Five horses I'm eager to see on Belmont undercard

Profile Picture: Kellie Reilly

June 11th, 2016

The title is a bit of a misnomer, since there a lot more than five horses I'm interested in over the course of the day.

The Carina Mia vs Cathryn Sophia match in the Acorn (G1) could be epic. The Ogden Phipps (G1) could hardly be any deeper, with Cavorting maybe maximing her home field advantage. And I've managed to narrow down the Jaipur (G3) to Ready for Rye, Green Mask, Mosler, A Lot, and Summation Time.

But for the purposes of this post, I'm concentrating on the runners who are eligible to show something they might not have before. Hence they're of great interest to see how they answer the questions posed on Saturday.

Securitiz in the Brooklyn (G2). Trainer Jimmy Jerkens was using the Flat Out as just a prep, so it wouldn't surprise me if he turned the tables on Turco Bravo. By Tiznow and out of an AP Indy mare, Securitiz is bred to love the distance. He might be blossoming in time to threaten Kid Cruz, and that gives Securitiz a sneaky look in here.

Counterforce in the Woody Stephens (G2). I love his pedigree -- by Smart Strike out of a close relative of Rags to Riches -- and his long stride, both indicative of crying out for more ground. The step up to 7 furlongs, with an unbelievable amount of pace on tap, could be the ideal set-up. Dig Deep and Seymourdini could also work out a good trip just off the pace. If you forgive Awesome Gent's flops on an off track, even he could pick up some pieces late. But I'm really intrigued by Counterforce.

Irish Rookie in the Just a Game (G1). The British shipper is appealing at 10-1 for reasons described in my international blog -- Group 1 form abroad, loves a turning mile, gets better ground, and ducks Royal Ascot. Of the domestic chances, Recepta (horse-for-course who was unlucky in the Beaugay [G3]) and Faufiler could be the best. But I'm eager to find out if Irish Rookie is as good as her best formlines imply.

Upstart in the Met Mile (G1). I'd love Frosted to win this, but McLaughlin sounds more hopeful than confident, citing the importance to his stallion profile to try a race that's short for him. So maybe Upstart, his old rival from the 2015 Triple Crown trail, is worth a serious look. He's always appeared better at around a mile or so, and now he adds blinkers. Calculator has been knocking on the door all spring, and the one-turn mile might finally be the opening for him. But once upon a time, Upstart looked top-class, and it would be great to see him regain that luster.

Ironicus isn't my top selection in the Manhattan (G1), where Flintshire looks triple tough even on the cutback in trip. But Ironicus would have been my 2015 Breeders' Cup Mile (G1) pick if he hadn't gotten hurt, and I'm fascinated to see how he copes with the added ground here. A strong performance would open up additional options for him on the turf scene. You could say the same for Flintshire, who might take up his Arlington Million (G1) engagement if he topples this field. One final comment on him: Brown didn't have to start Flintshire off in the Manhattan, so the very fact he's pitching him in to a 10-furlong race bespeaks a world of confidence. After all, if Juddmonte just gave you their richest money-earner with a plan for North American conquest, you don't want to mess it up right off the bat. Flintshire showed a far better turn of foot at Saratoga than anywhere else in the world, and Belmont shouldn't be any different.

Good luck on this tremendous card!