Free Picks & Analysis — Who Do Ya Like?
Sunday, September 9, 2018
After all the fun of Saratoga, the action in New York has shifted back to Belmont Park. There’s a 9-race card today, with the opener going off at 1:30 PM EDT. We’ve got picks & analysis of all the action from Jason Perry (@jmanmetsfan1)! Jason has written for Danonymous Racing before, and he handicapped Saratoga on Sundays all meet long. He’s back for Belmont coverage.
Take it away, Jason!
Not the most exciting of openers. These 12,500 claimers in New York typically have small fields of horses that can’t run. Madame Barbarian (5) is the most likely winner since she is probably in the best form. She hasn’t moved forward as much as I thought she would after being claimed by Gary Gullo four back. In her last start she wired a similar group, and the race prior she gave way after forcing a fast pace that enabled long shot Majestic Kindness (1). Madame Barbarian turned the tables in their last start, and is a faster horse on her best day. She’s typically competitive at this claiming level, and seems to be the speed in a race without any.
Woundwithhereyes (3) has not hit the board since she was claimed from Rudy Rod this spring. It’s not very surprising since she has been trying tougher rivals, for a much more low profile trainer. She’s finally dropped to an appropriate level, but I still don’t expect much from her.
Caoimhe (4) seemingly has no chance, and that’s a lot to say considering this in a five horse field of slow animals. She’s essentially plodded against N3l rivals, ever since she necked out a win at the N2l level.
Arewehavingfunyet (2) is clearly a player here. She’s a pretty consistent mare, that usually tries at this level. She is going to need to stay close enough to the lead since there isn’t much in the way of early speed signed on. She’s one of two horses I could argue for to win.
I’m extremely surprised to see that Strategic Outlook (2) is offered for a tag here. Admittedly, I preach about opposing these late starting Chad Brown trainees, because win or lose they are usually flawed. However, this one is really odd. This gelded son of Medaglia D’Oro cost $300,000 at auction, ran pretty well in his debut finishing a close beaten second, then is offered up for 75K in his second lifetime start. If it were at Saratoga I would just assume it’s Chad and Klaravich looking to get a win with a horse that has a relatively low ceiling, and pad their gaudy win totals. I’m a little curious as to why this horse didn’t run at The Spa when these connections were fire selling. Long story short, something doesn’t feel right. That said, the rest have serious concerns, and he will probably be an appropriate 3-5 shot at post time, on any surface.
Clyde’s Runner (3) has zero early speed in a race that doesn’t project to have much of it. It’s hard to envision a closer winning from out of the clouds here. Linda Rice is extraordinary off the claim, and she is effective claiming from high percentage barns, but I don’t know about claiming horses away from the really astute Johnathon Thomas barn.
Thomas debuted Eagle Pass (4) for half his purchase price, and he ran an accordingly mediocre fourth while being “dead” on the board. The one number that jumps out at me is Rice’s ridiculous number taking blinkers off. The nature of this short field gives this horse a chance should the favorite falter.
Letterman (5) seems to be given up on a little early for Jimmy Bond and Bill Clifton. I thought his debut was useful when he made an early move into a slow pace. The fact he didn’t debut until he was four certainly indicates soundness concerns. Perhaps he just fits here.
Vettel (8) was also claimed away from Thomas by Loooch Racing. He got washed off the turf in his lone start, and could improve on a surface he’s bred for. But, do you really want a horse moving from an assassin trainer, to Quarterolo?
David Donk’s numbers with layoffs of the nature Never Nevermore (6) returns from is bothersome. His bad effort over an off track is troubling as well.
Chad Brown saddles a pair of logical contenders making their second career start, while going from a sprint to a route. Aurelius Maximus (5) figures to be your favorite. In his lone start he was third beaten a little over three lengths at 5-2. This son of Pioneer of the Nile is from a great family. His mom was a graded stakes winner, and his grand dam, Queena, was a multiple grade one winner way back when I wore a young man’s clothes. Queena was a successful broodmare as well. She died relatively young from colic, but before she did, she bore both La Reina ($350K), and notable racehorse and stallion Brahms ($874K). This colt is bred to want more ground on both sides of his pedigree, and as good as Chad is first out, he’s equally proficient second time out.
Barn mate Fullness of Time (3) ran into a buzzsaw in his debut, Mucho. I’m a little turned off to why Chad and Klaravich Stable were 7-1 with anything. I feel like this son of Flatter should have brought more at auction. Here me out on this. Typically Flatter progeny that end up with Chad cost more in the $400,000 range. Couple that with the fact this colt is a half to the Ill fated Bobby Abu Dhabi, a Grade II winner and multiple graded stakes placed runner.
