06/05/2009 6:52PM

Belmont Eve

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It's a dark and stormy Belmont Eve here on Long Island. Saturday's 12th and 13th races at Belmont have already been taken off the turf, but the two Grade 1 grass races will stay there and if the forecast for overnight clearing holds up, so will the 4th and 5th, allowance races with full fields.

Those two races will be especially worth watching closely to see just how soft the turf course, which hasn't been used since Wednesday, really is. While it's entirely possible the main track will be fast by mid-afternoon, the turf can't recover that quickly from two days and nights of of sporadically heavy rain.

Click here for the hour-by-hour forecast and here for the latest comments from Belmont officials. NYRA has also added a "Turf Course Update" button on the right-hand column of its homepage, where a status report will be posted Saturday morning.

Friday's five grass races were all rained onto the main track. Upsets in the Hill Prince (Against the Odds at $17.20) and the Brooklyn (Eldaafer $34.20) prompted a $48,496 carryover into the all-stakes Belmont Day pick-6 -- coals to Newcastle for what is already guaranteed as a $1 million pool.

Here are the lineups for the six graded stakes, including four Grade 1's, on the Saturday card:

I went with Mine That Bird, Dunkirk and Summer Bird as my 1-2-3 published picks for the Belmont. I'll be shocked if Mine That Bird really goes off as high as his 2-1 morning line (Mike Watchmaker made him 8-5 on his DRF line), but hope I don't have to bet him to win: The plan is to get alive to him in the pick-6 and pick-4 at an effectively higher price. I'll primarily use Dunkirk and Summer Bird as backups and a little bit of Charitable Man, defensively.

I've got miles to go handicapping the rest of the card, and will post a revised version of the above chart on Saturday morning with preliminary ABC grades and some comments. After that, you're on your own: I'm spending the day at the races, and will be back here Sunday to review it all. If you're playing from home, there's ESPN coverage from noon to 5 pm, and then ABC takes over from its sister company from 5 to 7 pm.

Update 8:20 pm: The Brooklyn-Belmont doubles are up and I doubt they're precisely accurate predictors of tomorrow's win odds given the upset Brooklyn victory by 16-1 Eldaafer; with $483,689 in the pool, we're really just talking about how roughly $25,000 in "live" tickets was allocated. For what they're worth, here's what they're paying and what win odds those payoffs translate to:

mark C More than 1 year ago
Unitas, you hit the nail on the head. I couldn't have put it any better. New York rewards incompetence by giving NYRA a blank check. The federal government could not do a worse job running racing than NYRA.
george quinn More than 1 year ago
I thought the day overall had it's share of surprises and some clunkers. Court Vision needs to keep touch with the field if he ever wants more than a slice. It really might be time for a jockey change there. Justwhistledixie was without a doubt the biggest clunker in my eyes because of how highly she was thought of. So she is overated or any race with Racheal Alexandra becomes a key race and Gabby's Golden Girl was overlooked. I feared Summer Bird but how much can you spread. I took a stand with Dunkirk and felt as if he ran a nice race but just got beat. The eye popper was almost a million dollars for the pick 6. Steve I hope you put a syndicate together and brought it down. But with an x in your grid next to Diamondrella, I doubt it. I think payoffs in the big race seemed a little short but hat's off to the winner. George in Tampa
Keith Longey More than 1 year ago
There has been a lot of pace handicappers who want this race to run like last year, with a Zito on the lead; or a repeat of the Peter Pan, with a catbird trip ride by Garcia.It ain't gonna happen, folks. Dunkirk's and Charitable Man's people have it all hanging out for the Big Black Type here to make their stud careers happen. Two agressive jocks, Garcia and JR Valesquez are gonna mix it up a lot sooner than most would think, and that sets it up for Chocolate Candy and Mine That Bird as the best closers. Summer Bird is the Wise Guy horse here, and Flying Private is my vote for "Bud Longshot of the Day" by the Will Pays. Good Luck, all...safe racing!
Unitas More than 1 year ago
Just want to throw something out there for the Belmont regulars who live near the track, especially those patrons who live in Nassau County...Stay away from the track today. Yes, even though it's Belmont day, the weather is supposed to be spectacular(it is beautiful right now @ 8:40AM) and the card is the best assembled one we will see all year at Big Sandy, stay home. Hit NYRA right where it hurts, in the wallet. With NYRA having no regard for it's fans in Nassau County by cutting off the track feed(distributed by Nassau County OTB) to their homes while they attempt to settle a dispute with Nassau County OTB in regard to illegally sending the NYRA signal to out of state patrons(or so I am to believe), let's show NYRA we're not happy with the way they are going about resolving their differences. I attend the Belmont Stakes EVERY year(since my first one in 1980, Temperence Hill with Eddie Maple aboard besting Derby winner Genuine Risk), however this year I think it is important to take a stance against the much maligned and arrogant officials who "run" NYRA(actually ran NYRA into bankruptcy, I hope most remember), who have never given a darn about their fan base. I believe NYRA looks at all racing fans as degenerates, who have the "need"(addiction) to play the horses everyday, and will put up with everything thrown their way in order to get their "fix". With the economy still in dire straits, and horse racing jurisdictions doing poorly across the globe, you would think NYRA would do whatever is in their power to accomodate their dwindling fan base, make things easier for the fans to enjoy the races at the track or from the comfort of their homes, yet, incredibly this organization(which was just given a 25 year extension to govern racing in NY!) does absolutley nothing for it's fans, and I believe today should be the day to show the suits at NYRA that we are fed up and will not accept their borish behavior anymore. I will not even play the card today, that's just me. To all who go to the Belmont today, or who play from home or at an OTB, good luck, go get your pokets fat today!
Saratoga_Mike More than 1 year ago
Kudos to NYRA for the turf status link on their website.
william baker More than 1 year ago
i think that hollendorfer will finally get the respect that he deserves ,remember lite light and pike place dancer .i think he is due to strike again
steven_crist More than 1 year ago
upstate_joe: You're right. The lower takeout on non-carryover days has not done anything to stimulate the pool and only makes it feel like you're getting rooked in a situation like this. But rather than grinding your teeth, think of it this way: The lower takeout was designed to stimulate business on days when the pool's going to be small, not for situations like this. george_quinn: I don't think the track will be similar to the one at the Derby, when it was raining for much of the day. There's not supposed to be a drop of rain past the early morning tomorrow.
UpstateJoe More than 1 year ago
Steve, I think I asked you this question a few years ago, back the first year you started it at Saratoga, but I forgot the answer. Due to the caryover into the Pick 6 it actually COST the winners since the takeout has increased from 16% to 26%? (10% extra takeout on 1,000,000) 100,000 - 48,496 = AT LEAST 51,504 less to be paid out? Correct? Thanks, and good luck! -UpstateJoe
repo man More than 1 year ago
I find it more accurate to use the will pays from the fav than a long shot winner. Using the will pays from Rising Moon indicates these likely odds: The horses you've shown as double digits will go off significantly higher. MTB & Charitable Man will be 2-1 co-favs. Candy, Dunkirk, and Sucker Bird will be close to the odds you've shown.
ponyman More than 1 year ago
Dunkirk