06/02/2015 5:06PM

Bet This, Not That: Friday at Belmont


Two big days of racing at Belmont offer large fields and quality horses. First, let’s look at Friday’s card, where there are a lot of betting opportunities, and we’ll use DRF Formulator to find a couple to play as well as a couple to avoid.

Race 4 – stakes, 5 1/2 furlongs on dirt

Bet This: No. 1 Cocked and Loaded (8-1 morning line). This 2-year-old colt couldn’t have been more impressive in his debut. After a slow, awkward start, he rallied strongly from the back of the pack, a tactic that rarely works in 4 1/2-furlong races at Keeneland. Not only did he close from last to win, kicking clear late in the stretch, but he set a track record. That race has come back strong, with the fourth-place finisher winning a maiden special weight race at Churchill and the third-place runner finishing second next out; both earned Beyer Speed Figures in the mid-70s, numbers that would be competitive in this field. Following that effort, he was sold privately and is now in the barn of Larry Rivelli, an underrated trainer who races mostly in Illinois. Rivelli has won 24 percent of his races over the past five years and has had success running horses on the New York Racing Association circuit in that time, going 30-8-5-4 for a solid $1.89 return on investment and 10-3-1-2, $3.22 ROI there in dirt sprints. Also, the horse has fired two bullet works since that debut, the latest one May 25 in company with Rivelli’s 4-year-old gelding Rivzinthehouse, who has won five of his 10 lifetime starts. Cocked and Loaded’s main rival appears to be Todd Pletcher’s Uncle Vinny, who won his debut easily at a short price but seems no lock here, as Pletcher is only 4 for 16 with a $0.75 ROI over the past five years with 2-year-olds in dirt-sprint non-graded stakes in their second career start. Five of those failed at odds of even-money or lower.

Race 5 – maiden special weight, 7 furlongs on dirt

Not That: No. 6 Indian Trail (7-2 ML). This 3-year-old colt is a full brother to 2010 champion 2-year-old male Uncle Mo. He debuts here for top-notch connections – owner Coolmore, trainer Pletcher, and jockey John Velazquez – and has been firing bullets in the morning. A quick glance at the trainer stat line at the bottom of the PPs shows that Pletcher excels with horses making their first start (26 percent winners from 188 starters and a positive ROI of $2.02 since the beginning of 2014), but if you use Formulator to dig deeper, this one appears vulnerable at a short price. We’re nearly halfway through this colt’s sophomore season, and Pletcher’s success with debuting horses has come almost exclusively with runners debuting earlier than this one does. In the past five years, Pletcher is 34-5-5-3 with a $0.87 ROI with 3-year-olds making their debuts in dirt maiden special weights after June 1, and he’s 21-1-4-3 with a $0.20 ROI with those runners in the past two years. With a full field that includes a couple of runners who have already run big races, why take a short price on this one?

Race 6 – optional claimer, 1 1/8 miles on turf

Not That: No. 2 My Miss Sophia (7-2 ML). This filly is a Grade 2 winner on dirt, and she sold for $2.15 million last November at the Fasig-Tipton sale, so what’s she doing in an optional claimer on turf? Her pedigree gives little indication that turf is what she wants, as her stakes-winning dam never tried turf, her younger half-brother is Materiality (who runs in the Belmont Stakes on Saturday and has yet to try turf), and no horse in her female family has had any real success on turf. Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott has had little success with these types, as he’s only 27-2-2-3 for a $0.44 ROI over the past five years in routes outside of the maiden ranks with horses trying turf for the first time, and he’s 18-0-1-1 over the past five years in routes second off the layoff with runners trying turf for the first time. Entering this filly on turf seems like a reach, perhaps in the hopes that the race gets moved to the main track, but given her dirt success, she seems likely to be way overbet here if this race stays on the grass. Also note that her jockey in five of her seven lifetime starts, including both wins, opts to ride Chocolatier for Chad Brown instead.

Race 10 – stakes, 2 miles on turf

Bet This: No. 9 Manchurian High (8-1 ML). He’s coming off an eighth-place finish in the Grade 2 Dixie, where he earned an 84 Beyer, his lowest in 10 races since moving to the barn of Lilli Kurtinecz. However, that race was much better than in looked on paper. After the first quarter-mile, where he loped along in 26.29 seconds, he got the final 6 1/2 furlongs faster than any horse in the race (1:15.19) while going ridiculously wide on the far turn. He should take a step forward in the second start off the layoff as he stretches out to the longest distance of his career; he’s never been out of the money in his three races at 12 furlongs and farther. A rebound effort and top-three finish appears likely here as well.

These are just a few examples of great bets to target. Every day, at every track, you will find many examples of these kinds of great (or awful) opportunities. DRF Formulator gives you the keys to find these angles, and it could very well lead you to a winner that is overlooked by much of the betting public. Check out the different Formulator plans available, priced for every budget. Better yet, try it for yourself; get two Formulator cards for a penny by using code BETTHIS at checkout.