I like Empire of War (4) for Todd Pletcher. He got bumped at the start in his debut, and stretches out to the one-turn mile for a trainer that’s very good second time out. TAP turns to his main main John Velazquez hinting to me he’s sitting on a big race. This son of Declaration of War is half brother to the really quick Separation of Powers. Cotton House (1) is definitely not without hope. He took a little money in his debut, and attracted Irad Ortiz. Christophe Clement is good with turf-to-dirt runners, second time starters, and when going from sprint to route. This colt is likewise from a nice family. His dam earned about ($250K) and is a half sibling to multiple stakes winners With Distinction ($444K), as well as Living Vicariously, a really good Phipps Stable trainee way back in the early nineties.
Pointer View (2) took no mutual support in his lone start, and ran accordingly. He’s the lone entrant of the five I can’t make a case for.
In this group of six, I’m going to start with the horse that I don’t want. That is definitely Black Tide (6) . This gelding was a fun horse last summer, that ran some real bang up route races. His ability to open up monster leads, while still finishing well was cool to watch. His streak came to a screeching halt in December when he was lifeless at the claiming crown at Gulfstream. He went to the shelf after that horrible effort, and since his return he’s been a shadow of his old self. Now they are cutting way back in distance, but beware, you don’t want route speed on grass turning back to sprint distances. It simply does not translate. Add the fact that this barn is horrible route-to-sprint, and his long time jock is not interested.
His barn mate Blessed Halo (4) is much quicker early, and has a considerably better shot to win. I’m still not sold on this son of Kantharos. His only grass win came in a race without other early speed, and he defeated a habitual bridesmaid Yummy Bear that day.
Obviously Seize (5) merits respect as a first time Jason Servis runner. However, he’s always raced for shrewd barns, so I’m uncertain how much improvement can be expected. It’s also dubious if he can win from a stalking position. He will be in my horizontals, but I’m more interested in Mai Ty One On (3). This guy has shown me the versatility that could be key here. He comes in off a very nifty score, and I think this six furlongs distance is ideal. He seems to have rounded into top form.
If Big Rock (1) can duplicate his best, he’s clearly the horse to beat. It’s just that he hasn’t run a race good enough to beat these in over a year. The rail draw seems less than ideal as he likes to force the pace. I won’t leave him out either, but believe he will be an underlay, win or lose.
I think the win by Fear (2) two back was the exception, and not the rule. It came two back, a little out of the blue considering he didn’t show much in the seven races surrounding that score.
Full House (6) runs with the blinkers off when she returns off the layoff on Sunday. That has not been a notable move for Jimmy Jerkens. Her morning drills have been quick, probably sans the hood, but Jerkens tends to push them a bit in the morning, I’m not sure this distance is right either. Two-turn speed horses turning back to shorter distances sometimes spin their wheels.
I can make excuses for the recent defeats for Lezendary (5). She’s hooked off tracks in two of her last three, and ran into much better two back in the race between the off track tries. Or, she is simply not the horse we saw this winter at Aqueduct. It’s really interesting to see Joel Rosario take the call. He very rarely rides for Rudy.
All Hay Field (3) has done since the claim five back is to essentially get better with every start. She showed a new dimension last out when able to close from far back. She’s more comfortable stalking, but it just demonstrates that this horse can make his own trip. You simply have to use her.
I want to be against Picture Day (1). Her win last out came in slow time, and she was cold on the board. My instincts are to beat her, and she won’t be on my pick 4/5 tickets.
Pacific Gale (4) seems like a fringe player. Her lifetime highest speed figure is not enough to win here if any of most of her rivals are able to duplicate their top effort. She was relatively non threatening in her last pair against similar. Improvement is necessary for a win.
There is a lack of early speed n this event, that could very well allow Brimstone (2) to outrun his odds first off the claim for John Toscano. He was claimed out of a race in which Rudy Rodriguez was attempting to get him on grass. At the end of the day it’s really hard to land on a horse that is winless in six grass starts, but it is possibly noteworthy that his highest turf Beyer Figure of 87 is near his highest on dirt, and it would make him competitive here if able to duplicate that.
Mo Diddey (1) has good tactical speed that should have him favorably placed near the lead. The poor try most recently could be a result of the yielding turf, but the ground figures to be soft yet again. The biggest problem I have is that Mark Casse is almost impossible to get behind right now. Johnny V. sticks around at least, so I’d be willing to give him one more chance.
Another that has good tactical speed is Mascarello (7). He was marooned a bit in his last start when he was pretty cold on the board in my opinion. He, too, may simply not care for a grass course with give in it. With a smart ride, he should be the one that gets first run on the closers.
Honor Up (6) exits the same race. He made what looked to be a winning move, but hung pretty badly finishing off the board. We should probably keep in mind that race was won by a horse that doesn’t typically finish well, and tends to settle minor awards. This colt is in good form, and you know what you are going to get. Most likely we see an honest effort that may or may not be good enough to beat these, but he’s pretty likely to fire a big shot.
