Hanson: How I'm playing the Belmont Stakes Day card
Although some of the graded events came up with short fields, Saturday's Belmont Stakes Day program is a dandy, with plenty of appealing options.
We'll have a couple spot plays early in the card, followed by a Pick 4 bet that ends with the "Test of the Champion."
Race 4: Brooklyn S. (G2), 1:22 p.m. ET
Perhaps it will be difficult to win over 1 1/2 miles in his season debut, but #6 Moretti (4-1) was arguably the best stayer on this circuit last season, when victories in the Flat Out S. and Birdstone S. sufficed, as the Brooklyn was put on hiatus because of the pandemic.
He appears to be coming into this race in good shape, given his work pattern, and trainer Todd Pletcher has multiple wins in this marathon race.
Race 6: Jaipur S. (G1), 2:41 p.m. ET
California invader #8 Gregorian Chant (10-1) might be flying in under the radar, but he has developed into his home base's best turf sprinter, with three consecutive wins over six furlongs for trainer Phil D'Amato, who has astutely discovered what this gray gelding does best.
He'll encounter footing softer than he is familiar with but will get some pace to chase and has as good a late kick as anyone here.
Our Late Pick 4 play starts with Race 8 and runs through Race 11.
Race 8: Just a Game S. (G1), 3:58 p.m. ET
A wide-open edition of this race obviously must include trainer Chad Brown.
#4 Regal Glory (8-1) was compromised a couple times last year, when stablemate Newspaperofrecord was able to steal away to a couple victories, but her form since then has been strong. Both she and stablemate #6 Pocket Square (5-1) possess strong wet-turf form.
We'll also use the imported Godolphin duo of #8 Althiqa (8-1) and #9 Summer Romance (6-1), who look evenly matched on paper.
Race 9: Metropolitan H. (G1), 4:42 p.m. ET
We'll take a chance and fade likely favorite #6 Knicks Go, with #1 Mischevious Alex (5-2), who has gone from strength to strength this season since he joined the Saffie Joseph barn.
#2 Dr Post (9-2) has also done quite well around one turn over this surface and would be the beneficiary if an unsustainable pace develops.
Race 10: Manhattan S. (G1), 5:38 p.m. ET
#4 Domestic Spending (3-1) is a "cardiac kid" — he doesn't win by much, but he always seems to get there.
He's preferred in this rematch with #10 Colonial Liam, who he dead-heated with in the Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic (G1) on Kentucky Derby Day at a furlong shorter. #9 Gufo (5-1), who won the Belmont Derby (G1) over this course and distance last fall, just missed off the bench in the Man o' War (G1) and should strip fitter for this.
Race 11: Belmont S. (G1), 6:49 p.m. ET
No horse in nearly a century has won the Preakness S. (G1) and Belmont without having contested the Kentucky Derby (G1), but #3 Rombauer (3-1) could be the one to do it.
He got an ideal setup at Pimlico, but the pace could be honest at Belmont, too, and there are doubts those who will be on or near the lead will stay the mile and a half.
A much improved colt, Rombauer appears to have shaken off his youthful habit of falling far out of it. That tactical foot, plus the addition of two-time Belmont winner John Velazquez, figures to serve him well.
$1 Pick 4: 4,6,8,9 with 1,2 with 4,9 with 3 = $16.