It’s opening weekend at Belmont Park and with the Kentucky Derby happening next week, we’re light on the stakes action across the country, so we’ll focus on some decent enough looking races at beautiful Belmont Park.
Belmont Park – Race 4 – Maiden Special Weight
Normally I wouldn’t pick a field full of New York bred maidens to focus my attention on but this one features a first-time starter by the name of Riot that I think may have a bright future. Riot is by precocious sire City Zip out of a Distorted Humor mare and is trained by Jeremiah Englehart who’s winning at a 22% clip this year. He employs Jose Ortiz to ride and together they win at 33%.
I think Riot wins wire to wire. I like Lookbothways to finish second at a price as he showed some nice closing speed in his debut race. He will be overlooked since his last race looks bad, but he had a troubled start.
Belmont Park – Race 8 – Maiden Special Weight
This race is carded on the grass at 1 1/16th miles but there’s rain in the forecast and if we get that rain I like Hizaam to spring a mild upset. Hizaam is trained by Chad Brown and ridden by Manny Franco who’s having his best year yet. Hizaam is bred to handle the off-track and cost a pretty penny. He finished up the track in his only start where Erlich broke first and never looked back. I look for a much-improved performance from Hizaam today.
Belmont Park – Race 9 – The Elusive Quality Stakes
Our only stakes race on the card drew a solid field of older turf sprinters and while there are several local hard-knockers who stand more than a puncher’s chance, I like a Euro named Emmaus (IRE) to upset the applecart for trainer and part-owner Conor Murphy. Emmaus appears to have been running against better overseas and Conor Murphy is winning at a 20% clip with his North American shippers. Jose Ortiz is slated to ride as this one should be closing from the clouds and should appreciate some give in the turf course. I like longshots Abiding Star and Fixed Point (both speedy types) to fill out the exotics here.
Belmont Park – Race 10
The card finishes with a claiming race that should offer some value. While this race features an abundance of speed, those speeds are all listed as the morning line favorites and I’m going to avoid playing those as I’m expecting them to burn one another out on the front end.
Instead, I’m going with a longshot named Altesino for trainer James Bond. Bond is winning at a scorching 32% this year and employs Junior Alvarado to ride. Together they’re connecting at an outstanding 71% win rate. At 12-1 on the morning line, I’m a big fan of Altesino. Second, I like Change of Venue at 5-1. He should also be coming from off the pace and again the price is reasonable on him.