Free Picks & Analysis — Who Do Ya Like?
Saturday, July 7, 2018
It’s Stars and Stripes Day at Belmont Park! They’ve got a massive 11-race program on the schedule today, including five stakes races! First post time is 1:30 PM EDT.
We’ve got myself, managing editor John Piassek (@theyreoff) stepping in to provide FREE picks & analysis of the program. You can check out my recaps of each Belmont Park card at the end of each race day as well.
Good luck to everyone playing along out there!
Race 1: Maiden Special Weight, 2yo, 6 Furlongs
6- Meade: The “other” Pletcher in this race, this $250,000 purchase has had some good workouts coming into his debut. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of action he gets.
4- Social Paranoia: Finished a sharp-closing second in his debut at Gulfstream Park back in May. The 6/5 morning line favorite will seek to improve second time out.
2- Dillon Rocks: He’s got two bullet workouts coming into this race, most recently a 4-furlong drill in 48 seconds back on July 3. His worktab is a bit light (six workouts so far), so he may need a race.
Race 2: Allowance Optional Claiming (n/w2x), 3yo and up, 6 1/2 Furlongs
10- Mr. Brix: Last out at Parx, he battled through a fast pace and drew off to a sharp victory in a n/w1x allowance race. In that race, he broke from post nine and still managed to get near the pace, so the far outside draw should not be much of an impediment. Looks very dangerous.
4- Gold for the King: He’s earned triple-digit brisnet figures in each of his last two races, making him the only member of the field to do so. Raced very wide throughout in his first start off a long layoff last out, should get a better trip today. Having a race under his belt helps matters.
7- Phi Beta Express: Gets back to the dirt after an ill-advised try on grass. He’s the clear-cut early speed and will almost certainly be hustled out of the gate right to the front. Manny Franco rides for the first time, after previously being ridden by Kendrick Carmouche.
Race 3: Allowance Optional Claiming (n/w2x), 3yo and up, 1 Mile (Grass)
8- American Guru: His brisnet figures tower over the rest. He ran a 97 in each of his last two races, while no one else has run better than a 90 during that stretch. His defeat against n/w2x horses at 3/5 last time out is a bit concerning, but it was a game effort that he lost by just a nose. If you’re going to single anywhere in the early pick 4 sequence, he’s the horse to do it with.
6- Parauari: Chad Brown and Jose Ortiz is always a dangerous combination on the grass. Finished fifth in his American debut after running in France last year.
1- Sun Lover: Improved his figure up to an 89 last out when making his second start off the layoff. He’ll do his best running from the back of the pack.
Race 4: Allowance (n/w1x), 3yo and up, 1 1/4 Miles (Inner Grass)
5- Red Knight: Battled on down the stretch to lose by a nose in his first race off a long layoff. Jockey Junior Alvarado has been riding a hot hand on grass lately, and has been doing very well with Bill Mott horses in particular. This one is running under the name of Mott’s assistant, Leana Willaford, while Mott serves a suspension.
3- Gauguin: The “other” Mott/Willaford in the field, he’s lost each of his last two races at this level by less than a length, while improving his figure each time. Gets blinkers on.
6- Im the Captain Now: This one-time chronic maiden closed sharply to finish fourth in his first n/w1x race last time out. Given his prior tendencies to always fall short, I’m a bit suspicious of him, but his figures match up with the rest. He’s one to consider using underneath.
Race 5: Allowance (n/w1x), 3yo and up, 1 Mile
6- Nigel’s Destiny: Crushed a $40,000 claiming field last out, pressing the pace four-wide and drawing off to earn a big figure of 102. Gets a jockey upgrade to Jose Ortiz, who hits at 31% with horses trained by Jeremiah Englehart.
4- Split Verdict: Runs for the first time since March 25, when he broke his maiden going a mile after a tough stretch battle. Lightly raced horse has opportunity for great improvement.
9- Exulting: Broke awkwardly last time and lost crucial early position. Prior to that, he was a game second in his first race off the layoff, while going a mile. Needs to break cleanly this time to be considered a serious contender, but if he does that, he’s got a shot.
EARLY PICK 4: 4,5,7,10/8/3,5/4,6,9 – $12
Race 6: Dwyer Stakes, 3yo, 1 Mile
4- Noble Indy: This is the one and only time you’ll see me pick a horse who has lost his last two races by a combined 96 lengths. Of course, those two races were the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes. He won the Louisiana Derby three races ago, with a big figure of 100. He’s been working sharply since the Belmont, and should turn in a big effort here.
