Free Picks & Analysis — Who Do Ya Like?
Saturday, October 14, 2017
A ten-race card is on the schedule at Belmont Park today, with two stakes races: the Belmont Futurity, and the Pebbles Stakes! First post time is 12:55 PM EDT.
We’ve got FREE picks & analysis for today’s card from Jason Perry (@jmanmetsfan1)! Jason was a contributor to Scott Shapiro’s site, shapperdacapper.com, in the past, and has also written for Danonymous Racing before. He wrote about Saratoga Thursdays for the site, and we’re happy to have him as our Belmont Park guy every Friday! Give him a follow on twitter when you can.
Take it away, Jason!
Buddy Anthony (3) is on my never ever again list after blowing a race at this level last out. He should have never lost after his only rival on paper got left at the gate, but then showed a new dimension running him down late. It’s a bad group, so be sure to spread in this race.
Hopefully the upsetter will be Northern Grey (6) wheeled right back for David Jacobson. He lost all chance in his first start off the layoff breaking terribly and racing wide throughout from a poor post position. DJ does better second off the layoff than first off, even if he doesn’t post big numbers. My big concern with this gelding is the long time he was away after the claim way back in December of 2016.
Reedini (5) also returns on short rest, but will race for a lesser barn than he was just claimed from. Things have not gone as planned for this regally bred half brother to champion Midnight Lute. I think there won’t be the necessary value to support this gelding, but a win by most of these entrants would be hard to call a surprise.
My Friend (4) has had a forgettable 2017 campaign, and was a no factor against some common race opponents when last seen at Saratoga.
I’ve always been against Ethan Hunt (2) ever since claimed away from Todd Pletcher way back in December of 2016, and it’s paid off eight of nine times since. The exception being a 4-5 win second off the claim. Expect a similar meh effort.
I’m ashamed to say that I liked Remstin (1) a bit last out. He ran horribly off the layoff, and now drops way down the ladder to bottom level claimers. It’s obviously a red flag, but that doesn’t mean he can’t wake up at this level. I expect this guy will get claimed today and someone will take a shot on improving him. What that means today is nothing, but if he has three legs left he could beat these.
Susan and Jim Hill start a pair of runners, for different conditioners. George Weaver saddles Winning Element (2B). He improved adding Lasix and getting on grass. Any value he might have had is gone since he is coupled with Now in a Drive (2). He has run some big races, but finds a way to lose all the time. They finally put him on the lead last out, and that’s the place he wants to be. Unfortunately, there is a lot of other speed signed on so I look for yet another second or third place finish. Look, there is nothing wrong with keying a horse for second or third as opposed to calling the winner.
In similar fashion, but a less threat to win is the plodding Ninety One Assault (1). You know what to expect from him, and that’s a minor award at best. Chad Brown saddles a pair of horses new to his barn.
Battle of Blenheim (4) is interesting because I’ve never seen Brown saddle a horse for Joseph Allen, who typically uses Jerkens or McGaughey. This colt didn’t run a step in his debut over a year ago. That’s not too concerning since former trainer Shug McGaughey often gives his horses a race. This well bred son of War Front had a poor start and raced wide at a distance that’s likely too short. Now he’ll stretch out and race with first Lasix. His Grade I winning dam hasn’t had much success as a broodmare, mainly because many of her progeny never raced, or only had a couple starts. Perhaps her offspring are fragile.
Barn mate Fallstar (8) is transferred to Brown, and was formerly trained by Doug O’Neil. His lone start this year was a good second to the talented West Coast last March. This son of Speightstown will now try grass for the first time, and he has some real pedigree power. Speightstown is a strong grass influential stallion, and Stone Street Stables purchased his dam, Katzen, for $800,000 as a broodmare prospect after her brief career came to an end. She won three of four starts with one second before a life threatening training injury ended her racing career. Her victories included the GII Hollywood Oaks on grass, and she also set a track record at Del Mar taking the Torrey Pines at a mile on turf. You can expect Chad Brown to have her ready. From an outside post he should use her speed to get a good spot, especially since the course has been kind to horses on or near the lead as well as racing inside. Kulin Rock (6) outran his debut odds finishing fourth beaten only two and a half lengths. It often doesn’t materialize in New York, but he should get a favorable pace scenario. He’s out of a good turf sire Lonhro and his mothers side is pretty strong as well. His dam was graded stakes placed, and his grand dam was a half sibling to numerous stakes winners and a pair of GI winners.
