How to bet the Belmont Super Saturday stakes
Imperial Hint wins the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Stakes (G1) at Saratoga (c) NYRA/Elsa Lorieul/Adam Coglianese Photography
by Scott Shapiro
The stakes action commences at approximately 4:09 p.m. (ET) with the Vosburgh Stakes (G1) and is followed by the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1). The $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) concludes the graded action. Here are my thoughts:
RACE 7: Vosburgh
A spot in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) is at stake in this six-furlong dash over Belmont’s main track.
IMPERIAL HINT (#6) is the 1-5 morning-line favorite off a 3 3/4-length romp in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (G1) at Saratoga in late July. The son of Imperialism has been as consistent as they come, winning seven of his last nine for trainer Luis Carvajal Jr. and draws favorably towards the outside on Saturday. Look for Javier Castellano to stalk the early pace of STILL KRZ (#7) (15-1) and find his way to the winners’ circle for the 12th time in his career.
For those looking for a bit more “bang for their buck,” perhaps MR. CROW (#4) (5-1) is worth consideration. The Kra Stud Farm colt was off a step slow and lacked room along the inside in the Tale of the Cat Stakes on August 10 at the Spa before finishing a tough luck last in a field of five. If jockey Luis Saez can avoid trouble he should be good enough to pick up the pieces. Defeating Imperial Hint, though, will be a tough task.
RACE 8: Joe Hirsch Turf Classic
Eight turf routers compete for a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) in this $500,000 event at 1 1/2 miles over the sod.
ROBERT BRUCE (#1) is listed as the 2-1-morning-line chalk after a half-length win in the Arlington Million (G1) back in August. The Chilean-bred son of Fast Company took advantage of a positive race shape and ran on late to earn his eighth victory in 9 lifetime tries. The four-year-old colt is certainly a deserving favorite, but the stretch out to a mile and a half and a lack of early zip signed on makes taking a shot against him in this spot worthwhile.
HI HAPPY (#2) (6-1) has not been the same horse of late after rattling off a pair of graded wins in the spring for trainer Todd Pletcher. Part of that may be stronger competition over his last three tries, but he also has not had things his way of late. The son of Pure Prize reunites with Luis Saez on Saturday. If Saez is aggressive from the gate and can dictate a moderate early tempo, he can steal this one in gate-to-wire fashion.
SPRING QUALITY (#6) (4-1) also merits respect in the Turf Classic. This Augustin Stable gelding ran third in his first start off the freshening in the Sword Dancer (G1), but I can forgive that effort since he ran against the flow in a race where the top two finishers ran 1-2 all the way around the track. If veteran Edgar Prado can find a comfortable spot just off the early lead, he can earn his second victory in four career races over the Belmont lawn.
SADLER’S JOY (#3) (5-1) has struggled to win races even when he has put forth his best efforts of late, so endorsing him on top is not for me. However, if they go faster than I anticipate early on he makes for an excellent key horse underneath in the exotics.
RACE 10: Jockey Club Gold Cup
The featured 1 1/4-mile event over the main track not only rewards the victor with the lion’s share of the $750,000 purse, but also a spot in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).
The field is led by DIVERSIFY (#6) (4-5). The winner of three straight, including the Suburban (G2) and most recently the Whitney (G1), comes into the Gold Cup in fine form and once again should have things his way on the front end. His six-for-eight record with two seconds at Big Sandy and perfect two-for-two mark at the 10-furlong distance make him a horse I have no interest in trying to beat.
$15 Daily Double
6 with 2+6 = $30
$5 Exacta Wheel
2+6 with 2+3+6 = $20
TOTAL BUDGET = $50