09/10/2013 1:31PM

Belmont: DRF Plus handicapping report for September 11, 2013


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Race 1


Race 1 is a short field of five, but features two horses dropping out of Grade 1 tries at Saratoga, and they will square off against a recent maiden winner upstate who, in my opinion, may have graded stakes potential.  WEDDING TOAST (#1, 9/5) has to step up to face other winners for the first time here, but this 3yo filly by Street Sense put in the kind of effort going long at Saratoga that suggests she may be of some quality.  Stretching out from 6 ½ to 9 furlongs in her second career start, Wedding Toast got to the early lead, turned away a challenge coming to the stretch, and came through the stretch full of run in  posting a final 3/8ths in :36 seconds flat.  She’ll face tougher competition here as she cuts back to one-turn mile, but based on her last race, she might be pretty good, will have Lasix for the first time on Wednesday, and here’s a stat for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin via Formulator that shouldn’t be ignored: over the past 5 years with last out maiden winners stepping up to face allowance company in dirt routes he is 48% (13-for-27) with an ROI of $2.74.

She’ll have to beat CUE THE MOON (#3, 7/5) who is only 1-for-5 to begin her career, but has run in nothing but graded stakes races since breaking her maiden first time out at Saratoga last summer and now drops in to her available condition for the first time.  Based on her Beyer Speed Figures, Cue the Moon has improved as a 3yo, but I still think she’s a pretty difficult call here, especially at a short price.  Yes, her three races this year have come vs. the best fillies in the country (Princess of Sylmar, Midnight Lucky & Dreaming of Julia), but she has been beaten a combined 45 lengths in those 3 starts.  She appears to have trained well up to this, so this may just be a case of her getting the class relief she needs, but I think she may have hooked another talented horse here.

GALLOPING GIRAFFE (#2, 3/1) also drops out of a Grade 1 try for Todd Pletcher, and she has run well in each of her last three starts, but she is devoid of speed to this point in her career, and that figures to make things tough on her in this spot.

In the Pick 5, I’ll make Wedding Toast the “A” and use Cue the Moon only as a backup.

Closer Looks >>

Race 2


Race 2 is for 2yo maidens routing on the turf.  Trainer Chad Brown has entered two well-bred and expensive colts, and it may not be easy to oppose them.  Of the two, I prefer SHADOW BANKING (#7, 7/2) who brought $250k after breezing a furlong in :10.2 at Barretts March sale.  Shadow Banking is a full brother to Stormy Len, who has twice been graded stakes placed on turf this summer (and could easily have won either of those races with better trips), and is out of an unraced dam who is a full sister to the multiple Grade 1 turfer Dynaforce (who made over $1 million in her career).

Brown’s other horse is REQUEST (#1, 5/2) a $400k yearling purchase by Dynaformer, who attracted leading rider Javier Castellano.  It’s worth pointing out that Chad Brown likes to have his 2yo’s ready for the Saratoga meet, and they tend to win up there (he’s won with 11 first time starters on turf at Saratoga over the past 5 years, and is only 2-for-18 at Belmont over that span), but both of these horses were entered to run upstate on August 31st, only to scratch when the race came off the turf.  Because of that, I’ll assume they are ready and cover them both in the Pick 5.

The other firsters in the race are Shug McGaughey’s SOCIAL AFFAIR (#2, 5/1), a half-brother to Dancing Forever, who was a Grade 1 & 2 winner on grass for these connections a few years ago; and JOHNNY FOOTBALL  (#4, 8/1) by Colonel John and out of a dam who is a sister to the multiple graded stakes winning sprinter Richter Scale and to Outperformance, who was a Grade 3 winner on turf.  Either of these two horses are eligible to be runners, but they start for barns that tend not to have their first time starters cranked up – Shug, who is notoriously patient with his juveniles, is just 1-for-17 with 2yo’s debuting in turf routes over the past five years, and for the most past these horses go off at big prices and need a race; while Eoin Harty, the trainer of Johnny Football has debuted 86 2yo’s over the past five years, and none of them have won.

Tom Albertrani has the two interesting experienced runners in the field in DANAUS (#3, 12/1) who was green & outsprinted in his main track debut, but is bred for grass; and SMOOTHY DADDY (#5, 4/1) who acquitted himself well in a good race at Saratoga on July 27th.  Smooth Daddy will add Lasix and his experience edge shouldn’t be discounted. 

