09/18/2013 11:21AM

Belmont: DRF Plus handicapping report for September 19, 2013

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Race 1

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Race 2

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Race 3

Spot Play

MOON PHILLY (#3, 6-1) has had excuses for each of her four starts since returning from the layoff: a bumping incident at the break last time, a slow start two back, against a speed bias three back and a slow start and premature bid in her return from the break; dangerous if/when she finally puts it all together. –Kenny Peck

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Race 4

Analysis

EVASIVE CAT (#7, 10-1) was defeated when dropped in for a $20k tag last out at Saratoga, but she emerged as a horse to follow after ‘beating the race’ as they say, despite not getting the winner’s share of the purse. Evasive Cat had good speed from her inside post that day, and went on with it to make a strong pace while pursued by a pair of challengers, including the 6/5 favorite in the race, Gritty Gal . She put her pace rivals away (they would ultimately finish 6th & 7th), but paid the price for her early exertions and couldn’t hold off a perfect trip closer at the end. Claimed by sharp connections out of that improved effort, Evasive Cat steps up to face $35k competition and there does appear to be plenty of other speed in this race, which is more of a concern than the hike up in class, but she moves to an outside post which should allow her rider some options, and at anything like that 10/1 ML price, I’ll wager that her better-than-it-looks effort at Saratoga, which was second back off of a long layoff, makes her the value of the race.

Race 5

Analysis

Race 5 is the $100k Spite the Devil Stakes, for NY-breds going a one-turn mile on the main track. READTHEPROSPECTUS (#3, 2-1) is the ML line favorite on the strength of his six-race win streak for top trainer Chad Brown.

Readtheprospectus isn’t a flashy horse, and there is nothing eye-catching about his races, but all he does is win, and it is worth nothing that he needn’t carry his track with him, as he shows recent wins on turf, on both fast & sloppy tracks, and around both one-and-two turns. The question with this horse, especially at a short price, is: where has he been since June 1st? The second choice on the ML line if Bob Baffert’s BRIGAND (#5, 5-2) and while Brigand has run some good races in the past, and can certainly win this race, I’m happy to play against him at any kind of short price. Brigand faced superior competition in his return from about a four month layoff up at Saratoga, but he got a very good trip that day and was ultimately no match for those horses. He’s also been at his best when on the lead and when going shorter (at least in my opinion) so as he tries to get the mile here in a race that is not lacking in other speed, I’ll let him beat me.

I’ll mention the NIGHT MANEUVER (#1, 4-1) has been in very sharp form over the past few months, and put up a pair of very fast races sprinting when returned from a short layoff in June, but he also is questionable going this far, and didn’t draw well on the rail with speed to his outside.

I like ZETTERHOLM (#2, 10-1) in this race, and am betting that he goes forward as he cuts back a bit while making his second start off of a long layoff. Zetterholm obviously got good as a 3yo in Richard Dutrow’s barn, reeling off three straight impressive wins before trying his luck in open graded stakes company. In his first start back this year, he was asked to go a demanding distance at Saratoga, and showed enough in that tough spot to make me think that he can still run – he are my notes for that race via Formulator:

Zetterholm rated the break & saved ground off pace early, picked up winners cover thru the second turn and followed him comfortably, bumped by runnerup top stretch, tired final furlong, short

I’m betting that Zetterholm will improve with that conditioner under his belt, and it is encouraging that he has worked three times since that race, including a bullet 5f here last week, which suggests all is well.

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Race 6

Analysis

Race 6 is a seven-furlong turf sprint with Alw/Optional Claiming conditions for NY-bred fillies & mares. I very much respect horses like KARAKORUM ELECTRA (#6, 10-1), who has won 13 times in her career, including 11 times over Belmont turf, and the lightly raced PALACE DREAMS (#9, 7-2) who has run well in all 4 career starts and is also a winner over this track/trip, but I like JITNEY (#7, 4-1) in this race, and will lean on her in multi-race wagers (I don’t expect her to be much value in the win pool, though I’m usually wrong when trying to predict final odds). Jitney has spent most of her 4yo campaign sprinting on dirt, but she may be at her best on grass, and I think she confirmed that last out at Saratoga when coming with a good run to be 2nd best to the streaking Subtle (earned a 90 Beyer for that 8/23 win, which was her third straight, and then finished a good 2nd in a $200k stakes next out, with a 93 figure). ML favorite NECK OF THE MOON (#4, 3-1) has been heavily favored in all three career starts, and hasn’t done anything wrong in winning two of them, but she’s a horse you have to bet against if she is indeed the favorite at post time.

Spot Play

DOUBLE THE ENERGY (#1, 8-1) comfortably won at this level & comparable distance over BEL course about 11 months ago. Pair of Spa starts post-comeback perhaps not representative.- Marcus Hersh

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Race 7

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Race 8

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Race 9

Spot Play

ALARMED NDANGEROUS (#6, 6-1) comes off a new top in her latest at Saratoga, and seems likely to move forward third time off a layoff. – Byron King

Live Longshot

Steady pattern of improvement this year for STATUS OF FORCES (#4, 20-1) culminated with an N1X allowance win July 6, and a rallying fifth Aug. 5 when beaten less than a length by today’s morning-line favorite Sneaky Kitten. Against a strong inside speed bias on the Spa’s inner course Aug. 28. -Dave Litfin

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Race 10

Spot Play

MANHATTAN KITTY (#6, 15-1) can make a case for this second time starter if she’s over her ML; debut was won by subsequent double repeater, she showed speed into the lane before being slammed by rival while tiring, and low profile conditioner (who trains for Akindale, where she trained last month over the wood chips) does a decent job with her limited stock.- Chuck Kuehhas

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