09/11/2013 12:07PM

Belmont: DRF Plus handicapping report for September 12, 2013

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Race 1

Analysis

Race 1 Race 1 Think there are some favorites on this card that are vulnerable, but don’t know that HIERRO (#3, 8-5) is necessarily one of them. Hierro has always been cut out to be a nice horse, and while things haven’t gone perfectly for him through two seasons on the track, he has run some very good races, gets the one-turn mile just fine, and is the horse to beat in this race as he returns from a short layoff for Pletcher. If I take a shot against the favorite in the win pool, it will be with PRAETEREO (#1, 3-1). As a horse who has had some problems putting races together throughout his career, I’m taking the fact that this will be his third start off the layoff as a positive sign, and Praetereo has run well in each of his last two starts. Last out at this level, which was off the claim for Jacobson, Praetereo didn’t catch a very big pace and was really up against it trying to close. I’m unlikely to play him straight up if his entrymate (#1A CEASE) runs in this spot, as that will deflate the price, but at very least he’ll be part of my multi-race play. If the entry stays intact and goes off as an underlay, maybe TROILUS (#2, 6-1) can be given a chance to refind his good form from 2012. He’s been a disappointment so far in two starts this year, but he showed ability last year and if he’s over whatever issue(s) he had, he has races that make him very tough in this field.

Spot Play

Look at Mott barn’s ROI in pertinent categories. The one standing out is with layoff horses like BELLAMY BREW (#6, 5-1). Bettors consistently undervalue Mott comebackers because an extended break is not a negative for this outfit. This is a natural BEL miler & the draw looks ideal. - Marcus Hersh

 

Vulnerable Favorites

HIERRO's (#3, 8-5) reputation mainly rests on 2012 Derby Trial, & that was a long time ago. Two BEL tries were meh at best, and there’s depth to this field.- Marcus Hersh

 

Closer Looks >>

Race 2

 

Race 2

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Race 3

Analysis

Race 3 is another strong MSW for 2yo’s getting more ground, several of which ran well going shorter upstate and figure to appreciate the stretchout. I’ll just say that I get why GULITY VERDICT (#2, 2-1) might win this race, and I won’t be surprised when she does, but she feels like a horse with the potential to be a massive underlay off of a debut that, while useful, may be a little overrated. We’ll see how the betting goes, but if it is decided at the windows that Guilty Verdict can’t lose, I’ll be sure to take a shot against her. If nothing else, based on that race at Saratoga on August 4th, Guilty Verdict and JULIA TUTWILER (#6, 5/2) should be similar prices in this race. Yes, Guilty Verdict did appear to be a horse begging for more ground in that race after getting outrun early and closing ground late, and she did nail Julia Tutwiler for 2nd at the finish, but to me that wasn’t much separating them, and I don’t think handicapping this race is as easy as taking the two of them.

I don’t think MEI LING (#1, 5-1) ran any worse in her sprint debut that either of the two ML favorites did, and in fact, considering the fast pace that she encountered that day, may have run better. Mei Ling didn’t draw very well down on the rail, but she’s bred to stretch out for a top trainer and may be real value in this race.

DIVIDED ATTENTION (#4, 4-1) is also eligible to run better here for top connections after catching Sweet Whiskey, perhaps Todd Pletcher’s most impressive 2yo filly to debut at Saratoga – and there were a lot of them – and her pedigree suggests distance is what she wants.

Spot Play

Don’t know about you, but I haven’t seen many Empire Makers that have any interest in running 5.5 furlongs first time out. The Spa debut for MEI LING (#1, 5-1) looks like very useful practice for this stretchout. Blinkers on a big plus for this barn. Rail post not ideal, but the m / l price would make up for that. - Marcus Hersh

 

Closer Looks >>

Race 4

Spot Play

DUST EM MICK (#1, 4-1) added blinkers, returned to turf at SAR Aug. 21 and returned to form after a dull run in a race washed off the turf there prior. She bided her time in that 5 1/2f turf dash, swung out into the lane and finished strongly but just ran out of ground. Nice to see no drop and the extra furlong and a half should give her enough ground to flourish (so long as this stays on turf). -Michael Hammersly

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Race 5

Analysis

Race 5 I’ll take a little shot in this race with D J’s HOPE (#3, 10/1) hoping that he can be the speed of this race and be in early control. D J’s Hope hasn’t run since enduring a four-wide chase after a front-running even money favorite back on May 15, but if he’s ready off the layoff, they may be chasing him here, and to say I have little faith in the closers would be an understatement. THNXTOMYUNCLE (#2, 3/1) has figures from his last two starts on fast dirt which make him something of a stick out in here, but he never seems to win (7 second place finishes from 11 lifetime starts attest to that), and the ML favorite in here is a first time starter for Bruce Brown, who has gone 6-for-100 with first time starters over the past five years.

Vulnerable Favorites

Glitzy pedigree especially by NY-bred standards, but don’t see much else to like with ESCAPE TO THE MOON (#6, 5-2). Barn rarely wins with 1sters, & horse worked throughout SAR meet without starting. - Marcus Hersh

 

Race 6

Spot Play

DECEIVED (#9, 5-1) Lost all win chance when slow into stride debuting over sloppy track in short Spa sprint, but ran on very solidly to split field. The pedigree looks great for seven furlongs on turf, & he seems very likely to improve second time out. - Marcus Hersh

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Race 7

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Race 8

Spot Play

COMANDANTE (#7, 6-1) same ownership moves this 3yo colt to the Pletcher barn in an effort to straighten him out; sharp work with the blinkers off indicates this one may be prominent throughout.- Chuck Kuehhas

 

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Race 9

Spot Play

BULLET BABY (#10, 10-1) hasn't won since June of 2012 but she today returns to that same six furlong distance, which is what she seems to prefer; tactical speed should lead to a favorable trip. -Kenny Peck

 

Live Longshot

After two starts in 10 days at Presque Isle and Monmouth to begin her current form cycle, Fair Hill-based filly VILLANELLA (#3, 15-1) has posted a pair of bullet works for the return to Belmont turf, where she won twice from three starts last year. -Dave Litfin

 

Closer Looks >>