Belmont September 27

It’s the big Saturday at Belmont. Lots of races and lots of opportunities.

Race 1

  • 2/2b Tradesman/Zennor – Albertrani lately has been bringing his charges ready to race first out. Zennor has one sneaky good race and went off as the favorite in that one. McLaughlin much better second time out.
  • 7 Midhmaar – has been working well for Chad Brown. Tapit progeny tend toward the precocious.
  • 3 Easy Comparison – has had two chances to break his maiden. Last race was his best. Pace was slow early and he couldn’t keep up with the fast finish but experience counts.
  • 10 Moon Over Cuzco – the other Brown trainee has been working just as well and is listed 12-1 on the ML. Not often a Brown trainee goes off double digits.

Race 2

  • 5 Noble Cornerstone – Looked very good in state bred races, but was never a danger in the Kings Bishop. Certainly fast enough to win this race.
  • 6 Chapman – Englehart trainee came off a three month layoff and just missed after having trouble at the start. Should be prompting the early pace.
  • 8 Round – Broke his maiden at BEL in June after giving Wicked Strong a run in his first start on a sloppy BEL track. Improving each out and Mott should have him wound up today.
  • 2 John’s Island – Useful NY bred might be a little over his head today but James Jerkens has been dangerous with everything he starts. Last out he was bothered at the start  and was forced wide around the turn.

Race 3

  • 5 Vespers At Eight – trouble at the start last out but finished with good energy. Better break should put him in the mix.
  • 6 Gustnado – ran wide in the same race as the 5 and 7, took the lead in the stretch and couldn’t hang on. Could be the pacesetter and may have an easier time getting a good spot.
  • 7 Congrats to Ken – Just missed last out. Weaver/Velasquez winning about a quarter of their starts. Two good maintenance works to keep him on edge.
  • 3 King of New York – two starts, two seconds but both wide races. Has some early lick and may run a much more efficient race.

Race 4     Kelso Grade 2

  • 1 Capo Bastone – one of the also rans in two graded stakes at SAR, although he closed well from dead last to finish within five lengths. Last graded win came over a year ago and has never won at this distance. Hard to like here.
  • 2 Golden Ticket – won his last at this distance, and has never finished worse that second at a mile. Can’t be completely discounted but probably not the highest probability win horse.
  • 3 Vyjack – Seems more adept at the sprint distances – his one win his year came at 7F. Would be a surprise from my perspective.
  • 4 River Rocks – speedy runner has been dominating cheaper. Hasn’t been the mile distance but does have a second at the mile and a 16th. Likes to win and has some outstanding figures. It looks like any horse that wants to win will have to run by him in the stretch.
  • 5 Bradester – His last six starts have been graded stakes and he has two wins, two places. Does well at the mile distance. Very consistent figures in his last three. He no worse than second best in this spot.
  • 6 Scarly Charly – five year old just broke his maiden in March and came back two races later to win his NW1X. Seems up against it in this field and until he shows he’s graded material I’ll pass.
  • 7 Itsmyluckyday – classy four year old has speed and staying power. Best figures in the group. Will be a low price, but it doesn’t look like there is a better horse in here.

Race 5     Beldame Invitational   Grade 1

  • 1 Endless Chatter – is a quality animal but is not a Grade 1 horse. May be part of the early pace.
  • 2 Toasting – Plenty of graded stakes in her pp’s, but no wins. Did win the overnight Sky Beauty at Belmont three weeks ago, but would be a surprise if she was in front at the wire today.
  • 3 Stopchargingmaria – Nothing but graded races for this Pletcher trainee, but hasn’t gone against older yet. Ducked the top 3 year old filly Untapable, passing the Cotillion for this spot. Pletcher is being very strategic with the horse as they get ready for the Breeder’s Cup. Her figures are competitive but not dominant. The lukewarm favorite in my mind.
  • 4 Stanwyk – Two muddy tracks at SAR and that probably kept us from seeing the best of her. Has a graded win at BEL and hasn’t run a bad race this year. Will give the 3 all she can handle.
  • 5 Fiftyshadesofhay – Baffert runner is another getting ready for the BC. Has been a shade or fifty below the best graded fillies. One win on the BEL surface. Unlikely to win but should be in the mix in the stretch.
  • 6 Oasis at Midnight – doesn’t look good enough to have a say here.
  • 7  Belle Gallantey – Did win a Grade 1 at DEL but was pounded in the Personal Ensign. Competitive figures, but seems a cut below the 3 and 4.

Race 6

  • 11 Tetradrachm – Mott trainee has the best last race figure, plenty of speed and takes the blinkers off today.
  • 2 Escapist – broke his maiden at GP and immediately followed that up with a NW1X at BEL. Good speed and should appreciate the return to BEL.
  • 3 Compliance Officer – hard knocking eight year old had excuses in his last two but before that looked good at BEL. Will need a deft ride to run by them all here.
  • 4 Great Attack – claimed last out by Jacobson and he is just lights out first off the claim.
  • 1 Shock Leader – has better races at a mile and perhaps cutting back from longer routes will bring out the best in him.

