09/30/2017 12:22PM

Saturday’s TimeformUS Highlight Horse: Mekhtaal can rebound from tough trip

Email

Belmont | Race 10 | Post Time 5:45 p.m. (ET) | Go to the TimeformUS PPs

Not a TimeformUS member? Sign up.

This Turf Classic field is as wide-open as any assembled in this division this season. The runner whom I don't want is Oscar Performance, who is likely to go off at a relatively short price, if not as the outright favorite. He just has never faced a field of this quality and is unproven at 12 furlongs. Oscar Performance may be able to control the early pace, but Beach Patrol figures to be breathing down his neck throughout, and he’s never had to put away a rival of that quality. Beach Patrol is a threat in his own right, but I’m a little skeptical of his ability to get this distance.

I think Sadler's Joy (#4) is probably the horse to beat. Unlike so many among this group, he is actually a specialist at 1 1/2 miles and appears to be coming into this race in the best form of his career. After he made a premature move to the front in the Bowling Green two back, Julien Leparoux was able to time his late run perfectly last time in the Sword Dancer. He was beating a slightly weaker field that day, but I still think you have to respect him. I’ll use him, but others do figure to offer better value.

Obviously, the runners coming over from Europe deserve a look here. Fanciful Angel has made the switch to Chad Brown’s barn since his strong Arlington Million effort. My only problem with him is that he’s going to get bet off that effort, and I think he was a little lucky that day. He got a great trip in a race where others had some trouble, and I’m not sure the added ground is going to help him.

The runner I want out of the Arlington Million is MEKHTAAL (#8).

It's hard to tell how much run he really had in the Arlington Million because he was never fully clear through the stretch and couldn't be asked for his best. Based on his prior form in Europe, he might be the horse to beat here. He didn't lose the Group 1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes by that much back in June, finishing behind titans like Highland Reel, Decorated Knight, and Ulysses. He's handled this distance and now finds himself in the barn of Graham Motion, who has awesome numbers in this situation. Over the past five years, he is 22 for 70 (31 percent, $3.60 ROI) first off a trainer switch with horses getting Lasix for the first time.

I also have to use The Grey Gatsby (#10) somewhere. It’s been forever since he’s won a race, and he may have lost a step this year. On the other hand, Dermot Weld knows how to win major races in the U.S., and the horse does have back races that would make him pretty formidable.

THE PLAY

Win/Place: 8

Exacta Key Box: 8 with 1,4,5,6,9,10

Trifecta: 8 with 4,5,10 with 1,4,5,6,8,9,10