Saturday brings a collection of graded stakes to fill out the undercard of the Belmont Stakes. This stakes run the gamut from 6 furlongs on the dirt to a mile and 1/4 on the turf. With this card, the end of the Triple Crown trail come about. It has a trail full of joy, pain and frustration. Let us go out with a victory!
Last blog, I wrote out my Belmont thoughts and selections here. Now, here are the other five stakes on the card, plus some thoughts on how to attack the $1,000,000 guaranteed pools. Let's start with the smallest field of the pick 6 and the 1st stake on the card.
Race 6 - Grade 2 Woody Stephens S. - 7 furlongs
This is a compact field of 5 that goes today. #1 Eightyfiveinafifty looks to be the quickest of the quick in here, but can he handle the pace pressure. #3 Discreetly Mine has a fair amount of speed, but might attempt to track just off of 85ina50. #5 D'funnybone is the selection because he will be just off the pace, harassing the leaders and then drawing clear late. The only horse i could see shocking the field is #4 Thank U Philippe. He will attempt to close into the expected fast pace, but he must answer the class question once again under new jock Garrett Gomez.
#4 Thank U Philippe
Race 7 - Grade 1 Just A Game Stakes - 1 mile (turf)
This field of 6, with 5 betting interests, has a strong favorite in #5 Proviso. Last out she beat males in the grade 1 Kilroe Mile at Santa Anita. But this blog likes the chances of two horses, both who are the part of the same entry, to pull the upset. #1 Cherokee Queen & #1a Speak East Gal ship up from South Florida for trainer Marty Wolfson. CQ will be sitting 3-4 lengths behind her stablemate, hoping to improve 2nd off the brief freshening after her win last time out. SEG appears to have a chance to steal this race gate to wire and at worse gives her stablemate a target to run at.
#1 Cherokee Queen / #1a Speak Easy Gal
Race 8 - Grade 2 True North Handicap - 6 furlongs
This blog was thrown for a loop this morning as the top selection, Custom for Carlos, was scratched moments before this blog went to post. This race has become an admitted scramble to us, and will probably force the hand in the multi-race exotics to be rather aggressive in the later races. #10 Gato Go Win tries dirt once again after two failed attempts. But this blog is willing to give him another chance due to the fact that the circumstances surrounding his two dirt starts probably hurt his chances. First, he was forced to audible into the Derby Trial after being scratched the morning of the Bay Shore due to his previous trainer's actions in the detention barn. Then, while being off for two months, he underwent a trainer change and then ran, in which something happened because he was off for 7 months after that. Now at 4, he has ran twice, has found a new rating gear and just missed out in the Grade 2 Portero Grande Hcp. last time out. Freshened, has been working well and drags Mike Smith across the country to ride him are all the reason this blog needs to see. #7 Elusive Warning ran well last time out at Delaware, gets his preferred distance of 6 furlongs and looks to try graded stakes company again. He brings a bullet drill in tow from the last work and looks to strike from just off the pace. Others with a shot are #3 Bribon, cutting back from his usual distance of a mile, #5 Snapshot, looking to improve 2nd off the layoff and #8 Checklist, who looks to wire this field.
#10 Gato Go Win
#7 Elusive Warning
Race 9 - Grade 1 Acorn S. - One Mile
For those of you who follow this blog, you know that I have been waiting, wanting, begging and pleading for #2 Tanda to run in this spot. Well, the adage be careful what you wish for rings true, as this is a tough field of 12 she has to contend with. Since Tanda's last win in the Railbird Stakes at Hollywood Park, she has worked well with the same 3 work pattern before her last start. She should have no problem with distance or the surface, but she does face some problems breaking from down on the inside. If she can overcome that and this cast, like I thing she will, she will get her picture taken. Three horses are the main danger. #8 Much Rejoicing is a lightly raced filly, with only two starts to he credit. Both were winning efforts, the works are steady and she retains jockey Alan Garcia. #6 Amen Hallelujah is cutting back in distance from her two failed attempts to go 1m & 1/8th. She get back to a better distance, looks to have bounced back okay with those works and picks up top jockey Ramon Dominguez, with Julien Leparoux on the sidelines with an injury. #5 Streaker is another who is lightly raced. She has a win over the track, is well-bred (a half to Pine Island) and appears to have a load of ability. It is rare for a Phipps Stable/McGaughey horse to win 1st time out, so the fact that she did proves she could be a star in the making. A horse she defeated two-back, Acting Happy, came back to win the Grade 1 Black-Eyed Susan.
#8 Much Rejoicing
#6 Amen Hallelujah
Race 10 - Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap - 1m & 1/4 (turf)
Last year's winner #1 Gio Ponti has returned from a good effort in Dubai to defend his crown. He has only worked twice since and this blog think he is a use on the tickets, but just barely. The top choice is #3 Pinckney Hill. This son of A.P Indy should sit just off the pace on the stretchout. He lost to horse-for-course Mambo Meister last time out in the Grade 3 Miami Mile, but that may have been at a less than optimum distance. PH has worked will in the interim ans is trained by the always dangerous Angel Penna. #2 Strike A Deal and #9 Just As Well are tow horses that this blog has a tendency to mix up. Both this veteran turf horses are coming into this race off finishing 1st & 2nd, respectively, in the Grade 2 Dixie last time out. SaD looks to move up off a top effort. He can stalk or be on the lead, but one wonders how much last time out took out of him. JaW comes into the race third off the layoff and looks primed for a good effort. He picks up jockey Kent Desormeaux with regular rider Leparoux on the sidelines. Other to consider are #8 Grand Couturier, #11 Expansion and the aforementioned #1 Gio Ponti, if only on back class alone.
#3 Pinckney Hill
#9 Just As Well
#2 Strike A Deal
To see the Belmont thoughts, click here.
This blog has been thrown for a loop with the scratch of Custom for Carlos, so the only suggestion i can make (besides singling Tanda) in the multi-race exotics is to take a stand on the horse you like the most and the horse you think will offer the most value. For this blog, that would be singling Pinckney Hill along with Tanda in the Pick 4. However, don't force the single. While i like the entry to pull the upset in the Just A Game, i wouldn't force the single there just so I can get beat by a favorite that i respect immensely.
So with that, i wish you all good luck, good betting and hopefully there will be a glory walk to the IRS window in your future.