A stellar day of racing is on tap at Belmont Park this Saturday and is highlighted by the Belmont Stakes. The Belmont Stakes is the final jewel of the Triple Crown and while we won’t have a Triple Crown winner this year, we’ll still have plenty of star-studded racing action between the Met Mile, The Manhattan, The Woody Stephens and a slew of other races. The weather should be picture perfect so let’s get started!
Belmont Park – Race 8 – The Woody Stephens (Grade 1)
The Woody Stephens drew a rock-solid field of 3-year-old sprinters in a field of 11 where Mind Control is a tepid 5-2 favorite. With an abundance of speed signed on, including Much Better, Complexity and Landeskog, I think Mind Control will sit the right trip from just off the pace and take over in mid-stretch. He’ll have to hold off closers like Borracho and Hog Creek Hustle, but Mind Control appears to have the class and I think he’ll be up to the task.
Belmont Park – Race 9 – The Runhappy Metropolitan Handicap (Grade 1)
In what appears to be the most star-studded field of the year thus far, the Met Mile ended up drawing a more competitive field than today’s marquee event – The Belmont Stakes. The field has 5 grade 1 winners of the 9 horses running. Coal Front, Mitole, Promises Fulfilled and Firenze Fire should be battling for the lead in what should be a TORRID pace.
The most interesting thing about this race is that it lacks a strong closer however I believe the two to beat will sit from just off the pace and pounce in the stretch. The betting public will be on McKinzie for Bob Baffert who toyed with a tough field at Churchill Downs on the day before the Kentucky Derby about a month ago but I’m looking at Dubai World Cup winner Thunder Snow to spring the mild upset at 6-1.
Thunder Snow might be the least respected horse currently racing today. He’s earned over $16 Million which is more than the entire field combined (a field that has 6 millionaires running) Thunder Snow’s not as quick as some of the sprinters in here but he’s got staying power and when the dust settles, he should have more gas left in the tank than most of these stretch-out-sprinters.
Belmont Park – Race 10 – The Manhattan (Grade 1)
The Manhattan is our main turf race of the day at 1 ¼ miles over the inner turf course. Bricks and Mortar is our 7-5 morning line favorite and will take some beating but he’s stretching out in distance from his previous two races. Chad Brown has owned the New York turf circuit for some time now and Bricks and Mortar is arguably his best but I’m taking a shot with another Chad Brown runner named Raging Bull (Fr).
Raging Bull (Fr) has put together a pretty impressive record of 5 wins from 9 starts with two sneaky good fourth place finishes in his two most recent starts. He gets a rider change to Javier Castellano and gets blinkers-on breaking from the rail. I have a feeling they’re going to send him and he’ll be tough to run down in the lane if they do.
Belmont Park – Race -11 – The Belmont Stakes (Grade 1)
While there’s no Triple Crown at stake this weekend, The Belmont Stakes still drew a competitive field of 3-year-olds that should put on quite a show. The Belmont Stakes is the longest of all the Triple Crown races and while some people think that automatically means closers have an edge, to the contrary, history tells us that the edge has gone to the horse who’s able to run the most consistent splits around the track.
More speeds and stalkers have won the Belmont than closers. Tacitus is our morning line favorite at 9-5 and War of Will is our close second choice at 2-1. War of Will won a weak running of the Preakness while Tacitus ran a troubled fourth in the Kentucky Derby in his most recent start.
This race reminds me a lot of the Wood Memorial back in April. A field somewhat lacking in quality all looking to make a name for themselves. And with most of the betting public focused on the two favorites, I’m going with the 1-2 finishers from April’s Wood to put on another show.
This time, I like Tax to turn the tables and upset the Belmont Stakes. Last year, Tax was claimed out of a Maiden Claiming race at Keeneland for $50k. Since then he’s earned close to $300k including a win in the Withers before finishing a game second to Tacitus in the Wood Memorial. Toss his sloppy track Kentucky Derby start and he’s never finished off the board.
Tax picks up Irad Ortiz – a positive rider switch to one of the top riders in the nation and what I like most of all is that he’s bred to run all day. Sired by Arch out of a Giant’s Causeway mare, Tax should have the staying power to be there at the end of 1 ½ miles. At 15-1 vs. the 9-5 on Tacitus, Tax is the value play.