Favorites holding the advantage at Belmont
A trio of graded races headlined the weekend at Belmont Park.
Futurity S. (G2): Godolphin’s ANNUAL REPORT (Harlan’s Holiday) made it two-for-two with a powerful last-to-first tally under the guidance of Joe Bravo. The Kiaran McLaughlin trainee sped six panels on the fast main oval in 1:09 4/5 while finishing 1 1/4 lengths clear under the wire.
Matron S. (G2): Watson, Weitman and Pegram’s PRETTY N COOL (Scat Daddy) seized the lead soon after the break and never gave way in posting a one-length score for conditioner Bob Baffert. The juvenile filly clocked six panels on the fast main strip in 1:09 3/5 with Martin Garcia along for the ride.
Athenia S. (G3): Trevor Stewart’s STELLAR PATH (Fr) (Astronomer Royal) saved ground early and came out in the lane, eventually rolling home a half-length heroine with Joel Rosario in the irons. The talented four-year-old filly endured 1 1/16 miles on the firm turf in 1:43 2/5 for conditioner Christophe Clement.
A total of 37 races were held over the main strip at the Elmont, New York, venue, with favorites winning at a 38 percent rate and the top two betting choices combining for 70 percent of the wins during the week. From 16 races on the main oval, four animals won in wire-to-wire fashion (25 percent), while two of the 21 grassy races were taken all the way on the lead (9 percent).
Of the quartet of wire jobs on the main oval, three came in sprint runs. We thought the surface was mostly fair to all kinds this past week.
Both wire-to-wire winners on the turf came on the inner lawn, one in a dash and the other going a route of ground. As with the dirt, we thought the turf course also played fairly to every kind.
FAVORITES: 95 (36 percent)
2ND CHOICES: 60 (23 percent)
TURF WIRE: 11 (10 percent)
DIRT WIRE: 39 (25 percent)
HORSES TO WATCH
3RD – INTEGRITY (Hard Spun) tracked the leader, took the lead at the top of the lane and proved much the best in this spot for conditioner Rudy Rodriguez. The five-year-old avoided a claim and will be very tough right back with even slight improvement next time out.
6TH – Chad Brown’s MR MAYBE (Ghostzapper) moved into prime contention in early stretch and exploded inside the final furlong to post a sharp, four-length win under Irad Ortiz. The four-year-old gelding came home swiftly and is in very good form at this juncture.
8TH – TRIPSKI (Trippi) was behind a moderate early pace but put in a solid late run in a sneaky-good effort for trainer David Jacobson. The eight-year-old gelding still has lots of run left in him and should be set up for a nice try in his next outing, especially if he gets some pace to run at in the lane.
4TH – The Todd Pletcher-trained ALTAR BOY (Ready’s Image) didn’t break great from the rail, but the first timer moved outside in the lane and wore down the leader en route to a nice debut score under John Velazquez. The gelded sophomore looks like a nice prospect with some versatility going forward.
1ST – DANZIG STORM (Distorted Humor) chased lone speed, was third in midstretch, but battled gamely to the wire to be a clear second in a brave showing. The Parx invader showed nice improvement off of his latest and rates a chance at this level right back for sure for trainer Joan Scott.
2ND – Trainer Chad Brown sent out a prospect that we think could have a nice future in the two-year-old filly PRICEDTOPERFECTION (Temple City). The bay lass was well back early but was superb in the lane, getting her final five-sixteenths in a strong, :28 4/5!
3RD – Annual Report has now won in wire-to-wire, and last-to-first, fashion and appears to be a real nice prospect going forward. The $600,000 purchase is bred to run a bit longer through his dam and we like him as one to watch entering his sophomore campaign.
9TH – WIENER VALKYRIE (Ire) (Shamardal) made a strong late bid to be a good runner-up in this U.S. debut, in a field that we thought was especially good for the level. The sophomore miss could be a big player into next season if she stays in the states.
4TH – CONSTELLATION (Bellamy Road) tracked in second the whole way around the oval and we were impressed that she never lost the place spot in this dash. The Steve Asmussen filly could prosper with more ground to work with next campaign after a useful two-year-old season to this point.
10TH – CATAPULT (Kitten’s Joy) moved into second at the top of the lane and slowly worde down the pacesetter en route to a professional debut tally for trainer Chad Brown. The two-year-old colt came home fairly well and could be any kind with more seasoning.
A LOOK AHEAD
The best of the New York-bred runners will take the stage on Saturday during Empire Showcase Day. A total of eight stakes races will take place that total at least $1.75 million for the some of the top bred in the Empire State.