Gratto seeks to rake in the Green at Belmont Park
A quick look at Saturday’s $400,000 Belmont Sprint, the last of six graded events on a blockbuster Independence Day program, identifies an abundance speed in the eight-horse field.
Bay of Plenty can zip from his rail position and Private Zone is a quality front-runner in post 3. Moonlight Song adds more quickness from his far outside starting spot.
But none of the above figure to be showing the way early in my estimation; that distinction will belong to Green Gatto, the speed of the speed and my upset selection in the seven-furlong test.
Green Gratto's improving form is appealing. Listed at 15-1 on the morning line, the New Jersey-bred horse nearly upset the seven-furlong Carter three starts back, finishing second at 53-1 odds, and looks better-suited for his return to Grade 1 company on Saturday.
He cut back to six furlongs in a stakes-quality allowance after the Carter, establishing wicked opening splits of :22 and :44 4/5 before grudgingly giving way to Stallwalkin’ Dude, an off-the-pace contender in the Belmont Sprint.
Stretching back out to seven furlongs on the Belmont Stakes undercard last time, Green Gratto recorded his most formidable performance to date, a dominant victory over a deep and speed-laden field of allowance foes.
Green Gratto blazed the way up front through fractions of :22 2/5, :45 2/5 and 1:09 1/5 en route to stopping the teletimer in 1:22, striding out superbly through the stretch to post a comfortable 1 ¾-length decision, and netted another commendable 97 BRIS Speed rating.
And I believe he can continue to build upon that performance.
The five-year-old fits Saturday based on numbers, earing Speed ratings as high as 111 this season, and Green Gratto has never been better for trainer Osvaldo Rojas, recording a pair of bullet works in the 28-day interim.
Green Gratto breaks fast and corners well, leading at every call to the stretch drive in his last three starts, and the former Aqueduct inner-track specialist showed a preference for the Belmont main track last time.
He brings positive momentum into the Belmont Sprint and figures to be overlooked in the wagering due to class concerns (in-form horses stepping up in class is one of my favorite betting angles).
I’ll be playing the front-running Green Gratto on Saturday.