05/15/2011 1:33PM

Back to Belmont


2:33 pm: It's already the third of eleven weekends of racing at the Belmont Park spring-summer meeting, which not that long ago did not even begin until the equivalent of this coming Wednesday, three days before the Preakness. This was the fourth straight year that Belmont opened in April, and I have yet to hear a single complaint; after six months of Aqueduct, most New Yorkers are more than ready, especially with those racinovations making Aqueduct look more like a construction site than usual this year.

Here's the Belmont spring-summer graded-stakes schedule, which includes four races that were not run last year: yesterday's Peter Pan, which was suspended for a year in 2010, its spot taken by the nw-back-to-July Dwyer; the Matron and Futurity, repositioned as early-July races since no one wants to run between the Hopeful/Spinaway and Champagne/Frizette; and the Poker.


There's a two-day $99k Pick-Six carryover starting in about half an hour and I'm going to be sacrilegious and either pass or play a $360 just-in-case caveman ticket. The sequence begins with three straight turf sprints in which I have little confidence; the fourth leg has the only potential single I can see in a 3-5 dropdown, and I can't see going skinnier than 3x5 in the final two races.

If I start using all the horses I think can win the turf sprints, now I'm looking at putting in over $1k and still singling a horse I'd never bet on at a short price, and if I back him up I'm getting up to $1500 for a $99k carryover. So I'll play small and Paleolithic:


If that doen't get it done, maybe we can get a three-day carry north of $300k into Wednesday.


4:30 pm: As it turns out so far, maybe I should have quadrupled the investment -- I'd be alive 3x5 if I'd started out 4x4 instead of 2x2, but geez -- spending $1440 to single Cravin Caden, who just galloped at 2-5 with a mile in 1:41.18? And if it chalks out, don't know that it's going to pay more than 2-to-5 on $1440. Can't see it carrying.

The upcoming $60k One Count Stakes is unusual and interesting: a rare 1 1/4-mile race on the main track, that drew both 2010 Belmont Stakes winner Drosselmeyer and Inherit the Gold, who won four straight at Aqueduct including the G3 Excelsior this winter before a wide trip over a sloppy track in the Charles Town Classic last month.

Drosselmeyer is one of only two horses in at least the last 20 years to receive a sub-99 Beyer Speed Figure while winning a Triple Crown race. (His Belmont got a lowly 94.) The other was Prairie Bayou, whose 1992 Preakness got a 98. Da Tara's 2008 Belmont got a 99 and Giacomo's 2005 Derby got a 100.


5:10 pm: "That was fun" was the way Tom Durkin finished his call of the Select, and right he was: Four of them slugged it out for the fifth quarter of the race before Drosselmeyer ($6.90) prevailed by a long neck over uncoupled stablemate Birdrun -- who let Drosselmeyer through on his inside on the stretch turn and then almost came back and beat him. Inherit the Gold was a close third after swooping four wide but hanging late. The winner's time was 2:06.07.

Pick-6's are paying better than I thought they would: Able Bellamy (#1) is the lowest at $2,852, the next five are between $4k and $11k, and two bombs are over $20k: Here Comes Vinny ($32k) and Prowler ($164k). Me, I'm alive for two consos that need to (and probably won't) pay $180 apiece to get my money back. Woohoo.


5:35 pm: Saved (some) money after all: Finale went to 11-1 Pin Number over 9-2 Southbeachsansy, neither of them among my quintet. Artie Luvsto Party was third with 32-1 Here Comes Vinny fourth to complete a $26k superfecta. The pick-6 paid $12,616 as Week 3 drew to a close.