Free Picks & Analysis — Who Do Ya Like?
Friday, June 9, 2017
It’s no secret that Saturday is a betting wonderland at Belmont Park, but Friday isn’t half-bad, either. There’s eleven races on the schedule, including five stakes races. The headliners include six-furlong sensation Whitmore in the True North Stakes, and a salty bunch of thirteen marathoners in the Belmont Gold Cup. The first race is scheduled for 12:50 PM EDT.
We’ve got FREE picks & analysis of all the action from Paul Hundley (@vapaul67). Paul’s our usual Friday handicapper for the action in New York, and we’re happy to have his insight on this big stakes card. Give Paul a follow on twitter when you can.
Take it away, Paul!
First of all, want to say today would have been my Brother Robert’s 62nd Birthday. Though you’ve been gone almost 15 years, you’re always in my thoughts.
Hello everyone, and welcome to a big Friday of racing at Belmont, which of course leads to an even bigger day Saturday, culminating with the 3rd leg of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes. Let’s dig into Friday, because we have 5 Stakes races, including an all Graded Stakes Pick 4 to end the card that we will have a suggested ticket for you to play (and once again I will be playing). Last week, we had 3 top pick winners, but just missed breaking even and more importantly our Late Pick 4 went kaput, which was disappointing because I did have a lot of confidence in it. Now let’s get to today, because we got bets to make, and hearts to break!
RACE 1: 4-BUST ANOTHER comes off of a poor effort last race but has several races in past that contend here. Will be running late and it was just a year ago defeated World Class sprinter Mind Your Biscuits. 8- Bobby On Fleek was last of 12 in Pat Day Mile on Derby day, but posted outside which was not the place to be on a track rated ‘wet fast’ at that point but looked no better than good at best. Before that showing had a nice 3 length win in a NY bred OC. 3rd off layoff for Chad Brown 23%, route to sprint 38%. Should have good stalking trip, but even money on morning line? 2-Manipulated was a dull 4th out of it 8 last out, that’s hard to excuse other than possibly bounced off career best effort 2 back. Is in for the tag , 2nd off claim for Rudy Rodriguez (20%).
RACE 2: 4-HOLY GOLD is my first of 3 longshot selections that I’ll be using on top today. Was well beaten in turf debut last race but was in far outside post, rushed to lead before tiring. Was 1st time blinkers that day. Has better post, a little turf experience, and should have it easier on front end. Feeling she is dangerous if allowed to set reasonable fractions. 7- Spring Folly ran good in debut, especially after being last early closed very nicely to be 3rd beaten 1 1/2 lengths. 3 works since, but was kinda dead on tote board that day, and I’m weary of horses like that making next start, especially at a much shorter price. To be respected though. 3-Catch Your Dreams has 2 career races both at 8.5F on turf. Now cuts back and 2nd off layoff for Jonathan Sheppard. Switches to Leparoux.
RACE 3: 5-MONSTER BEA is 2nd off layoff and 2nd start as a 4 year old, switches to Rosario. He was competitive in several stakes last year, including a nice effort behind the top 2 3 year old turf males in 2016, Camelot Kitten and Beach Patrol, in the Hill Prince at Belmont. 1-Turbo Street comes out of tough allowance race at Keeneland, where 2nd and 3rd place horses came back to win next out.Changed running style totally from U.S. debut where he was put on lead in G3 Tampa Bay, was taken off the pace and came up 1 1/2 lengths short as the favorite. 7- Mr. Maybe cuts back from longer distances, which may be to his liking as he has 2 wins in 5 starts at today’s 8.5f. 1st off the claim for John Tuscano (23%)
RACE 4: It’s a tricky Maiden race where you have a few horses who have raced well in some previous races versus a few well-bred first-time starters racing for some of the top owners in the industry. 4-ROUGH SEA is the 2nd of my longshot plays today. Was 2nd/12 in debut at MC 50K @ Keeneland, beaten 4 3/4 lengths, but 3 1/4 lengths ahead of show horse. Both and winner and show horse won next out. Was claimed in debut from Mark Casse, new Trainer Niall Saville boldly steps him up vs MSW’s this time. 2-Mr. Classical is 1 of the 4 first-timers in field, and it was a razor thin margin which one was most likely to make an impact. Have to admit connections of Chad Brown (21% FTS) and Javier Castellano (44% combination) tipped it in his favor. Also has been working well, and like the fact that he has only 1 gate work showing, and that was a few weeks ago. It is a sign that the gate will be no issue for him so they didn’t have to spend extra time on that. 10-Irst was hard closing 2nd in debut, then in first start at 3 runs flat 6th/10 as 4/5 favorite. No real excuse for effort other than Maybe needed a race, or that he didn’t take to Keeneland surface, and he wouldn’t be the first not to. Think this son of Union Rags is better than that effort and will show it today.
