09/06/2013 2:26PM

Belmont Analysis for Saturday, September 7th, 2013


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Saturday is not only opening day of the prestigious Fall Championship Meet at Belmont Park, which runs for 37 days through October 27th, and features 21 graded stakes events, but it will also mark the debut of an interesting new addition to the NYRA wagering menu – a $0.50 Pick 5 which will encompass races 1-through-5 each day, and feature a 15% takeout.  I thought that new wager would be an appropriate place to start this new DRF Plus feature, in which we will take a closer look at some of the more interesting races, or sequences of races, on a given card.  The focus will not be to give out specific selections, or to simply give an analysis of the races straight out of the past performances looking to pick winners, but rather to discuss the races more in depth with a focus on things like wagering strategy; vulnerable favorites; horses that are perhaps either better or worse than they may appear to be on paper and, as such, could be horses to lean on – or leave completely out - in a multi-horse or multi-race play. 

As with any new venture, especially one that was conceived only very recently, this is still a work in progress, and could still evolve into something slightly different, so as we move along my hope is that there will be plenty of outside participation.  If you have a suggestion as it pertains to content, or an idea regarding something that isn’t being covered that you would like to see more of, I’d love to hear it.  And, of course, since we will be focused on playing the races in this space, there should be plenty of handicapping and wagering opinions (before the races only, please) coming my way.  For those interested in doing so, I’m assuming there is a comment section somewhere on the page – otherwise, here you go: mbeer@drf.com

Thanks for checking us out, this should be interesting.  Now let’s get to work…


Race #1 kicks off the Pick 5 and features a 2/1 ML favorite in Chad Brown’s ZIVO who I will be looking to beat.  There is nothing to specifically knock about Zivo, who has run well enough in all 6 career starts to date and can certainly win this race as he makes his second start off of a long layoff.  He just feels like a horse that will be overbet in a race where he faces more than one rival who may simply be better than him (figure-wise, at least, Zivo is one of the slowest horses in the field).  In lieu of taking an underlaid price on Zivo I will focus my multi-race tickets on two horses: the #1 GO GET THE BASIL and the #4 BAKE SHOP.  Go Get the Basil has run a pair of 90+ Beyer’s this year, and while those figures may not completely stand up to scrutiny, they are surrounded by four stakes races which do not offer conclusive proof that he in fact isn’t that kind of horse; he was over his head in both the Gr1 Wood Memorial and the Gr2 Peter Pan, and exits a pair of NY-bred stakes tries with viable excuses:  he caught a sloppy track in the NY Derby, and to say he never got a fair chance to contend in the Albany Stakes last time would be an understatement – wide into the first turn, then buried behind horses and ultimately steadied out of contention in a race that saw the top 3 finishers go around the track in that order all the way.  Bake Shop exits a seven furlong sprint at Saratoga from which Zivo and three other horses in here also emerge.  That race featured an extremely moderate pace which compromised everyone trying to rally from out of it.  The reason there was such a slow pace in there is because Bake Shop, who figured to be one of the speeds, hit the gate at the start and got away last in the field.  He did well after that to work his way into contention before ultimately falling a neck short, with Zivo a head behind in 3rd.  In this race, assuming a clean break, Bake Shop figures to be one of the main speeds, and he has run several races since switching to this barn that make him tough.  Backups in the multi-race bets for me would be #5 SMOOTH BERT, who may be better on a wet track, but should appreciate turning back in distance and is a speed in this race; and #6 QUIET POWER, another who was compromised by the pace scenario in that August 4th race.

Closer Looks >>

Race #2 features several horses who squared off a couple of different times upstate, and in taking those two races in, I have to think that #4 MY UPTOWN GAL is the one to beat in this race.  After falling short by the slimmest of noses at a big price in a very strong race on opening day, she then got a couple of trips that I will be forgiving of, since she was racing on down inside through the stretch both times.  She projects for a much better trip this time and will be very tough if she runs that July 19th race again in this spot.  I bet Ave’s Halo both times she ran upstate and could find no excuse for her after a couple of very good trips at fair prices; she will be much shorter on Saturday, and can win, but I am a little sour on her now.  Instead, I will use her uncoupled stablemate #8 UNCLE SOUTHERN, who is eligible to improve in only her second start as a 3yo, and could play out as the main speed in here.  #6 BONATINI is also interesting going first off the claim for dangerous connections and cutting back to a sprint, which I believe is her best game.

