US Racing - Belmont Card Preview

What a wonderful day’s racing we have to look forward to today, with quality graded stakes races the length and breadth of the USA. There is no way I can hope to cover all the available racing so I will be reviewing the major races from a sumptuous Belmont Park card which includes some classy shippers from Ireland and The UK.

Race: Race 7 – Dwyer Stakes

Grade: Grade 3

Distance/Surface: 1 mile on the dirt track

Age: 3 year old

Purse: $500,000

This is a major prize for a grade 3 event, which will see Economic Model go off a very short priced favorite (Evens according to the Morning Line but could well go off shorter). The horse has really come to himself since a very moderate run in the Tampa Bay Derby and was a very impressive winner in the Easy goer last time out, earning a Beyer of 101.

This is way beyond anything the rest of the field has achieved, in fact there is very little graded on offer from the opposition. As such, it is difficult to get away from the favorite, assuming he wasn’t flattered by his last run. If you want to play against Economic Model then, at the ML odds of 8/1, Fish Trappe Road looks a value play. His recent second in a grade 2 was decent and he is well drawn for a stalking trip behind the favorite.

Race: Race 8 – Belmont Derby Invitational

Grade: Grade 1

Distance/Surface: 1 ¼ miles on the inner turf track

Age: 3 year old

Purse: $1,250,000

The first of Belmont’s big turf Grade 1s sees 13 runners face the starter. It looks a very open race and the Morning Line agrees just awarding 7/2 favoritism to the Irish shipper Long Island Sound. This horse ran well to be beaten 4 lengths by Hawkbill in the Tercentenary Stakes at Ascot and Hawkbill franked that form by going on to win the Eclipse (Grade 1) at Sandown, although this did not look the strongest renewal of that prestigious race.

My immediate feeling was to field against the shippers as Richard Hannon’s Humprey Bogart looks one-paced but, it has to be said, the race does not look full of horses blessed with a finishing turn of foot. I can’t really get an angle into this race but Camelot Kitten has improved for the application of blinkers and has shown the ability to handle these big fields and may represent a bit of value at the Morning Line price of 5/1.

Race: Race 9 – Suburban Handiacp

Grade: Grade 2

Distance/Surface: 1 ¼ miles on the dirt track

Age: 4 year olds and up

Purse: $500,000

Effinex is the 5/2 Morning Line favorite for this valuable Grade 2 handicap, which has a field of just 8 starters. However, he along with another of the fancied horses, Noble Bird, will have to come back from very moderate last time out performances. However, in Effinex’s favor, he did bounce back from a poor run to win this race in 2015.

There is no doubt Effinex has the talent to win this but he is not a value price in my opinion considering his lack of consistency and the fact he has to give weight away to all his opponents.

I like the chances of a stablemate of Effinex in the form of Shaman Ghost, particularly at the ML odds of 5/1. He is consistent and in top form following an easy win in the Brooklyn Handicap. This is a drop back in trip but he won the Queen’s plate over 1 ¼ miles last year and his guaranteed stamina will be very useful if fractions are quick.

Race: Race 10 – Belmont Oaks Invitational

Grade: Grade 1

Distance/Surface: 1 ¼ miles on the inner turf track

Age: 3 year old

Purse: $1,000,000

The second big Grade 1 turf race of the evening sees another 13 strong field and all eyes will be on ML favorite (2/1) Catch a Glimpse, who will attempt to make it 8 wins on the spin. Over and above the $1m purse, the winner will also get an expenses paid entry to the Breeders’ Cup Fillies and Mares turf.

The big question to be answered is will Catch a Glimpse stay the trip as she has never gone beyond a mile and a sixteenth so far. In her last race, The Penn Mile, she did not look as she was extending as she passed the post and I would take her on over this trip with Belmont’s long straight carrying out a searching examination of any holes in her stamina.

If the ground stays firm (and there are storms forecast), I do like the look of the Irish shipper Ballydoyle. She definitely gets the trip and will get a strong pace if stablemate, Coolmore, does her job. Her form behind Minding is top class and she can make it a profitable trip for her very shrewd handler, Aidan O’Brien.

Race: Race 11 – Belmont Sprint Championship

Grade: Grade 3

Distance/Surface: 7 furlongs on the dirt track

Age: 3 year olds and up

Purse: $400,000

We conclude the card with a race for the sprint fans as a field of 9 line up for the Belmont Sprint over 7 furlongs. Last year’s winner, Private Zone, lines up again this year but there are a number of differences. In 2015, he had three races to prepare him and the race was not overly strong. However, this year, he has not had any sort of prep race (not run since Nov 2015) and this looks a hot renewal.

This race looks a means to an end (ie the Breeders’ Cup) and this has been intimated by connections. As such I couldn’t recommend a bet on him in these circumstances. Don’t get me wrong, he is a classy horse with four Grade 1s to his name and he could win it with his class. However, the Morning Line price of 2/1 looks plenty short enough.

Anchor Down looks an obvious altenrative and has been running very well of late. A repeat of his win in the Westchester would see him go close, while AP Indian is interesting having posted some solid efforts recently although his lack of success at this level has to be a concern.

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