06/24/2013 4:25PM

Belmont Park: $248K carryover card anchored by Lion Cavern Stakes

Barbara D. Livingston
Hardened Wildcat (above) faces Big Business and Strapping Groom in the Lion Cavern.

After going unhit Saturday and Sunday, a two-day, $248,140 pick-six carryover awaits bettors Wednesday at Belmont Park, with a nine-race card highlighted by the $100,000 Lion Cavern, an overnight stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs.

Six older sprinters entered the Lion Cavern, carded as race 8 and thus the next-to-last leg of a pick six that gets under way with race 4 at 2:38 p.m. Eastern.

The familiar refrain “pace makes the race” will figure prominently in the Lion Cavern, because Hardened Wildcat, the slight 2-1 morning-line favorite over Big Business, is a late-runner in a short field without much early speed.

Hardened Wildcat burst on the scene early in his 3-year-old season, winning three in a row on Aqueduct’s inner track for Chad Brown, capped by a last-to-first score in the Fred “Cappy” Capossela Stakes.

Freshened after four subsequent defeats, Hardened Wildcat returned in April to garner his third-level allowance condition with a 101 Beyer Speed Figure.

In his next and most recent start, Hardened Wildcat trailed by a dozen lengths early in the Grade 3 Maryland Sprint Handicap and finished strongly to wind up a clear second behind Sage Valley, who was notching his fourth straight win.

[PICK SIX CARRYOVER: Get Belmont Park past performances]

“He was a little far behind, but that’s him,” Brown said. “He’s a come-from-behind sprinter. He made his move . . . we were just second best.”

On paper, Hardened Wildcat’s two main foes are Big Business and Strapping Groom, who are uncoupled for leading trainer David Jacobson.

Jacobson shook off a mild slump with a five-win weekend that extended his lead over Brown to 34-21. His just-claimed Strapping Groom is in position to dictate the pace, following a sharp try to just miss first time out in nearly 11 months.

Big Business has compiled a gaudy 7-3-0 slate from 10 starts on the circuit, including a sweep of his four starts at Belmont. He lugged in noticeably through a hard-fought victory June 2.

Leave of Absence and Smash, who dead-heated under third-level allowance conditions May 31, knock heads again. Saturday’s Charm, a no-factor fourth behind those two as the favorite, can contend if he rebounds from a nose loss in the Tom Fool Handicap two starts ago.

Assuming Mother Nature’s continued cooperation, the pick six is a manageable 6x8x8x10x6x10 as follows:

Fourth race: Cay to Pomeroy is the one to catch and beat if he runs to his first race as a gelding June 8, but he has yet to run two good races in a row. Longfor the City must cope with faster fractions advancing from an off-the-turf maiden win in the mud.

Fifth race: Crackerjack Jones, second at 4-5 in his May 4 unveiling, looms a likely single and the shortest price on the card for Mike Hushion, the meet’s top percentage trainer at 10 for 30 (33.3 percent).

Sixth race: Casting a wide net may be necessary to snag the winner of this optional claimer for New York-bred fillies and mares on grass. Lady’s Lunar Luck, Schillerette, and Wholelottashakin seem the likeliest suspects.

Seventh race: Budget-minded tickets will focus on Chance Encounter and Delightful Dawn, but horse-for-course Jolienne also is in with a chance, particularly if it rains.

Ninth race: Best of luck in this inscrutable cash-out leg, a bottom-level maiden claiming turf sprint where any among Antone Suavey, Slimshady, Poppy’s Watching, Lakota Freud, or Saguaro Blossom might prevail.

KennethM More than 1 year ago
Oh ya thx Dave
KennethM More than 1 year ago
Hey I took this article and went with his pics! The only two mentioned in the 4th single the 5th the three mentioned in the 6th the two mentioned in the 7th. In the 8th the article mentioned pace makes the race and so went with the fav & the pace, in the 9th was trying to figure out why Antone Suavey was mentioned first. It wazn't alphabetical, post position, I figured they liked.him best so single the 9th. Thx for the 6 grand!! cost 48 bucks.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
anyone else sick of the high price of DRF online cards at 2.95 a copy?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
anyone else sick of the "pop under" on the drf homepage?
bill bart More than 1 year ago
Tom Mallios More than 1 year ago
depending on your bankroll. if you have deep, deep pockets like some do . you all the 5th race and pray like crazy that this race blows up. if not you are looking at a basic P5. i would say 60% (at least ) will single hushion. although the 8th race is a good one to watch and more than likely bet individually if you guess right. As far as the P6 is concerned,you will not be seeing any big price in a well matched field. therefore ,if you do bet big, your best shot at the possible single is the 5th race blow up and a little luck in the others. GOOD LUCK TO ALL
matthew_melton More than 1 year ago
hushion looks tough to beat, if only he can repeat his opening effort.. added fitness, and familiarity probably makes him tougher here also.. but, you're right, you beat him and you've got something big going
Lo Habmuffin More than 1 year ago
I was amazed at how fast Hardened Wildcat rolled home in that last race against Sage Valley. Watch the replay. Then. Do the math. This guy will sit a bit closer on Wednesday. And bury this bunch late.
Nick Zacchilli More than 1 year ago
2 x 2 x 3 x 5 x 2 x 1 for me... Can't solo the odds on outside post in the 2nd leg. His debut was against a very weak field in my eyes. I like the 7.
Rachel Carnicelli More than 1 year ago
Good handicapping to all!
Javier More than 1 year ago
good luck
Javier More than 1 year ago