Best bets for the Acorn, Brooklyn, and Woody Stephens
The Belmont S. (G1) isn’t the only important dirt race during Saturday’s action-packed card at Belmont Park. The first three stakes of the day will be contested over the main track, including a pair of Grade 1 events.
Hoping to build your bankroll for the feature event? We’ve got you covered! Thanks to the Belmont Stakes and Churchill Downs Money Back Offer, we can place $10 win bets on our top choices and receive refunds if they settle for second or third place.
With that in mind, let’s take $75 and plan out a wagering strategy, focused on the first three stakes of the day.
Race 3: Woody Stephens S. (G1, seven furlongs, 12:47 p.m. ET)
Two-time Grade 1 winner #3 Jackie’s Warrior (7-5) is an obvious favorite, after he won the Pat Day Mile (G2) at Churchill Downs. The frontrunning son of Maclean’s Music is undefeated in five one-turn starts and figures to be formidable over the seven-furlong distance of the Woody Stephens.
But #4 Dream Shake (5-2) was beaten just a head in the Pat Day Mile, even after he pressed Jackie’s Warrior through blazing fractions of :21.75 and :43.68. That effort was a change in tactics for Dream Shake, who previously placed third in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) and San Felipe S. (G2), with rallies from tracking and mid-pack positions.
There is more speed entered in the Woody Stephens, with Jackie’s Warrior likely to face pace pressure from #2 Drain the Clock (7-2) and #6 Caddo River (4-1). This should allow Dream Shake to settle comfortably behind the leaders and pounce to victory.
$10 to win on #4 Dream Shake
$5 double: 4 with 6,9 ($10)
$5 Pick 3: 4 with 6,9 with 4 ($10)
Race 4: Brooklyn S. (G2, 1 1/2 miles, 1:22 p.m. ET)
Two runners have caught my eye in this historic prize for older horses — #6 Moretti (4-1) and #9 Lone Rock (9-2).
Lone Rock has been on fire since he stretched out over 1 1/2 miles for trainer Robertino Diodoro. He finished second by a neck in the Temperence Hill S., then dominated an Oaklawn Park allowance and the Isaac Murphy Overnight S. by daylight margins.
Moretti brings serious back class. In 2020, the son of Medaglia d’Oro used his speed to sandwich victories in the Flat Out S. and Birdstone S. around a runner-up effort in the Suburban S. (G2). Effective over distances from 1 1/16 miles to 1 3/4 miles, Moretti hasn’t run since August, but he has worked sharply for his return, and trainer Todd Pletcher excels with horses in dirt marathons.
We’ll favor Lone Rock with our win bet but use Moretti equally for the exacta and in multi-race wagers.
$10 to win on #9 Lone Rock
$5 exacta box: 6,9 ($10)
$5 double: 6,9 with 4 ($10)
Race 5: Acorn S. (G1, one mile, 2:01 p.m. ET)
#6 Search Results (1-1) is a deserving favorite, after she dominated the Gazelle S. (G2) and finished second in the Kentucky Oaks (G1), but don’t overlook #4 Dayoutoftheoffice (4-1), who beat future champion two-year-old filly Vequist in the Frizette S. (G1) over this track and distance last fall.
Dayoutoftheoffice recently returned from a layoff to finish second in the Eight Belles S. (G2) at Churchill Downs, where she was beaten only a length by deep closer #2 Obligatory (6-1). This was an impressive effort, since Dayoutoftheoffice was the only speed horse to survive fast early fractions of :21.89 and :44.46, which gave an advantage to late runners.
With a better pace setup in the Acorn, Dayoutoftheoffice can bounce back at a nice price.
$10 to win on #4 Dayoutoftheoffice
$5 exacta: 4 with 6