I don’t get We Should Talk (3) at anything close to 7-2. This distance seems to far, and he comes in off a narrow win versus lesser. Obviously should the race come off the grass he should be moved up.
Manoffire (9) was part of that blanket finish. That race really came apart late, and as much as I like Abreu he would be a surprise.
Hoeboe (8) was starting to figure things out prior to this long break he will race off of. David Donk wins just as frequently off extended layoffs as he does with all runners, so there is no reason to think he won’t be fit enough to fire fresh. The bigger question is if this guy is the same horse that went to the shelf as the one that will run on Sunday. I also think he may want further ground.
I’m not quite sure yet what to do with these Chad Brown runners that didn’t run at Saratoga. Maybe it is nothing to think about, and just a product of not having enough races for babies.
Looking at Bikinis (4) has been installed the 2-1 ML favorite, racing first out off a string of quick works. He has pretty obscure breeding, but was purchased out of a two-year old in training sale. I like the one’s that fetch a lot of money without the breeding, it’s always been an angle I love. He could be really quick.
Stable mate Bring the Dough (5) is a homebred out of Bernadini that doesn’t have much pedigree on his dam’s side. It is interesting that his last two works came from the gate. It makes me wonder if he didn’t break all that well in his work two back. A clean start is really important in a maiden sprint. In a common race for a few of these. Starlight Stable ponied up a hefty $400,000 to purchase Cutting Humor (7). His unraced mom is a half sister to the really fast Zensational, a winner of five of eight starts, and $669K. This colt has seemingly worked well, posting a solid 47.3 move from the gate to works back. Many TAP runners struggled breaking from the gate at Saratoga, so perhaps he’s paying more attention to having them gate smart.
Once again, I don’t want to dismiss Christophe Clement. He saddles Championship Alley (6) for an ownership group that I’m unfamiliar with. Regardless, this son of Broken Vow cost well over the sire’s stud fee as a two-year old in training at the OBS sale in March.
Strong One (1) cost $140,000 as a yearling. That’s a lot to pay for a Dialed In progeny. He must be put together pretty well, especially since there isn’t much pedigree appeal from his dam’s side.
Jake Rocks (8) also cost a lot for a very modest stallion. I have yet to see Robert Barbara have any success with these in training purchases for owner Joseph Bucci. They also seem to get bet more than they should indicating these connections like to get behind their horses at the windows. Hence, win or lose you get an underlay.
I know Graham Motion has struggled, but this one-turn distance seems to hit Berned (5) squarely on the nose. She’s an honest filly that has really been campaigned against better on many occasions. There seems to be a favorable pace scenario in this race, with plenty of rivals that like to be forwardly placed, and should ensure an honest pace.
I know Dreamcall (2) was getting to her a bit in her latest score, but that race was a product of a total pace meltdown, that favored a deep closer.
Rudy Rodriguez has campaigned Frostie Anne (6) as well as a trainer possibly could. She’s won six of eight starts this year, and she love it here at Belmont. I worry some that she will be challenged early, but that has not stopped her in the past.
The scratch of Divine Miss Grey could help Come Dancing (3), a talented sprinter that stretches out here. This seems like a tough spot to try routing for the first time. From a pedigree perspective, she should be able to navigate the distance. The price will also be right. It’s nice to see she gets another solid rider with Velazquez taking the call. She’s an interesting option at a price.
I certainly wouldn’t leave out Sneaky Betty (7). She’s exiting races where she’s been competitive going longer. Now she turns back to her favorite distance in which she’s won all four of her career starts at. 8-1 seems phenomenal value to me for some dangerous connections.
I’m having a hard time getting behind No Need to Appeal (1). Chad keeps running this filly in sprint races, suggesting she has stamina limitations. She’s a speed horse that drew the rail, but has faster horses to her outside. I’ll let her beat me.
If this stays on the grass I like Doup’s Point (2) to run a big race. Joel Rosario probably had a choice between him, and another logical contender, but he has landed here. He knows better than anyone the degree of trouble this horse had last out. Christophe Clement is really dangerous adding the blinkers.
I give him the nod over Pipes (8). Gary Contessa has enjoyed a bit of a revival of late, but route racing really isn’t his game.
Instead, I’m leery much more of a trainer I think that is really strong in route races, Michael Dilger. He sends out Wayne’s Footsteps (4). This colt ran a big race from a wide post when getting on grass after the dirt debut. I don’t know who will ride after Kendrick was injured on Saturday, but this son of freshman sire Central Banker should show speed stretching out. The fact he improved on a less than firm course at Saratoga has me a believer. The grass course will have plenty of give if they stay on it.
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