07/06/2017 3:49PM

Hammersly: Belmont Park pick five for Saturday, July 8


Stars and Stripes Day at Belmont features some strong Americans and some strong European raiders. The question is who to use in the late pick five (races 6-10)?

Race 6

BATTALION RUNNER (#2) ran second in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial (finished ahead of Cloud Computing, who came back to win the Preakness). They skipped the Triple Crown trail with him, and the $700,000 son of Unbridled’s Song has worked splendidly for this return. PRACTICAL JOKE (#3) has been freshened since a nice fifth in the Kentucky Derby. This shorter trip likely plays better for him.

A’s) 2, 3
B’s) None
C’s) None

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Race 7

UNIFIED (#7) beat MIND YOUR BISCUITS (#2) by a neck earlier this year and looks primed off a freshening and some strong works. MIND YOUR BISCUITS came back after that narrow defeat to look super in winning the Dubai Golden Shaheen on March 25. He’s reportedly working wonderfully for this return as well. AWESOME SLEW (#5) was fourth, albeit no factor, when well behind monstrous winner Mor Spirit in the Grade 1 Met Mile here last month. However, he returns to seven furlongs and his two best speed figures came at this trip. STALLWALKIN’ DUDE (#1) finished with interest in the Grade 2 True North here a month ago and rates a puncher’s chance.

A’s) 2, 7
B’s) 5
C’s) 1

Race 8

SISTERCHARLIE (#12) showed big talent in France, winning a Group 3 and then finishing a strong second in a brutally tough Group 1 there June 18. If she brings that kind of form with her, odds are the others are running for second. NEW MONEY HONEY (#8) was dull when sixth in her seasonal debut at Keeneland this spring but bounced back to win in the Grade 3 Wonder Again here last month. Remember, too, she showed ample quality last fall when winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.

A’s) 12
B’s) 8
C’s) None

Race 9

SHAMAN GHOST (#6) can probably beat any horse not named Arrogate or Gun Runner and faces neither here. His only poor race in the past year-plus came in this race a year ago – but he was later found to have been ill, so you can excuse that outing. MATT KING COAL (#2) comes off a career-best effort in winning a stakes at Penn National. It’s a longer game and tougher foes, but he’s in fine form and may be the controlling speed.

A’s) 6
B’s) 2
C’s) None

Race 10

CALLED TO THE BAR (#5) comes here sharp from France, having won a stakes May 3 and then taking a Group 3 going longer May 23. GOOD SAMARITAN (#1) comes off two smart, rallying seconds, and with those under his belt and today’s longer trip, he may be primed for his best. YOSHIDA (#7) looked super blasting home from far back to win a stakes at Pimlico last time out. TICONDEROGA (#2) finished smartly to end up just behind GOOD SAMARITAN in the Pennine Ridge and didn’t have as clear a trip. He figures to be finishing. OSCAR PERFORMANCE (#4) gave way badly two races back but returned to top form when winning the Grade 3 Pennine Ridge here June 3 over a few of these. It must be noted, though, that that win came when he was able to set a slow pace. That doesn’t figure to be the case here. HOMESMAN (#3) invades from Europe for Aidan O’Brien, who won this race last year with invader Deauville. He’s proven at this trip.

A’s) 1, 5
B’s) 2, 7
C’s) 3, 4