Playing Hooky (7) goes first out for the underrated Alan Goldberg for his best ownership group. Goldberg has modest debut route numbers, but it’s nice to see a jock aboard he’s had success with from limited tries.
Strong Side (1A) has had plenty of chances, no thanks for me.
Jason Servis is incredible with all angles, but first time in his barn he’s a staggering 41% from a large sample while posting a $2.82 ROI. He will send out Expensive Taste (3) a well bred daughter of Giant’s Causeway that has raced just once, over a year ago at Del Mar. The layoff doesn’t bother me in the least as Servis wins at a 34% clip with a $2.72 ROI with horses away six months or longer. This gals dam bankrolled over $200,000 in sixteen starts and she is a half sibling to multiple stakes winner Summer Wind Dancer ($898,000). This is a soft group, and if she runs to her pedigree for strong connections, they might be racing for second.
McLaughlin saddles a pair. He has poor numbers with first time starters so I’m inclined to give Sleigh Ride (5) a race. Stonestreet Stables owns this filly so she still scares me a bit.
Barn mate Yaalil (4) is eligible to improve, but she finished dead last at 22-1 in her lone start, so dramatic improvement is what will be necessary.
Tiz the Light (2) has not moved forward since the trainer switch to Nevin. She’s a half sis to millionaire By the Moon, and is running out of chances. The presence of Velazquez might indicate she’s doing well in the morning. He doesn’t ride frequently for this barn, and when he does he posts a $3.85 ROI. Nevertheless, the 2-1 ML odds seem poor.
I want to use Total Control (1). She races for Brian Lynch for the first time. Lynch has had great success with horses away six months and longer (21% $5.85 ROI). This filly has worked well in the morning, and Jose Ortiz sees fit to ride. Take notice when Ortiz rides for Lynch since he’s won eight of twenty-five starts while posting a staggering $5.96 ROI.
Ducru (6) has just one race back in November. She returns with blinkers and first Lasix for new trainer Carlos Martin. The presence of Rosario is encouraging, but I’m not thrilled about the trainer change. Formerly trained by Christophe Clement is not an angle I’m fond of to say the least.
Vigor (2) is from an awesome family. There are talented runners all throughout her pedigree. Her mom had two wins and a second from four starts, and she is a half sibling to Blame ($4.3 million) and Tend ($596K). Her grand dam is a half to Archipenko ($924K) who ran second in the Arlington Million against males. Inside speed has done well so far at Belmont, and this horse seems by far the quickest on paper. It’s her race to win or lose.
The only other speed on paper is Bow Town Cat (4), but often dirt sprint speed doesn’t translate to turf sprint speed. It certainly didn’t three races back at Monmouth when she found himself in sixth virtually throughout in a seven horse field. She has a propensity for running second, and has never won on grass.
Epping Forrest (9) looms the biggest threat. Particularly if any speed duel develops. She loves this Belmont course, and has twice won over it going six furlongs from three chances. Her last came against better. The Chad Brown winner that day, Rubilinda, would be 3-5 against these.
Libby’s Tail (3) had a disastrous start which cost her all chance in her most recent start over an off track. She tries turf for the first time. While I have no problem with Tiz Wonderful progeny on turf, her female side is seriously lacking grass influence. This looks like a bit of a reach for Rudy Rodriguez in an effort to wake her up. I’m afraid her back class and glaring trouble in her last start will drive her price down more than it should. I’m usually against May Flowers (5), and Friday will be no exception. She wins too infrequently for my taste, and although she has put together two victories in her last four starts, those races were against lesser. She should pass some tired horses, and could be used on the back end though. She was stuck at the 40K N2L seemingly forever, and her victory last out was a consequence of a pace meltdown.
Goldwood (8) is taking a significant class hike here. Although I like these connections, this looks like an ambitious placement.