Race 7     Flower Bowl    Grade 1

  • 1 Abaco – winner of the Ballston Spa at the SAR meet and finished a length behind Stephanie’s Kitten in the slow paced Diana. Never seems to run a bad one. In the money choice.
  • 2 Maximova – Not a grade 1 horse.
  • 3 Viva Rafaela – has every opportunity to set comfortable fractions and hold off the closers. Pletcher is always super dangerous in Graded stakes. Have to play her on top at the odds.
  • 4 Strathnaver – Another that is always competitive. Wouldn’t be an enormous surpise, but looks fourth best to me.
  • 5 Starstruck – Won the Grade 3 Matchmaker at MTH, but obviously likes that surface. A minor award at best.
  • 6 Whatsdachances – another of the runners that seems to be on the edge of Grade 1. More like to be in the money than a winner.
  • 7 Alterite – has really not shown her potential this year. Two 2014 races were discouraging, compared to 2013 when she was a length behind at the wire in the BC F&M Turf. Unless Brown did something to turn her around, it doesn’t look like she is in condition to win.
  • 8 Tannery – did have a second earlier this year at BEL but her last two Grade 1 runs have not been inspiring. Not likely.
  • 9 Stephanie’s Kitten – will inevitably be flying at the end and it is just a question of what fractions she has to run at. Shouldn’t be worse than second.

Race 8     Vosburgh Invitational    Grade 1

  • 1 Palace – Perhaps the best sprinter on the east coast. Three wins in five starts at BEL. Should be the favorite and looks like the winner.
  • 2 Coup de Grace – has not yet faced older but has been strong against three year olds. I’m looking elsewhere.
  • 3 Zee Bros – Plenty of speed but doesn’t look like he can hold off the pressers and closers.
  • 4 Salutos Amigos – not a grade 1 horse
  • 5 Dads Caps – ran well in the slop at SAR but looks up against it here. In the money at best
  • 6 Happy My Way – speed, speed and speed for this gelding. Probably the best of the front runners but may be compromised by the cheaper speed. Place/show prospect for me.
  • 7 Private Zone – First out of 2014 was a troubled sprint on the turf at Parx. Won this race last year so can’t be discounted. Should be wound up to run today. Place/show prospect for me.
  • 8 Ribo Bibo – a nice horse but not a Grade 1 runner

Race 9     Hirsch Classic    Grade 1

  • 2 Twilight Eclipse – has been beaten by Main Sequence in his last two, no reason to expect a different result today. Likes the BEL turf and at his best can be competitive with these.
  • 3 Imagining – Just missed in the Sword Dancer and won the Man O’War in the spring at BEL. Looks second best to me.
  • 4 Hangover Kid – has the win in the Bowling Green in his favor, and is three of six at BEL. Big odds, but certainly can’t be thrown out completely.
  • 1 Big Blue Kitten – Starting to regain 2013 form. You can never discount a horse that has won half its starts. I think he has to be used.
  • 1a Real Solution – Did not disgrace himself in the Arlington Million. Makes the entry super tough.
  • 5 Main Sequence – Group placed in Europe and two for two here in the U.S. Both his wins were highly impressive. Lasix seemed to be exactly what this horse needed. On his best he is the winner.
  • 6 Medal Count – Has been running in graded events this year with moderate success. Hasn’t faced older yet. A first and a second on the turf. Definitely the X factor here. Improving three year olds are always dangerous. While he doesn’t look like the winner on paper, if he is first at the wire don’t be surprised.

Race 10     Jockey Club Gold Cup     Grade 1

  • 1 Micromanage – Not having a bad 2014, but looks a step or two below the best in here.
  • 2 Last Gunfighter – has not looked like a grade 1 horse this year. Chad Brown is always dangerous, but I think you have to look elsewhere.
  • 3 Wicked Strong – Ran well enough to win the Travers and is just one of the strong three year old crop going to the BC Classic. Perhaps not the top choice, but definitely one of the horses to beat.
  • 4 Zivo – Looked strong in the middle of the year, but didn’t run particularly well in the Woodward. Not in my top three.
  • 5 Prayer for Relief – 0 for 8 this year. Not likely in this field.
  • 6 Long River – has not had a bang-up four year old season. Not a contender.
  • 7 Speak Logistics – Unlikeliest of them all
  • 8 Tonalist – This colt has done nothing wrong this year. Although he hasn’t faced older, has plenty of talent and has to be put in the top three.
  • 9 Stephanoatsee – Another that simply doesn’t look good enough to crack the board.
  • 10 V.E. Day – Surprise winner of the Travers is simply at the top of his game. He’s won on the BEL surface and had a good tightening workout five days ago. No reason to expect he won’t run as well as he did last time.
  • 11 Moreno – Runs to the front and is hard to catch. May be compromised by Big Cazanova, but don’t mistake this horse for a heartless speed horse. He is fast and can finish. Perhaps today he is just a bit short.
  • 12 Big Cazanova – Seriously? It seems like the only purpose this horse has is to compromise Moreno’s chance.

Race 11

  • 4 Grand Rapport – Jacobson trainee hasn’t run a bad race this year. Has the figures and should have no issue with the distance.
  • 5 Belisarius – as is typical of horses coming under Mott’s care, they often race to their top form. Had a difficult run the last time. Was wide around the turns, had to drop back on the backstretch and make a huge run in the stretch. Puts the shades on today and Rosario returns as the pilot.
  • 6 Capitan Futuro – didn’t do a lot last out on the BEL turf but that was at a higher price. Should be far more competitive at this level.
  • 3 Innovation Economy – Lightly raced three year old makes his second start of 2014 and his first against older horses. Improvement today makes him a dangerous player.