the play here are Sudden Surprise (#1) and Championofthenile (#5). Both are coming off wins in which they earned career-best speed figures. However, both also prefer to be racing up on the lead in the early going, which should make for an interesting chess match between John Velazquez and Jose Ortiz down the backstretch. We have slightly more confidence in Sudden Surprise, who you know will be sent from his rail post position. Championofthenile’s connections have flirted with rating tactics in the past and we believe his chances would be compromised if they decided to take him back off the pace again today. While we respect them, we believe a couple of others will offer better value. Our top selection is AWESOME GENT (#9). On a fast track, we believe this is the most talented horse in the race. He was absolutely sensational three races back when he overcame a fast pace and drew off to an impressive win in the Jimmy Winkfield. Most would say that wet tracks were his undoing in his last two starts and reason that he’ll be similarly compromised today. However, we also think that he reacted negatively to kickback in those races. Perhaps he won’t have to deal with that this time as he draws the outside post position. He’s too talented to be a much bigger price than the two aforementioned favorites. We also want to use the deep closer Taoiseach (#3). He’s probably not going to win the race, but he’s always running on at the end and should appreciate turning back in distance. He usually outruns his odds, so don’t leave him off your exacta and trifecta wagers at a big price.
Selections: 9 – 3 – 1 – 5
Race 7: All three of our favorite veterans of the New York-bred turf scene are signed on to renew their rivalries in this Kingston, and, remarkably, they’ve all won this race before (King Kreesa in 2013, Kharafa in 2014, and Lubash last year). The one coming into this race in the best form is King Kreesa (#7), who hardly disgraced himself in Grade 1 company last fall in the Shadwell Turf Mile and returned in fine form when finishing a good fourth in a deep renewal of the Elusive Quality last time out. However, he will likely have to adopt rating tactics today with the speedy Macagone (#1) in the race. He’s rated before and has handled rain-softened turf courses in the past, so he’s probably the horse to beat. The one that we have the most questions about is Lubash (#6), who was uncharacteristically dull in his return at Aqueduct last time. He’s needed a race off layoffs in the past, but he showed absolutely nothing that day. This horse has resurrected his form multiple times in the past, but he’s getting up there in age, so we’re slightly against him pulling off another form reversal today. Our top pick this time is KHARAFA (#2), who may be best-suited of the three to a very soft course. He broke a few lengths slowly in the Elusive Quality last time, which was not noted in the chart comments, but ran on well thereafter. He figures to move forward off that race and he’s always done his best running at Belmont Park. Anything above 5/2 would represent good value on this guy.
Turf Selections: 2 – 7 – 6 – 1
Race 8: The morning line favorite is Bag of Tricks (#1), who has been visually impressive since returning from the layoff this past winter. The 109 speed figure that she earned last time out is the highest number in the field, so she is the horse to beat. That said, there are a few things working against her today. She’s breaking from a difficult post position down towards the rail, given that there’s other speed drawn to her outside. Additionally, John Kimmel does not do well with runners coming off wins (53 trainer rating) or with horses moving up from allowance to stakes company (2 trainer rating). We prefer the Rudy Rodriguez-trained pair of runners. Katniss the Victor (#4) turns back in distance after an easy allowance win back in late March. She proved her quality when finishing a good third in the open Busher Stakes earlier in the winter and should get some pace to close into as she turns back in distance. Frosty Margarita (#5) may have been somewhat compromised by a wide trip last time, but still was a little disappointing as the favorite. However, she usually shows up with a competitive effort, so we can’t count her out. We actually prefer a different horse coming out of that NYS stakes. GREGORIAN GOLD (#3) has run slower speed figures than the aforementioned fillies, but we believe that she’s more talented than it appears. She was good in her debut last summer, nearly holding off Frosty Margarita, prior to easily taking a stakes at Finger Lakes. She probably needed her return in March, and then last time she lost all chance at the start. This is a filly that wants to be placed up close to the pace, and she was squeezed back to last a few strides out of the gate. She then encountered more traffic when attempting to rally between horses in the stretch, and actually finished up decently thereafter. She’s hardly the most likely winner, but she’s going to be a gigantic price, and we don’t think she’s without a chance to pull the upset.
Selections: 3 – 4 – 5 – 1
Race 9: This is a wide-open race and there are many ways to go. We ultimately settled on MAH JONG MADDNES (#5), who got her prep race in last time and should be fitter this time out. She shows a similar pattern last year prior to finishing an excellent second in this race, and we love that Jose Ortiz is getting back aboard. Futhermore, she’s one of a few horses that has routinely run well over rain-softened turf courses. She does her best running over this Belmont course. We could also use The Tea Cups (#7), last year’s Yaddo winner. She appeared to tail off at the end of last year, but she also did not get the best trip in the Ticonderoga, going wide every step of the way. Jeremiah Englehart gets a fantastic 100 trainer rating with horses coming off layoffs of this type. The Pace Projector is predicting a fast pace, which may work against Invading Humor (#4), who does her best work when she’s up near the front. She’s not the most consistent mare, but she’s one of the most talented runners in this race when she’s on her game. Finally, Distorted Beauty (#2) merits consideration off the layoff. She ran well in the Ticonderoga last fall after encountering trouble past midstretch, and we love this one-mile distance. However, we wish the connections had named a more experienced rider.
Turf Selections: 5 – 7 – 2 – 4
Race 10: If this race stays on turf, we’ll focus on FREEDOM SEVEN (#9), who actually ran fine in his lone turf sprint effort last fall. He wanted no part of routing in his second start and has raced exclusively on dirt since then. His last race was encouraging, and Tom Albertrani gets a 79 trainer rating with horses making their second starts off a layoff. We could also use long shot Starago (#12), who is probably not a winning type at 0-for-27 lifetime, but has run plenty of turf race that would make him competitive here. He’s turned his career around on dirt over the winter and may move forward with this surface switch. Vino Blanco (#8) has some of the best turf form in the race, but is unproven at this distance and may need a race off the layoff. (On dirt, we want to take a shot with long shot LUCKY TOWN (#5). This runner is dropping in for a tag for the first time, while getting Lasix. His debut doesn’t look that encouraging at first glance, but consider that he was beaten only seven lengths for third in a very strong maiden race. That 71 speed figure puts him in the mix here. We don’t know what happened last time, but he was vanned off and laid up for a while after that. This apprentice rider has booted home some long shots at this meet. We could also use proven dirt runners like Secret Scholar (#10) and the long Main Track Only entrant Hopper Dropper (#16).)
Turf Selections: 9 – 12 – 8 – 11
(Dirt Selections: 5 – 10 – 16 – 9)