For Pick 5 purposes, I will focus my tickets on the Brown duo, along with Smooth Daddy, and will use the good-priced Danaus as a backup.

Closer Looks >>

Race 3


Race 3 is for low-level maiden claimers, and feels like a race to go small on the main ticket as it appears that DAPPER DRAPER (#5, 7/5) and MARKET BLASTER (#8, 7/2) have found the right kind of spot.  Market Blaster switches back to dirt for what is a huge class drop on this surface for him; he has bombed on turf in all three starts this year, but has never run for a tag on dirt before, and it should be clear when looking at the competition he faced as a 2yo that this is the easiest assignment he’s been handed in his life.

Closer Looks >>

Race 4


Race 4 is for NY-bred 2yo maidens going seven furlongs on turf, and is a pretty difficult race to play through with 12 entered, only one of which has run on turf before, and contains seven first time starters.  While I usually go for experienced runners whenever possible in baby races, I am done playing against Christophe Clement first time starters for the time being; since the beginning of the Saratoga meeting in July, Clement has won with 6 firsters on grass, and even managed to get a Bernardini filly to win her turf debut here last weekend – that’s enough for me, and makes EASY LIVING (#2, 4/1) an automatic use.  The other firster that interests me is MAYBRY’S FORTUNE (#9, 5/1) who attracted Javier Castellano for George Weaver. 

Of the experienced runners, I’m using LIL’ ZILLA (#8, 8/1) who exits a fairly weak-looking race over “good” turf upstate, but showed she showed some late interest in there after a slow start.  I’m somewhat surprised to see STAR GAZING (#1, 3/1) entered on turf for her second start, as this sister to the very good dirt horse Friend or Foe appeared to get an educational debut on the main track behind her impressive entrymate Artemis Agrotera (86 Beyer); she feels like an win pool underlay in her at the ML odds, but I’ll likely use her in the multi’s.

Closer Looks >>

Race 5


Race 5 Any analysis of this race should begin with HE’S SO CHIC (#3, 7/5), a 9yo win machine who is entered for the lowest claiming tag of his career after being vanned off the track when last seen on July 6th.  His best race makes him a very likely winner, if he can run it in this spot, though I would point out that he is a late-runner who is dependent on pace, which he may not get a ton of today.  I won’t recommend leaving him out of the Pick 5, but will also cover at least one more option.  That option is NON STOP (#7, 6/1) who I was looking forward to betting out of his last race where I thought he had some subtle trouble in the stretch – here are my notes, via Formulator:

in good trip keeping up behind lead throughout, edging out to clear midstr but winner was right there closing hard & intimidated him a bit, raced on

Non Stop was entered in a $20k claimer at Saratoga on August 25th, and was taking money in that field when he dumped jockey John Velazquez in the post parade and ran off, and had to be scratched.  I would have preferred that he retained Velazquez for this race, but he’ll be a better price with this rider up, and I still want to see what he can do back on dirt.

Live Longshot

BUCKEYE HEART (#4, 8-1): The only horse with a better last-out Beyer was vanned off the track when last seen July 6, but you’ll still get a square price on this stretch-running sprinter thanks to low-profile connections; ample pace up front.-Dave Litfin

Race 6

Closer Looks >>

Race 7

Closer Looks >>

Race 8

Vulnerable Favorite

Kind of an obvious horse to try to take a shot against, having been away since June of 2012 and with only a mild Beyer edge over a horse like FILM SHOT. He's certainly capable if he's able to run to his best races but there's a good chance he won't, and the price will be light. - Kenny Peck

Spot Play

BORDER SONG (#2, 6-1) regressed a few lengths in second stateside start; French filly gets the rail and Bravo with enough pace signed on and a favorite who’s been out of action for 15 months. Third start as 4yo and may be sitting on a career best. - Chuck Kuehhas

Closer Looks >>

Race 9

Spot Play

LOGAN STREET (#5, 5-1) was closing well in the late stages of that last one, despite some slow early splits and a quick final fraction; capable of making the last run given a clean trip and a better set-up. -Kenny Peck