09/14/2017 3:50PM

King: Quidura key to hitting Woodbine-Belmont Park pick five

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Ronnie Betor
Quidura (No. 4) finishes second to Lady Eli in the Grade 1 Diana in July.

Horseplayers who didn’t get enough turf-racing action at the Kentucky Downs meeting that concluded Thursday have a unique opportunity Saturday between Belmont Park and Woodbine, which are teaming up for an all-turf pick-five sequence that can be played in 20-cent denominations.

Four of the five races are graded stakes, with the exception being a second-level allowance, the seventh race at Belmont Park, which landed the comebacking Annals of Time, the winner of last year’s Grade 1 Hollywood Derby.

So, what follows is my handicapping analysis of the sequence and a budget-minded ticket.

Canadian Stakes, Woodbine

I will single right from the beginning with Quidura (1), the class of the race. One of the top female turf horses around, she has been unlucky to not win a race in three starts this year, all against elite competition. She began her year with a third-place finish behind Dickinson and Lady Eli in the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley, returned with a second to the loose-on-the-lead Hawksmoor in the New York Stakes, and then finished second, beaten a head by Lady Eli, in the Grade 1 Diana last out on July 22.

There are no fillies or mares of such quality in the Canadian, which drew mostly locals and a Chad Brown-trained runner in Elysea’s World who is a cut below most of his stakes stock.

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Race 7, Belmont

Annals of Time (3) is the best horse in the race, but because he hasn’t raced since winning the Hollywood Derby last year, I can’t feel comfortable singling him. He could need a race.

I will throw a couple of pricier alternatives onto my tickets in the speedy Black Tide (10), whose form has dramatically improved since a change to a front-running style, and Gio’s Calling (9), who deserves a pass for a poor performance last out when racing three turns at Saratoga. Gio’s Calling seems better suited to the one-mile distance of the seventh, particularly with an abundance of speed to set up his rally.

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Northern Dancer Turf, Woodbine

We’re back in Canada for the third leg of the pick five, the 1 1/2-mile Northern Dancer Turf, in which the Group 1-winning European Hawkbill (8) seems to hold the edge. An eight-time winner, he is well suited to the distance and is running career-best TImeform ratings.

If by chance he doesn’t adapt to North American racing or runs off form following his ship across the Atlantic, Noble Thought (3) may have a chance to upset. He performed well to run second to the favored Can’thelpbelieving, who got the jump on him in the Sky Classic last month, showing a strong kick going 1 3/8 miles. Now, he gets another furlong to aid his punch.

Sands Point, Belmont

Contention runs deep in the Sands Point, which drew some of the top 3-year-old turf fillies on the East Coast.

I will spread in this race, using Uni (6), second in the Lake Placid and third in the Belmont Oaks; Vue Fantastique (8), who was a Group 2 winner in France and now adds Lasix; La Coronel (3), who has the back class to win with a return to form; and Defiant Honor (9), a winner of three of six races who has tactical speed that often leaves her in a favorable running position.

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Woodbine Mile

Although World Approval (1) is the most likely winner of the Woodbine Mile, I’m also including four others since he is winless in two starts on the Woodbine turf course.

They are Long On Value (3), a late-running sprinter who may be able to handle a one-turn mile; Deauville (6), a millionaire who was a little disappointing when third in the Arlington Million with a perfect trip; Conquest Panthera (7), the winner of the Play the King going seven-eighths in a prep for this race; and Lancaster Bomber (10), who has run competitively against many of Europe’s best 3-year-olds this summer after ending 2016 with a runner-up finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.

The ticket

Playing the horses listed above, a 20-cent ticket of 1 with 3, 9, 10 with 3, 8 with 3, 6, 8, 9 with 1 ,3, 6, 7, 10 costs $24.