3- Rugbyman: Couldn’t quite get by in the Easy Goer, finishing second to longshot Prince Lucky by a length. Lightly-raced colt gets blinkers for the first time, and has a 14-length win going a mile at Belmont on his resume.
6- Mendelssohn: Twitter darling dominating in the UAE Derby, but turned in a clunker in the Kentucky Derby, finishing dead last. He’s using this race as a prep for bigger things down the road, but if he’s as good as advertised, he’ll win anyway. We’ll see.
Race 7: Belmont Sprint Championship, 3yo and up, 7 Furlongs
2- Whitmore: Finished second in the True North last out with a frantic rally. He’s always been more of a six-furlong specialist, but is largely unproven at seven furlongs. In his one try at the distance, in the Churchill Downs Stakes, he was running over a very sloppy track and had tons of traffic trouble. He’ll get a fast track here, and hopefully will steer clear of traffic issues.
1- Limousine Liberal: He’s finished in the top two six times out of nine going seven furlongs. Finished third in a salty renewal of the Met Mile, takes a drop in class here back to his preferred distance.
3- Eye Luv Lulu: The clear early speed of the field. Breaking from post three, and with no speed to his inside, he should get the inside pace position, which will serve him well. Won the Affirmed Success over this track last out as the 4/5 favorite.
Race 8: Belmont Oaks, 3yo, Fillies, 1 1/4 Miles (Inner Grass)
5- Toinette: She’s never lost on the grass, with a 3-for-3 record over the sod. Just got up over a troubled Rushing Fall to win the Edgewood Stakes last out. Has been steadily working over the Belmont grass.
4- Capla Temptress: Finished fourth in the group 1 Pretty Polly Stakes in France last out. As a two-year-old, she won the Natalma Stakes at Woodbine, earning a figure of 85. If she can improve off that as a three-year-old, she’s got a big chance.
7- La Signare: Took them gate-to-wire in the Wonder Again Stakes last out, and will try to work out a similar trip today.
Race 9: Suburban Stakes, 4yo and up, 1 1/4 Miles
5- Dr. Dorr: Couldn’t match up to Accelerate last time out in the Santa Anita Gold Cup, but still ran a big figure of 106, just a tick off the 107 he earned when winning the Californian two races ago. He’s got early speed and is drawn fairly close to the inside, so he should work out a good trip. Joe Talamo ships in from California for the mount.
8- Hoppertunity: Won the Brooklyn over this track last time, defeating hard-knockers War Story and Hard Study. If he wins today, he’ll push his earnings past his $5 million mark.
10- Diversify: Has won five of seven at Belmont, including a win in the Jockey Club Gold Cup last fall at this distance. Will try to get to the lead from his far outside post.
Race 10: Belmont Derby, 3yo, 1 1/4 Miles (Inner Grass)
3- Analyze It: Suffered a tough defeat at the hands of Catholic Boy last out in the Pennine Ridge Stakes, where he looked clear, only to be run down in the final few strides. His three wins prior to that were very impressive, so I’m counting on him to rebound here. The price should be fairly generous, too.
8- Hawkish: Won the Penn Mile impressively last time out. This will be a big test for him, as he’s never gone beyond 1 1/16 miles, and has never won past a mile. I must tread lightly with him as such, but he’s still a contender.
4- Hunting Horn: The most dangerous of the Europeans. He won a group 3 at Ascot last time out at this distance, and was beaten less than three lengths in the French Derby two races ago.
LATE PICK 4 PLAY: 1,2/4,5,6,7/5,8,10/3,4,8- $36
Race 11: Maiden Claiming $40,000, 3yo and up, NY-bred, 6 Furlongs (Grass)
11- My Mr. Wonderful: Drops in for a tag for the first time. He was disappointing last time when he was hung wide, but ran a strong figure of 84 first off the layoff in the race prior to that. Which version of him shows up today?
12- Dove Shoot: Jonathan Thomas has been having a fantastic meet, especially when Javier Castellano rides his horses. The outside post is troublesome, as is the fact he’s making his first ever start.
9- Dream Passage: Made a big four-wide bid that flattened out last time. Gets some class relief dropping from straight maidens, an angle trainer Brian Lynch hits at 37% with.
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