RACE 5: A very interesting running of the Tremont Stakes, that may be the first time I’ve ever seen a race where everyone is undefeated. Granted each has only raced once none the less it’s very rare I would imagine. Todd Pletcher trains half the field and there is a horse named after most famous football name in XFL history (remember them? 2001) in HE HATE ME, but none of those are my top choice. Going with the TEXAS Bred (because everything’s bigger in Texas, even my lead up to picking a Texas bred horse) 5-DIRECT DIAL. Owns the biggest margin of victory of the field, stretching his lead of 3 lengths entering stretch to over 7 3/4 when crossing wire. Switches to Jose Ortiz. Has 2 siblings that are Stakes winners, believe he will be 3rd today. 7-Salmanazar won at Keeneland same day as top pick did, actually finishing 2/5ths second faster than today’s foe. Opened up from break on top and coasted home, but probably could have won by a larger margin. Place horse Copper Bullet won next out. 6-Analyze Your Luck won debut on sloppy track here, speed figure kinda low but believe horse is better over a fast track which hopefully he gets today.
RACE 6: Four in here are coming out of a May 12 MSW run here at 1 1/4 miles. 6-I’M THE CAPTAIN NOW was 4th out 12 in that race, beaten 2 3/4 lengths. Two back, he was 2nd behind one of the best 3 year old turf horses in U.S. in Yoshida. 9- Markitoff has 2 consecutive thirds to start 3 year old campaign, puts blinkers on for Maker(21%), 1st off the claim (21%) 3rd off layoff (27%). 2-Rocketry was beaten favorite in that 5/12 race, best closer in field. Certainly capable but price will be short.
RACE 7: Last race before the All Stakes Pick 4 starts. 3-BRICKS AND MORTAR won debut on February 18, closing into slow early fractions, winning at 1 1/16th mile by 1 3/4 lengths, things a first-timer rarely does. Show horse Secretary At War won next out. String of a half dozen regular works coming into this, Chad Brown 27% +90 days away. His dam, Beyond The Waves, has produced 3 stakes winners, would not be a surprise if this one makes it 4 soon. Interesting to note that she is also the 2nd Dam of 2-Hello Holiday, meaning she is his Dam’s mom. 4-Tiz He The One had an impressive debut as well, closing from 10 lengths back at one point to win going away, albeit on dirt. Linda Rice is more than adequate switching to turf (13% first turf) and gets services of 20% turf Jock Jose Ortiz. His Dam already has a turf winner as well. 8-Snap Decision has been in the money last 4 starts, including 2 1/2 length win to break maiden at 9F. Another who likes to come off of pace, which is generally what wins these turf routes at Belmont. Has ran versus likes of Conquest Sandman, Ticonderoga and Dover Cliffs.
