All-Stakes Pick 4 analysis for Belmont Derby Day
by SCOTT SHAPIRO
New York City takes center stage in the Thoroughbred racing world on Saturday afternoon as Belmont Park hosts a strong 11-race card starting at 1:30 p.m. (EDT)
An all-stakes Pick 4 that includes the $1 million Belmont Oaks (G1) and the $1.2 million Belmont Derby (G1) commences in Race 7.
Here are my thoughts:
Race 7: Belmont Sprint Championship (G2)
There should be an honest early pace in the first leg of the all-stakes sequence given the presence of three geldings that do their best running on the front end.
#4 Shaft of Light is likely to get the best of #3 Eye Luv Lulu and #5 Lewisfield, but they should soften up the Ontario-bred enough to set things up for a runner from off the pace.
#1 Limousine Liberal cuts back a furlong after a well beaten third in the Met Mile (G1) last month. The six-year-old gelding has performed well at seven-eighths of a mile with four wins and seven in-the-money efforts in nine starts and should sit a lovely ground saving trip under jockey Jose Ortiz. I love his chances to get the jump on #2 Whitmore and earn his ninth lifetime score.
Race 8: Belmont Oaks
The first of the two Grade 1 turf events on the stakes laden Saturday slate drew a strong field of three-year-old fillies and appears the most wide-open graded event on the card.
The field is led by 7-2-morning line favorite #1 Significant Form. Trainer Chad Brown has owned this race of late winning five of the last six, including the 2017 rendition with New Money Honey. This $575,000 OBS April 2017 purchase stalked a slow early pace in the Wonder Again (G3) before being turned away by the eventual winner, #7 La Signare. It is unlikely that this daughter of Creative Cause was fully cranked last time out since this was the ultimate goal, but the lack of finish late was a bit concerning.
#5 Toinette had a troubled voyage in the Edgewood (G3) on Kentucky Oaks Day at Churchill Downs, but showed an electric turn of foot when running down the likes of Rushing Fall and Daddy is a Legend in the final furlong. The mile and a quarter distance may be out of her scope, but the talent is there to spring the minor upset.
#2 Chipolata, #3 Paved, #4 Carla Temptress and #9 Fatale Bere are all fillies that are in with a chance and will provide separation if they get their picture taken. Spread as deep as possible.
Race 9: Suburban (G2)
The $700,000 event for four-year-olds and upward also offers handicappers several ways to go, including a pair of horses from the barn of Triple Crown winning trainer Bob Baffert.
#5 Dr. Dorr is the 3-1-morning line favorite off of consecutive 106+ BRIS speed ratings in graded stakes competition on the West Coast. He is in great form but has yet to prove he can compete at this level outside of Southern California. Additionally, he will have to deal with #10 Diversify in the early going.
I prefer his stablemate #8 Hoppertunity. The son of Any Given Saturday struggled to win races at one point of his career, but he loves the wide swooping turns of Belmont Park evidenced by a two-for-two record over the surface. If he can replicate his effort last month in the Brooklyn (G2) he should get the best of this group late.
Race 10: Belmont Derby
The sequence concludes with the richest race of the afternoon. The mile and a quarter event over the sod drew a strong group that includes the top two finishers from the Pennine Ridge (G3), the dominant winner of the Penn Mile (G2), the fifth-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby (G1), and two talented colts from overseas.
#3 Analyze It looked like he was on his way to a perfect four-for-four record last time out when he passed #7 Catholic Boy, but he tired late allowing the Jonathan Thomas trainee to rally back and get to the wire first. I expect both horses to move forward off of that effort.
#8 Hawkish could not have been more impressive at Penn National on June 2, but that was at a mile. The mile and a quarter distance may be a bit too far, but he merits respect based on his accomplishments to this point.
#9 My Boy Jack was on the Derby trail earlier this year, but he did all of his running as a two-year-old over the lawn for trainer Keith Desormeaux. I am not convinced that he has the turn of foot to run this group down, but he should be finishing full of run late.
#4 Hunting Horn comes off a four and a half-length victory in the Grade 3 Hampton Court (G3) at Royal Ascot. He gets Lasix for the initial time for trainer Aidan O'Brien.
Suggested Wager: ($1 Pick 4)
1 with ALL with 8 with 3+4+7+8+9 = $50