A closer look at three longer-priced Belmont Day picks
You can access my top three selections for Saturday's Pick 6 at Belmont Park (Races 6-11) inside TwinSpires.com's handy 2017 Belmont Stakes Betting Guide. Readers can probably figure out the reasons why I've put Pure Sensation (Jaipur), Wild Shot (Woody Stephens), and Awesome Slew (Metropolitan) on top, but here's a more detailed look at my thinking behind the two turf Grade 1s and the Belmont S. (G1) itself.
Just a Game (G1) -- Race 8 -- Celestine, Dickinson, and Roca Rojo are all perfectly logical contenders, but I believe Antonoe (#7, 8-1) still has some upside. A tremendous debut winner at Deauville at two, where she beat eventual multiple Group 1 winner Qemah by more than six lengths, she landed a Group 3 next out before her French form tailed off badly (Qemah beat her in their next three meetings). She got things turned around in her U.S. debut at Keeneland in April when adding Lasix. Favored at 13-10, she met some slight interference at the start but ultimately proved her superiority by 2 1/4 lengths with a strong stretch kick. Earning a BRIS Late Pace rating of 102 for that score, she could surprise with the potent combo of Chad Brown/Javier Castellano in her corner.
Manhattan (G1) -- Race 10 -- This race boasts arguably the strongest collection of American turf talent, therefore it will take a serious-looking import to upset the domestic contingent. Potemkin (#6, 8-1) might be the one if he runs back to his best 2016 form. Winning group form in Germany and Italy, which he has, doesn't always translate well to the American scene, but he's intriguing off his victory in the Prix Dollar (G2) at Chantilly on Arc weekend last October. The form of that race has held up subsequently, with runner-up Heshem getting within a half-length of Vivlos and finishing ahead of Ribchester in the Dubai Turf (G1) on World Cup night. Third-place finisher Zarak won a Group 3 in Dubai, finished fourth in the Dubai Turf, and then missed by a head in the Prix Ganay (G1).
Potemkin was seventh of eight in the May 1 Prix Ganay in his season debut, easily the worst race of his 15-race career. Trainer Andreas Wohler, who's won races as varied as the Melbourne Cup (G1) and Arlington Million (G1), is a conditioner to watch and his entries usually aren't to be taken lightly. I'm looking for this horse to rebound at a bettable price.
Belmont (G1) -- Race 11 -- He's not the most talented horse in the field, but the uniqueness of the Belmont conditions make it a race that falls to a horse that can be described as such at a rate much lower than the average. After blitzing eventual Preakness winner Cloud Computing by 3 1/2 lengths in the March 4 Gotham (G3), J Boys Echo (#4, 15-1) was never a serious factor in the Blue Grass (G2) after an iffy beginning and , like others, never really got untracked in the Kentucky Derby (G1) after a rough opening furlong.
Perhaps the Gotham might simply have been a one-off, but in a race known for yielding bombs I can't readily pass up anything in the 15-1 range on a colt bred to relish this distance (Mineshaft out of a Menifee mare) and who's reportedly entering in good shape after five weeks off. Robby Albarado, back riding recently after missing the Derby due to injury, adds some potentially good karma, and this colt is capable of being within striking range throughout, the kind of style that tends to do best in this race.