How to bet the 2018 Athenia Stakes at Belmont Park

Profile Picture:

TwinSpires Staff

October 19th, 2018

On Leave winning the One Dreamer Stakes at Kentucky Downs (c) Reed Palmer Photography

by Dick Powell

I like handicapping challenges but Sunday’s Athenia Stakes (G3) at Belmont Park for fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles on the inner turf course is a real headscratcher. The weather should be fine and there is little danger that the race will be switched off the turf. Let’s take a look at each of the nine runners to see what we can uncover.

RYMSKA (#1) (9-2) won two straight Grade 3s last year before taking a listed contest at Saratoga. In her only start this year, she missed by a nose going a two-turn mile at Saratoga against high-class allowance foes when stuck behind a glacial pace. Chad Brown wins 27 percent off medium rest, and the daughter of French sire Le Havre draws the rail with Irad Ortiz Jr.

HAWKSMOOR (#2) (5-1) ran well at Saratoga when she tried to take the Diana Stakes (G1) gate to wire, only giving it up in the stretch to horses like Sistercharlie, who would be odds-on in here. Hawksmoor came back with a pair of seconds in the Ballston Spa Stakes (G2) and Noble Damsel Stakes (G3), and fits with these from a pace and class perspective.

NEW MONEY HONEY (#3) (3-1) was a Grade 1 winner on the turf last year for Brown but has been a bit of a disappointment this year. Off for six months, she returned going this distance on this course June 21 and won by a neck in fast time. I loved her in the Diana but she was no match for stablemate Sistercharlie and didn’t respond the way I thought she would when the running got serious. Last out at Woodbine, she held on for second in the Canadian Stakes (Can-G2). On her best days, the Medaglia d’Oro filly can use her speed to set up shop and stalk the pace. With three starts under her belt this year and a drop in class, maybe she delivers in this spot.

INDIAN BLESSING (#4) (8-1) is a Euro shipper who was a good third while making her American debut in the Ballston Spa going this distance at Saratoga over very firm ground. She came back at Keeneland for the First Lady Stakes (G1) two weeks ago and was wiped out at the start but rallied nicely for third. She is a victim of what happens in front of her but might appreciate the inner turf course, which is still wider than any other American turf course.

MYTHICAL MISSION (#5) (20-1) beat lesser foes two starts back then rallied for second on yielding ground at Laurel Park in the All Along Stakes race going this distance. The daughter of Giant’s Causeway has been training well on the Tapeta at Fair Hills training center for Graham Motion, who is 25 percent when he uses Jorge Vargas Jr.

INFLEXIBILITY (#6) (7-2) is a restricted stakes winner from Canada who was only beaten two lengths in the Beverly D. Stakes (G1) two starts back. She came back at Woodbine and held on for third in the Canadian as the even-money favorite for Chad Brown, who wins 26 percent with his turf starters.

PAS DE SOUCIS (#7) (10-1) is a listed stakes winner in France going shorter and has had five starts in American, but has yet to break through in stakes company. She had a rough trip last out at Kentucky Downs going a mile in the Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf (G3) for the red-hot Jorge Abreu.

CANDY STORE (#8) (15-1) is a Group 3 winner in Italy and has made two starts stateside. She was an even fourth against Belmont allowance foes on yielding turf, then came back and beat the same level by a nose at Saratoga where she went gate to wire. David Cohen is an aggressive rider so look for him to send this daughter of Lope de Vega to the front and try to hang on.

ON LEAVE (#9) (6-1) finished up last year taking the My Charmer Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park. She ran well at Belmont in the Just a Game Stakes (G1) going a mile after being shuffled back from post 1, then chased a slow pace on soft turf at Saratoga in the De La Rose Stakes. Last out, trainer Shug McGaughey added blinkers for the first time and the daughter of War Front responded with a sharp win at Kentucky Downs in the One Dreamer Stakes. Joel Rosario will probably take her back and make one run.


Win: #8
Exacta Key Box: #8 with 1, 9