There are not many barns I could support taking a horse from Wesley Ward, but Linda Rice is effective claiming horses from top stables. That said, Professor Snape (1) should have won last out second off the claim when he was out front through reasonable fractions, but was unable to hold on at the 16K level. Now he rises a notch in class to take on a similar, but larger field than he just battled. This race came up extremely light on front end type given the large number of entrants. He can certainly make amends.
The one I want though is Bancroft Hall (8). Trainer Danny Gargan is running a little cold right now, and he’s aggressively spotting here. I don’t see this as a red flag situation. This colt has been unable to stay on the track and shows four layoff lines in as many races. That might be enough to keep him safe from getting claimed. Midwest Thoroughbreds like to see wins, and this horse is spotted in a place he can do that. The outside draw looks good, and he will be back on a fast main track where he’s ran his best two races. He’s also reunited with Gargan’s main man Kendrick Carmouche.
Asphalt Paving (6) has run well here at Belmont, so I’m willing to toss the turf try off the layoff, particularly since Bruce Levine is so good second off the layoff. He could have just been using the grass as a tightener. At least he has a little speed since so many in here do not. It may be noteworthy both of his good races came on an off track however.
Two Down One to Go (7) is just 1-20 lifetime, but he can be used. I’ve vowed never to exclude a David Cannizzo runner when he uses Joel Rosario. They’ve been an awesome combination for two years now. This gelding turns back in distance while returning to the main track where he is much more effective. In nine dirt starts he has a win, four seconds, and three thirds. He may not have the necessary speed going one turn, but he can plod along in this spot for a share. Demand more than the unrealistic 4-1 ML.
Borsa Vento (9) lost to a Cannizzo and Joel Rosario runner, Thaddeus, in his last start. He had a tough trip that day and was probably best. He likes to be near the lead which would be advantageous if he can get a better start.
My Mr. Wonderful (2) was major disappointment in his second career start when he stopped at 4-5 odds getting on the grass. He was washed off the turf in his debut, and ran well, so the poor effort second out is a bit of a head scratcher. He could right the ship on Friday. At least he will be considerably better value.
Sea Foam (11) gets on the grass for the first time. He has a pair off good second place finishes on dirt, most recently running into the very well meant Stoney Bennett. From a pedigree perspective he should be fine on turf. His mother was a stakes winner and GIII placed in turf routes. It just begs the question, why two dirt sprints for a horse that has plenty of stamina influence and a dam that excelled on grass?
Smooth Move (12) has good turf pedigree himself. He draws a tough post though, and Linda Rice is historically much better with second time starters than with debut runners.
Anything Pazible (5) had a useful debut and races first Lasix and blinkers off. Trainer Robert Falone is an up and coming conditioner that merits respect. There is some value here. I don’t want to ever be the guy that leaves Jason Servis out.
However, Oh Shea Can You See (6) beat only two horses in his Monmouth debut. I’m also concerned about the relatively low purchase price. He commanded only $50,000 at auction, just a third of what Curlin stands for.
If either Nolinski (13) or Barbarossa (15) draws in they must be used. The latter would be a heavy favorite after a good second to a Wesley Ward trainee that returned to win a stakes race.
The David Jacobson entry looks formidable. He often scratches one so we will see how that plays out. Very Very Stella (1) ran a career best speed figure in his first race for DJ. That was impressive since all five previous wins came on the turf. He’s going to have to further improve though, and this is a salty group of veterans. Partly Mocha (1A) has had a real nice career. He races first off the Jacobson claim, but it’s a lateral barn switch since he was formerly trained by Mike Maker. This hard hitter has always been better going five furlongs though, and has just one win in six starts going six panels.
End Play (11) is versatile and runs best close to the pace. This is a tough post though, and his last win came over Lord Of Love, a horse that simply never wins.
A stronger case can be made for Spring to the Sky (5). There isn’t much speed in here, and he’s always loved this course and distance. This is the first time he’s offered for a tag, but I fear we’ve seen his best by far. He can outrun his odds though with a positive rider switch. Even if he’s not the horse he used to be, I like him back at his home base.
