05/28/2011 12:40PM

Belmont: A 31-race Holiday Weekend


About 20 minutes until the first of 31 holiday-weekend races at Belmont Park, where the track is fast, the turf is firm, and the temperature's a summery 77 degrees. I was planning to go out for both today's Sheepshead Bay card and Monday's Met Mile program, but at the moment there's a plumber 10 feet away from me knocking holes in the home-OTB ceiling in search of an elusive leak. Guess I'd better start betting since it's going to take an ROI of $150 an hour just to break even today. 

Here are the lineups for the three cards, and a little breakdown of how the 31 races shake out in terms of surface, distance and race type:


It looks like NYRA's going to get away with carding 16 grass races  over the three days with nothing more ominous than "partly cloudy" in the forecasts but there's already some course-switching going on: today's 8th and 10th races have been moved from the inner to the Widener, and the featured Sheepshead Bay has been switched from the Widener to the inner.

The all-turf late pick-4 on races 7-10 carries the usual Saturday $300k guarantee. There's a $30,132 Pick-6 carryover to start the weekend. Maybe we can get that to carry until tomorrow or even Monday. If I were playing today, I'd have to go deeper than the two obvious favorites, 2-1 Hibaayeb and 5-2 La Luna de Miel. Hibaayeb is the field's lone Grade 1 winner, and makes her second start of the year off a useful prep, but that was a shaky field she beat in last year's Yellow Ribbon and she may be an underlay here. La Luna de Miel beat Giants Play twice in Florida but had better set-ups both times.

The wild card is Cheetah, Christophe Clement's third entrant (along with Giant's Play and Tarrip). She's a Euro import with an odd career record of 3 for 3 on poly and 0 for 4 on turf, but this will be her first U. S. turf start and she's eligible to move forward in her second start of the year.

Or maybe it's just that plumber's hammer driving me to look for prices.