09/21/2012 3:36PM

Klein: Lady Cohiba an overlay at Belmont Park

Barbara D. Livington
Lady Cohiba improved with the addition of blinkers to win the Summer Guest Stakes.

I’ll be betting on three stakes races on Sunday. I like the Belle Cherie and the Promenade All at Belmont, and the Ralph M. Hinds at Fairplex.

The $85,000 Belle Cherie is the second race on the Belmont card, a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-old fillies. Most of the seven entrants are capable of contending. Four of them competed against graded stakes company in their last start.

Proud Pearl finished second, 2 1/4 lengths behind the winner in the Grade 3 Monmouth Oaks. She’d be a prime contender in this race if she matches that performance, but consistency hasn’t been her specialty. She wasn’t expected to contend as a 23-1 longshot that day after finishing fourth once, and fifth twice in ungraded stakes races. She can’t afford to return to that form in this race.

Final Escrow finished fourth, two positions and a half-length behind Proud Pearl in the Monmouth Oaks. She’s an improving filly who should be a major player on the class drop.

Morrow Cove was the impressive 4 3/4-length winner of an ungraded stakes at Monmouth two races ago. That performance was good enough to make her the 17-10 favorite in the Monmouth Oaks, but she regressed when she finished one position and 1 3/4 lengths behind Final Escrow. A return to her best form would make her a serious threat.

The betting value in this race might be a filly who is stepping up in class. Based on any of her first five races, Lady Cohiba would be the filly most likely to finish last in this race. The thing that makes her interesting is that she took more than two months off following her fifth start, then added blinkers in her return. She improved significantly when she earned an 89 Beyer in a half-length victory in the restricted Summer Guest last time at Saratoga. Will she run as well against classier rivals this time? It’s a dicey proposition, but it’s encouraging to see that she turned in a strong five-furlong breeze in 1:00.40 at Belmont eight days ago, the second-fastest of 32 horses. She likes Belmont, with a win and a second from two races. She’s also eligible to improve in the second race of her form cycle. If she has another 89 Beyer in her, she’ll have a chance to beat this field at overlaid odds.

I’ll bet Lady Cohiba to win, and I’ll box her in the exacta with Morrow Cove, Final Escrow, Proud Pearl, and the improving Dance Card.

The third race at Belmont is the $85,000 Promenade All, a one-mile race for 3-year-olds and up, foaled in New-York.

Two of the six horses entered have won a number of recent races. Saginaw has won seven of his last eight, and Lunar Victory has won his last five. Both will be well-bet, so they figure to be a low price in either order as an exacta combination. If you believe one of them has a chance to disappoint by finishing third or worse, there is money to be made in the exacta.

I’m going to try to beat Saginaw. He was unimpressive when he had to work much harder than he was expected to when he prevailed by only 1 1/2 lengths as the 1-5 favorite last time in a five-horse $25,000 starter handicap field at Saratoga.

I’ll bet Lunar Victory to win, and I’ll key him on top in the exacta over Fiddlers Afleet and Sailmate. I’ll also toss in Johannesburg Smile for second, but I’ll play the first two exacta combinations for twice as much as this last one.

Race 11 at Fairplex is the $100,000 Ralph M. Hinds, a 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds and up.

Worth Repeating rallied from third to take the lead, then tired late going 1 1/2 miles on Polytrack at Del Mar in the Grade 3 Cougar II two races ago. He led most of the way, then tired and finished a close fourth on turf last time going 1 3/8 miles at Del Mar. The class drop, and cutting back to 1 1/8 miles should give him an advantage on dirt at Fairplex. Note that he matched his career-best 97 Beyer in one of his two previous dirt races, so the surface switch shouldn’t be an issue.

I’ll bet Worth Repeating to win, and I’ll key him on top in the exacta over Norvsky, Heroically, and Quindici Man.