Closer Looks >>

Race #3 could be the key to the Pick 5, especially for smaller budgets, since the #1 BLITHELY appears to be very tough to beat.  Blithely ran very well on her debut to come up just short in what has become a very live race (winner Con Gee has since come back to run 2nd in a Delaware stakes race, and both the 4th & 5th finishers returned to win next out with big Beyer improvements).  I guess the rail draw might be of some concern, but she ran well enough to win the majority of these races first out, and will be tough to down if running as well here.  First time starter #2 Longride to Wisdom has pedigree as the first foal from a stakes winning dam, and it’s interesting that John Velazquez takes the mount, but she starts for a trainer who has won with just 2 of 93 first time starters over the past 5 years, and none since 2009. 

Closer Looks >>

Race #4 I didn’t find anything that interesting in here that wasn’t already on the page, and it may just come down to trips with not much separating the main contenders.  I have my questions regarding ML favorite RAGING DAOUST, but can’t see any way to leave him out of a multi race play and will use him in equal strength with the #2 SACRED GROUND and the #5 ITSAGOODTENDOLLARS

Closer Looks >>

Race #5 If I get this far in the Pick 5, I would be happy to have the #3 JUMPINOFFTHEEDGE (significant class drop & has speed); #7 START JUMPING, who really ran (wet track or not) off the claim by sharp connections last time, and now moves to another sharp barn; and the #8 PASS THE PICO and take my chances.  The slight ML favorite is #5 Cool Under Fire, and while I get why he might win this race, I thought he could get outrun early in here and want to see a race from him in NY.

Closer Looks >>
6 Race #6 Closer Looks >>

Live Longshots:

BIKINI BEAUTY (#2, 8-1) This juvenile filly is unveiled by Christophe Clement, who sent out five debut turf winners at Saratoga, all at 4-1 or better. She is out of a dam who won six grass races, topped by the Grade 2 Las Palmas. - Dave Litfin

MISS SUPER QUICK (#10, 5-1) barn's propensity with second time starters been a long time strength; Dutrow places this Rock Hard Ten filly on turf for the first time and should be rolling late. - Chuck Kuehhas

Closer Looks >>

Graded Stakes Hit
The opening day feature is the Grade 2 Bowling Green, and #1 Boisterous is the horse to beat.  I think there are at least some questions surrounding Boisterous in this spot, even as he comes back to his favorite track and gets a cut back in distance that I believe he needs.  Even with the distance excuse, however, it is a little troublesome that Boisterous ran as poorly as he did in the Sword Dancer last time.  He seemed to get a perfectly clean trip while kept out in the clear, was in contention at the top of the stretch, and was outfinished by everyone with a pulse in the stretch.  He did run a similarly weak race in the Sword Dancer back in 2011, and bounced back immediately when returned to Belmont for his next start, so perhaps it’s just as simple as that, but at a short price I am at least a little leary of him.  The most likely upsetters are #4 HYPER and #6 FINNEGANS WAKE, and I have no big argument against them, but I was more interested in using the #3 LONDON LANE as my backup to Boisterous.  London Lane got a well-timed ride to upset the Colonial Turf Cup (and Hyper) at 50/1 two starts back, but I thought he ran a deceptively good race in the Sword Dancer without a good trip at all, and he is a horse that goes off at one good price after another in his races.  I would still lean on Boisterous in the multi’s, but London Lane will be my other horse, and I will use him in exactas with the favorite, as well.  

Closer Looks >>

Vulnerable Favorites:

GRIFFIN ROCK (#7, 5-2) yes, his last couple of turf figures are faster than what most of these have run; but this 5yo is 0-25 on the turf and 1-40 lifetime so you just have to play against this one. - Chuck Kuehhas

Closer Looks >>
10 Race#10 Closer Looks >>