Belmont Park: Stakes spot plays for Memorial Day
Belmont Park will celebrate Memorial Day with an action-packed card featuring half a dozen stakes races for New York-breds.
Planning to play along? We’ve got a trio of exacta bets to get you started.
Race 3: Bouwerie S. (seven furlongs, 2:02 p.m. ET)
#5 Secret Love (9-5) hasn’t missed the exacta in four starts sprinting, including a pace-tracking victory in the 6 1/2-furlong Franklin Square S. at Aqueduct. The John Kimmel trainee most recently finished a game second in a seven-furlong allowance optional claiming race at Aqueduct, beaten only a length after racing wide over a sloppy track.
Secret Love received a solid 96 Brisnet Speed rating for her allowance defeat, which stands as the highest figure in the Bouwerie field. Transitioning from Aqueduct to Belmont shouldn’t be an issue for Secret Love, who broke her maiden by 6 1/4 lengths over this track last fall. Throw in the fact Kimmel wins at a 33% rate in non-graded stakes, and Secret Love looks tough to beat under Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez.
#1 Betsy Blue (7-2) and #4 Pay Grade (4-1) can battle for second place.
$10 Exacta: 5 with 1,4 ($20)
Race 4: Commentator S. (one mile, 2:33 p.m. ET)
#3 Mr. Buff (7-5), a veteran speedster with 11 stakes wins to his credit, has been competing with aplomb against open company and should be difficult to deny while dropping back down into the New York-bred ranks.
But Mr. Buff isn’t the only frontrunner in the Commentator field. #2 Winners Laugh (12-1), #4 Yankee Division (5-1), and #7 Sea Foam (6-1) are other pace players Mr. Buff must reckon with. If a fast tempo unfolds, #5 Bankit (2-1) can rally to steal the show.
The last time Bankit and Mr. Buff squared off, Bankit was a decisive 4 3/4-length winner of the 1 1/8-mile Alex M. Robb S. at Aqueduct in December. The Steve Asmussen trainee remains in good form and will have every chance to maintain his supremacy if the Commentator pace is hot.
$25 Exacta: 5 with 3
Race 7: Mike Lee S. (seven furlongs, 4:06 p.m. ET)
#6 River Dog (7-5) ran out of his skin when debuting at Belmont Park earlier this month. After settling just off the pace in a six-furlong maiden sprint for New York-breds, River Dog seized command and powered clear to win by seven lengths.
River Dog stopped the clock in a snappy 1:09.05, and the 100 Brisnet Speed rating he received towers over Monday’s field. Hot jockey Jose Ortiz (a 21% winner at Belmont) takes the mount, and River Dog figures to receive a favorable pace setup in this speed-laden race. If River Dog runs back to his debut, he can win the Mike Lee for fun.
#3 Excellent Timing (5-2), runaway winner of the seven-furlong Damon Runyon S. during the winter at Aqueduct, can complete a cold exacta.
$30 Exacta: 6 with 3