09/26/2013 1:07PM

Belmont: DRF Plus handicapping report for September 27, 2013

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Race 1

 

Race 2

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Race 3

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Race 4

Vulnerable Favorite

WILLET (#6, 1-1) is superior to these minor-stakes foes in mud but not on dry, and this distance is slightly longer than her best. - Marcus Hersh

 

Spot Play

Four-time BEL winner MISS VALENTINE (#1, 4-1) nowhere near her best last out at SAR, & that will drive price up favorably in this spot. She ought to rebound. - Marcus Hersh

 

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Race 5

Spot Play

FRAZIL (#7, 8-1): The 7-year-old gelding is winless since 2011, but may be sitting on an improved effort as he returns quickly off a muddy sprint last Saturday, and stretches out for his third start of the year; he has won five of seven starts at today’s distance.- Dave Litfin

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Race 6

Spot Play

BELLE OF THE WEST (#7, 5-1) has never been worse than fourth and comes off a pair of seconds on grass; offers betting value with a low-profile rider up. – Byron King

Race 7

Spot Play

AESTHETIQUE (#2, 8-1)  ran quite well to get 2nd in Spa debut considering she blew the break and raced from last on a fast-playing course carrying speed. The extra half-furlong only helps, but might get bet well below M/L odds.- Marcus Hersh

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Race 8

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Race 9

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Race 10

Race 10 has a lot going on, with a few interesting claims, some drop downs, a little pace (on paper, at least) and several win candidates. Because of all that, it feels like a good race to avoid the short prices on the board, an outlook that covers both coupled entries in the race NOTMYFIRSTIME /WRITININGONTHEWALL (#1-1A, 5-2) and BUG JUICE/KARAKORUM LEGEND (#2-2B, 3-1). We’ll see if all four of them run; if they do they are all logical win candidates, but are also at least a little dressed up based on recent efforts. Linda Rice’s pair of Bug Juice & Karakorum Legend both exit winning efforts with soft trips (Bug Juice on the main track upstate; Karakorum Legend while facing cheaper down here two months ago). I can easily be against them, but the other entry, sent out by David Jacobson, is a little tougher to get a read on. That’s mostly due to the presence of Notmyfirstime, who is first off the claim after a pair of decent turf sprint efforts upstate, and picks up Castellano for this. Notmyfirstime projects to land in a pretty good tracking trip here, and while I prefer him to the classy and consistent Writingonthewall (who, like Big Juice, exits a win on the main track with a soft front-running trip) the presence of that horse only hurts his price. The two horses that most interest me in this spot are MAJESTIC RAFFY (#7, 9-2) and, especially, BARREL OF LOVE (#6, 8-1). Both are dropping in class and cutting back to the distance of their seasonal debuts, in which they finished a couple lengths apart in 5th & 6th, but I’m hoping the cut back to seven-furlongs will help Barrel of Love the most, and he will be the better price, so that’s going to be the play. Barrel of Love was always a horse who had trouble finding the winners circle (he was 1-for-20 heading into 2012), but he suddenly found himself as a 5yo, winning 3-of-6 starts, and he was particularly impressive in a pair of turf sprint wins here last summer.

On June 12th, going six furlongs off the layoff, Barrel of Love was coming with a big run from off a fast pace when he was stopped cold in midstretch while trying to split horses, but he managed to pick himself up and close gamely at the end to nail Next Question, who would go on to become a Grade 1 winner a couple of months later. After stretching out in distance a couple of times at Saratoga, he returned to Belmont with a cut back to this distance and promptly closed down a solid field with a strong finish (including a couple of today’s rivals).

There appears to be enough pace signed on here to set up his late run, and because he figures to be the best price on the board, I’ll take Barrel of Love on top, and use him with Majestic Raffy, Isn’tlovejustgrand (#3, 15/1) who has competitive races and is first off the claim by the underrated Mitch Friedman, and a little Dehere of the Cat (#5, 6/1) who is first time turf with a little pedigree, and exits a couple of races upstate where he was badly compromised by race flow.

Spot Plays

MAJESTIC RAFFY (#7, 9-2) fits the race flow nicely here, unlikely in his last couple, when he was caught behind tepid fractions; expected quick splits should move him up today. -Kenny Peck

 

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