I’ll probably kick myself later, but I’m drawn to English Minister (3). He’s made a career out of settling for minor shares. However three back he ran well sprinting, and his company lines are impressive. Last out he was beaten only 2 ½ lengths by Annals of Time and Black Tide. Going back to last year he was beaten less than two lengths sprinting against Plainview, Tombelaine, and Dowse’s Beach. This horse has some good early speed coupled with an ability to close. I’m also fond of Trombetta going route to sprint. He may not win, as usual, but I recommend using him everywhere underneath. He typically fires some shot, and the price will probably be right.
Grand Sky (6) put together a pair of consecutive wins off the claim for Servis. Take caution, those were against lesser by far, and he won’t offer a bit of value. He’s not going to get better at this point either.
Daddy D T (2) was stuck forever against N1X rivals. He’s won just two of seventeen, and after the pathetic performance of a similar runner for Diodoro that raced Thursday first off the claim, I will pass.
In the Futurity I’m only interested in two horses. Engage (6) seems the horse to beat. He is a pricey son of Into Mischief that fetched over half a million bucks as a two-year old in training. I believe this colt has big talent. In his debut he got bumped around a bunch, and ran well to finish second in good time. The swift Pletcher trainee National Flag bested him that day with a race experience under his belt. He rebounded second out to win, and has trained forwardly since.
I expect him to track Happy Like a Fool (2) early, since he’s the most likely pace setter. That Distorted Humor filly will tackle the boys on Saturday. She broke her maiden first out at Keeneland in the spring, as many Ward runners do, and then beat twenty-two opponents second out at Royal Ascot in a Group II. She underwhelmed in her third start though finishing sixth overseas in a small field. I would be a lot more motivated if she had someone other than Tyler Gaffalione riding. It definitely makes me leery of taking her seriously. Tyler has won only two of thirty starts for the high percentage Ward.
I also think Barry Lee (3) will show more early interest with blinkers on. This son of the promising stallion Violence commanded $380,000 at auction as a two-year old in training. Horacio de la Paz is stellar with all applicable stats, and gives the leg up to Joel Rosario. He’s a major player here.
I’m a bit against Mojovation (4). He won first out for TAP when handed an easy lead. Then against real rivals he folded like a tent in the GI Hopeful. He won’t make the lead, and the jury is out if he can rate. Do you want him at a short price? I don’t.
The bargain buy Red Peril (1) takes a big step up for an obscure, but high percentage outfit. He has quicker horses to his outside, and would simply shock me if able to rate and win.
In the 200K Pebbles all eyes will be in the Chad Brown pair. Rubilinda (2) has been well supported in all three starts, rightfully so. I will admit that I see her as the most likely winner, but at 8-5 on the morning line I also see plenty of reasons to consider others. She’s a one-run sprinting closer that may not want eight furlongs. In her debut she faced a horse happy with underneath finishes, Remarqued, as well as a talented Vigor that had yet to figure things out. Second out she got wired out by a TAP trainee that is really not that good, and she returned to show just that. Last out she needed every bit of real estate to get up, and I still can’t believe she did in retrospect. There’s not much speed in here to facilitate her good late kick either.
Barn mate Thais (3) got wired about by an absurd long shot that was handed victory. I actually prefer her of the Brown pair. Analyzing the internal fractions she came home in really quick time. I think she was brought to North America because her best race came over a firm turf course. Look for a big performance.
Party Boat (4) is a must use. She doesn’t want to go nine furlongs, and now turns back to one turn. In her last pair she squared off against a personal favorite Proctor’s Ledge. She’s won four of eleven starts with three thirds, and ALWAYS tries. I could make a case for her as the horse to beat. Instead, I will make a case for her as the horse you can expect to turn in a good effort.
Adorable Miss (1) is meh…she’s not going to beat these, and won’t offer value. Obviously include her in exotics, but in the late pick four no thanks.
Bellavais (7) would be my underneath value play. The India and Suffolk campaign is a turn off but she’s perfect going a mile on grass, and 15-1 can boost up your tri or super on the back end.
Warm Springs (5) is by far the best speed on paper, and the threat to wire these. 10-1 is great value. I like 5 and 1+7 then everyone else…
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