Saturday is a big day at Belmont Park. The card is highlighted by a pair of Grade 1 races for 3-year-olds on the turf, ones that have drawn horses from the U.S. and Europe.
The card is deeper than just those two races, though. I think there are several fruitful spots to take stands elsewhere on the program, and I’m looking forward to diving in. Let’s take a look.
Suburban short on numbers, not on value
The Grade 2 Suburban, once one of the most prestigious races for older horses on the circuit, drew a field of just five. However, I think there is an opportunity to make some money.
No. 4 First Captain hits me as the most likely winner. He’s bred to want to go long, and he lived up to it with a win in the Grade 3 Pimlico Special. He rallied from well back despite a pretty slow pace, and the extra sixteenth of a mile in this race shouldn’t be a problem.
The value, though, comes in my second choice. No. 2 Max Player got very good last year, when he won this race and the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup. His 2022 form has been a significant step back, and that’s why he’s the fourth choice on the morning line. However, I think he needed his return race in the Grade 2 Alysheba, and he may not have wanted the 1 1/2-mile trip in the Grade 2 Brooklyn. A return to form gives him a big chance, so I’ll give him one more shot.
- $5 exacta box: 2, 4
An 8-1 top pick in the Victory Ride
The Belmont Oaks and Belmont Derby are split by the Grade 3 Victory Ride, a 6 1/2-furlong sprint for 3-year-old fillies. In looking at this race, I’m struck by an abundance of early speed. It sure seems like they’ll go very fast early, which could set things up for a closer.
That’s why I really like No. 7 Sterling Silver, who comes in after thumping New York breds in the Bouwerie Stakes back in May. She’s 3-for-3 in sprint races, and in all three instances, she rallied past rivals late. The faster they go early, the better her chances figure to be. Given the likely race shape, I think she’s got a big, big chance.
In addition to a win bet, I’ll key Sterling Silver in exactas above and below No. 4 Happy Soul, No. 5 Pretty Birdie, and No. 6 Hot Peppers. If one of them holds on and Sterling Silver rallies for second, I’ll still make a few bucks.
- $10 win: 7
- $3 exacta key box: 7 with 4, 5, 6
Beating the chalk in the 10th at Belmont Park
There are two races after the Belmont Derby, ones you’ll need to get right in order to hit the late multirace exotics. The 10th has drawn a big field, and I’m taking a stand against the 7-2 morning line favorite.
No. 7 Salt Cay comes in for Chad Brown, who’s winning at a 32% clip this meet. However, I have my doubts. He’s been working at Monmouth Park, where Brown usually keeps his second-stringers. Those horses aren’t impossible in these spots, but his likely price hits me as an underlay.
My top pick is No. 12 Heymackit’sjack, who certainly looks like the lone speed on paper. Irad Ortiz Jr., sees fit to ride, and I think he could get very comfortable on the front end. However, I think there are others to consider, too.
No. 6 Brady’s Legacy has a pedigree that screams turf, as well as some fast recent workouts. I’ll need to use him, plus first-time starters No. 3 Independent Paul and No. 4 Frank’s Art. If you’re playing the late Pick Four or Pick Five, I’d include all four runners.
Salt Cay may well be good enough to win, but at that price, I can’t use him. If Salt Cay misfires, I think astute horseplayers could be rewarded handsomely.
- $2 exactas: 6, 12 with 3, 4, 6, 12