My group of gambling girlfriends—the YaYas—are off to the OTW facility on Wednesday, after partaking of some 5 Guys hamburgers (only the best hamburgers in the world). I have prepped for Belmont (one of my favorite late spring tracks), some Delaware and Churchill races, and looked at Suffolk Downs. I will probably take a stab at Hollywood’s Pick 6 before I leave there too…with a carryover of $850,466, why the hell not?
At Belmont, a highlight for me will be race 7, the $65,000 Straight Deal Stakes (1 mile turf), as two of my early spring favorite 3 year olds, Twilight Meteor and Summer Doldrums, will be running. This is a fascinating match-up, as Twilight Meteor (like Curlin) is out of Smart Strike, while Summer Doldrums (like Street Sense) is out of Street Cry. The latter has never tried turf before and trainer Richard Violette has a poor “first on grass” record (8% wins in 77 starts), plus I’m sure he will be overbet, so regretfully I will pass on him. Pletcher’s first-call jock John Velazquez returns to ride Twilight Meteor who last failed as the favorite in the G2 Lane’s End. Four of his six starts thus far have been on turf, where he is 2-1-0. That said, I may pass on him here as the pattern of his recent workouts concerns me. So, who do I like? Admiral Bird returns after a six-month layoff, with Garrett Gomez back up, and looks good here, especially with hot trainer Clement Christophe. The same is probably true of another son of Smart Strike, Strike A Deal, whose last race was a victory in the Laurel Futurity back in November, over 1-1/16 mile turf. I am looking at Bill Mott’s Le Dauphin to fill out my trifecta bet. He has had excellent workouts since last race (March 26 at Gulfstream). I may also try Angelouie who is coming off a maiden victory 18 days ago at Belmont, but was just edged out in two previous, including losing by a nose to Lattice who won an turf allowance race at Churchill Downs on May 18.
Race 8, the Yank’s Music Stakes, has only 6 fillies and mares going 1-1/16 mile. Shug McGaughey’s Altesse looked impressive getting a hand ride victory last time out (April 13), but I’m not crazy about her here, as her three wins have all come at 1 mile distance. I am a big Dynaformer fan, so that appeals to me about James Jerkens’ entry Dina. However, except for a big race at Aqueduct back in February (Rare Treat Handicap), there’s not much to indicate enough late speed recently. Jerkens’ other (uncoupled) entry, Ring True, last year’s winner of the Xtraheat Stakes, looks like a sprinter to me, so is she a rabbit here? Darley Stable’s Veneti gets Eibar Coa back, with whom she won twice at Aqueduct last November, but again I’m not sure about the extra distance (and the step up). I am actually leaning towards Barclay Tagg’s Dance Away Capote, making her third start this year, who broke awkwardly on the polytrack at Keeneland in the G3 Double Dog Dare Stakes in April. Sugar Swirl looks to be the early speed, and may have enough to hang on for a piece of the pie.
In race 2 at Belmont, Pangburn runs again just one week after winning at 6 furlongs; is it too much to ask him to go 1-1/8 mile so quickly? My first pick here, though, is longshot Fancy Runner who is coming off three route wins, and two strong workouts. He bested Fit Faze in April at Aqueduct, but that horse came back to win at Belmont on May 9 in a $35K claiming race. They match up again here. Finally, I’ll take a long look at Pay Attention, who won last out and has strong workout 5 days ago.
In the other races at Belmont, I will be betting the following:
Race 3: Rondo, Bold Mon and Silver Ferrari
Race 4: Josefina’s Pride, Twilight Gallop, and Trophy Pride
Race 6: Holiday Trip, Blazing Dynamo, and Port Royal
In addition to Belmont, in the ninth race at Suffolk Downs (a $5,000 maiden claiming race over 6 furlongs), I will be rooting like hell for six-year-old gelding Four Acres who is attempting his first victory in 65 races. My god, you would think they would have given up on this horse by now! He has only earned $11,608 over the years, placing 5 times and showing 7 times. His last time out (one week ago) he finished dead last, 42 lengths behind the winner at 1 mile. Maybe the shorter distance will help him?