RACE 8: Start of the All Graded Stakes Pick 4 and we do have a suggested ticket to play, and I will in fact be playing. Whitmore is clearly the hottest horse coming in but I believe he’s vulnerable here for several reasons, so taking the 2nd off the layoff 3-NOHOLDINGBACK BEAR, who was beaten 1 3/4 lengths in 4 year old debut by Stallwalkin’ Dude. Was Grade 3 Winner and Grade 1 placed last year, his best numbers rates him a legitimate contender. Makes 2nd start for Brian Lynch. 8-Whitmore , the obvious favorite and winner of 5 in a row, to me is beatable here. For one, is coming in off only 3 weeks off, which he has only did that once before and the results weren’t good. Also, while Ricardo Santana is a good jockey, he hasn’t ridden much at all at Belmont, which I believe this track more than any it pays to be experienced over it. Don’t discount, will be super tough. 4-Stallwalkin’ Dude as mentioned defeated top pick last race and his best speed figures also make him a strong contender. Using all 3 of those in pick 4.
RACE 9: 8-DACITA won this race last year, came back off 8 month layoff to be just beaten by a nose to Hawksmoor in Grade 3 Beaugay. Brown 22% 2nd off layoff. Don’t know if Irad had option of her and Sea Calisi but if so that is telling he chose Dacita. 6-Sea Calisi also makes 2nd start off layoff as well for Chad. Won Grade 2 last race by 2 1/2 lengths over Suffered and Apple Betty. Won Grade 1 last year and was 2nd in this race to Dacita last year. 1-Quidura is lightly raced but already a Grade 3 winner in just 5 starts. Gets Castellano and will save all the ground on the rail. First time beyond 8.5F but don’t see distance being an issue. Using all 3 for the Pick 4.
RACE 10: 2 miles on the turf? Is this Australia?? Seriously, this is the race most likely to knock tickets out of Pick 4 and 6. I would rather handicap 20 Breeders Cup races than 1 of these, however, I took a solemn oath to break this race down to find a winner. What makes this race puzzling is there a lot of European invaders coming in off long layoffs, and I really didn’t want to go with any of those because A)the layoff and B) I know very little about them . So I decided to go a different route and used this to select my 3rd and final longshot selection of the card in 2-RENOWN. Has won last 3, including Grade 3 Sycamore 2 back. Won a $50K steeplechase Stakes on Derby Day at Great Meadow in my home state of Virginia. Very little early speed to put pressure on him other than Roman Approval, who doesn’t appear to be in same class with others in here. Odd to think a 2 mile turf race could be won gate to wire but I’m hoping this is the case because he will be a nice price for the Pick 4. 11-Taghleeb was 2nd beaten 6L to impressive Zhukova in G1 Man O War. Does have a win at today’s distance at Gulfstream, 3rd off the layoff for Mike Maker (27%) In the odd stat of the day department, Maker and Jose Ortiz are 0 for last 18 races together. 3-Now We Can is an 8 year old who returns to U.S. having ran 2nd in this race last year. Does not appear to be in the same form he was in coming into last year’s race however. Still must respect. Also using for the Pick 4 10-Red Cardinal.
RACE 11: Payoff leg and I “almost” singled 5-LIGHTSTREAM, but wanted a bit more coverage in the race. Nevertheless, she is my top selection here. Had a forgettable 2017 debut, 5th of 7 in Humana Distaff, but it was first time she had ran over a sloppy track. Seems to be training much sharper coming into this race, Lynch 17% 2nd off layoff. Is at mercy of the pace with closing style but is in the hands of the best in Castellano. 2-High Ridge Road has disappointed last 2 but you could find excuses for each effort. 2 back didn’t have a good start combined with wide trip, last race ran on a sloppy track breaking from rail. Rice 27% route to sprint and a 29% combination with Jose Ortiz.9-By The Moon ran huge last race on a sloppy track but has ran almost as well on fast tracks. Today’s 7 furlong distance probably not her preferred distance but is very classy and will be up on the pace early. Using these 3 in Pick 4.
So to review, here is our Pick 4 ticket:
which is a $54 investment for a $.50 play. Good luck today and tomorrow everyone!!
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