Free Picks & Analysis — Who Do Ya Like?
Saturday, June 9, 2018
It’s Belmont Stakes day! There’s 13 races on the program, with a bevy of graded stakes races. Of course, the headliner is the Belmont Stakes, with Justify trying to become the 13th Triple Crown winner in racing history? Can he do it? By about 7:00 PM EDT on Saturday, we’ll know.
We’ve got Mike Mahon (@MikeMahonPA) with picks & analysis of the program. Mike’s been writing about New York racing for a while now, and we’re happy to have him covering the Belmont meet. Give him a follow on twitter if you can.
Good luck, and take it away, Mike!
Race 2: Easy Goer Stakes, 1 1/16 Miles
4 to win
7 Dark Vader is gonna take some money from the Star Wars fans, but he’s only won at the maiden ranks and an N 1X. I’m not sure what happened to Masked last out, other than being out classed. Whatever it was, don’t look for much more today. 4 Soutache could be a shocker at 12/1. He’s cut back his last two outs, but ran well at this distance in the fall.
Race 3, Ogden Phipps Stakes, 1 1/16 Miles
4 w 3 w 5
4 Pacific Wind looks ridic. She hasn’t excelled at the stakes ranks, but looked good last out second off the layoff and trainer change. She’ll have Irad Ortiz on the mount again today, and the two seem to have hit off. 5 American Gal – I like her because she battled her last out, and fought even harder two back despite finishing fourth. I’m also keen on Tom Petty tracks. She’s a little shorter than I’d like at 3/1, but she’s a contender.
Conversely, 7 Unchained Melody lost her last out in a duel. 8 Berned doesn’t belong at this level. 3 Highway Star faces a very short turnaround, especially for a Grade 1 stakes. I can’t imagine their intention was to run her today, and I’ve gotta assume they think she’s gonna be live. She definitely worth an underneath play.
Race 4, Acorn Stakes, 1 Mile
3 w 2,4
3 Monomoy Girl is clearly the best here. Barring something erratic, she should run away with this. In order to make any loot, you’ll need to hit something big underneath. 2 Spectator at 8/1 and 4 Gio Game at 15/1 offer the best probability.
Race 5, Brooklyn Invitational Stakes, 1 1/2 Miles
When I was little and I got in trouble in school, I’d have to stay after school and collect all the blackboard erasers then go outside and clap them all together. As I inhaled endless clouds of chalkdust I recall thinking, “well, this is a rather unpleasant experience.” Now, 30 years later, I’m attempting to handicap a mile and a half on the dirt and I’m thinking, “this reminds me of gradeschool when I was inhaling endless clouds of chalk.”
2 Hoppertunity looks dangerous in this one. He had a crummy run last out, and really never cught his groove. He can go this distance, and is flexible enough to lead or press. I think the only way he’s gonna lose is if 8 Outplay gets out front. Outplay may be the only one who wants to get out front here. If he does, game over. If not, 9 War Story could put some pressure on Hopportunity, which would ultimately cripple them both and pave the way for 3 Hard Study. 3 Hard Study has been running at a much lower level, but you can’t deny his speed figures especially when he’s setting the pace the second half of the race. I don’t like 9 War Story coming off a layoff. 6 Backsideofthemoon is a tempting play at 30/1, but 5 Mills is much better play at those odds. He can go this distance and could surprise even the sharpies.
Race 6, Jaipur Invitational Stakes, 6 Furlongs (Turf)
I like 1 Stormy Liberal at first glance, but I’m leaning towards 4 Conquest Tsunami instead. The latter has shown better works recently, and I like his post position rather than the rail. He could wire this group. 5 Disco Partner will keep things interesting and potentially take over down the stretch.
Race 7, Woody Stephens Stakes, 7 Furlongs
There’s a lot of speed in this one, and I’m expecting hot fractions followed by a lot of front runners drifting back down the stretch. It will be interesting to see how 1 Madison’s Luna responds to returning to a sprint. He won the six furlong Hutcheson pulling away, but looked atrocious in the Pat Day Mile. 4 Givemeaminit is another contender cutting back to a sprint. It’s difficult to tell if his recent struggles were due to distance or class, but I’ll take a shot with him underneath at 30/1. 8 Kanthaka is a real contender that has thrived at this distance. All three of these colts like to press and should be well-positioned to make a push at the wire.
Race 8, Just a Game Stakes, 1 Mile (Turf)
4 w 3 w 7
This will be a fun race to watch, but unfortunately I’m not seeing a lot of value. For the most part, the chalk should cover the trifecta. I’m looking for 4 Lull to blow it out today. At 5/1 she’s a mild longshot. She prefers to press but can take the lead early if she needs to. 1 On Leave has the ability to take control and could do so from the rail, especially coming out of the shoot. But if On Leave hesitates, Lull may be inclined to take over. 3 Off Limits most likely will sit back and let the race unfold before she decides to turn it on. She may be a little too deep to pass before the wire, but will almost certainly land in the money. 7 A Raving Beauty is in the same boat, but I’m not convinced she’ll be able to pass many in this field. 8 La Coronel is better at longer distance and 7 A Raving Beauty only been in US for one race, I’d need to see more.
Race 9, Metropolitan Handicap, 1 Mile
10 w 8
I’m banking on 10 Bee Jersey to wire this group. He hasn’t run a lot in the States, but he’s looked fantastic in his last three outs. 8 Ransom the Moon is another somewhat sleepy contender. I’m hoping Bolt d’Oro takes a lot more money than he deserves, although I think at this point anyone who ever thought too highly of him has already been disappointed. 8 Ransom the Moon is a closer that will make his way into the mix down the stretch. I don’t see him as a contender, but he could land in the money depending on how much speed he sees in front of him. The same goes for 5 Good Samaritan – he belongs at a longer distance. I’m sure Ortiz will urge him early enough, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he settles himself too far back to make a push. 1 Mind Your Biscuits does not look good at this length, either.
Race 10, Woodford Reserve Manhattan Stakes, 1 1/4 Miles (Turf)
3 w 8,10 w 2
There’s been a bit of a buzz in the Twitter world revolving around the jockey upgrade on 8 Sadler’s Joy – Leparoux is off and Javier Castellano jumps on. You need to include 10 Beach Patrol in your exotics, but his payoff is too thin to play a win bet.
3 Hi Happy is hot. He took off the latter half of last year and switched barns. he’s now won his last two off a subsequent layoff putting up sick speed figures on long jaunts on the turf. He’s gradually cutting back to this distance off his layoff, and I should be ready to roll. I’ll single him in some of my Pick 4 tickets. 2 One Go All Go could likely set the pace and eventually fade. I think he may hold on to third or fourth, and will use him underneath in the tri and super.
Race 11, Belmont Stakes, 1 1/2 Miles
3,8 w 2,10
I can’t imagine anyone is looking at me for guidance in this one, so I’ll make it brief. One of two things are gonna happen – 1 Justify will win, or Justify will lose. He’ll win if he gets out front and nobody can catch him, which is the most likely scenario. He’ll lose if he’s contested early by a rabbit that will eventually die, and somebody picks up the pieces. Who that will be is a complete gamble. I’m going to single Justify in my Pick 4. T
To hedge, I’ll play an exacta box with 3 Bravazo and 8 Vino Rosso on top of 2 Free Drop Billy and 10 Blended Citizen.
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