How to bet the First Defence Stakes
An overflow field of 16, two of which are main track-only entries, will contest the $80,000 First Defence S. at Belmont Park on Sunday. The 7-furlong turf endeavor is among the most appealing betting races on the card with a slew of win contenders in the mix.
First Defence Analysis
The pace of the First Defence will be swift with #8 Skyler’s Scramjet and #10 Vici showing speed. I will tab a horse who will rally from off the early tempo.
First Defence Contenders
#1 FLAVIUS (7-2) -- War Front 5-year-old was a close fourth in the grassy Fort Lauderdale (G2) most recently for Chad Brown. Juddmonte homebred will be equipped with blinkers for the first time, and the lightly raced Kentucky-bred should benefit from a ground-saving trip along the rail. Jose Ortiz rides.
#2 SOMBEYAY (4-1) -- Pletcher charge brings excellent form to the field with four consecutive top-two results on the sod. Into Mischief colt was a fine runner-up in the Appleton (G3) in his latest venture, and I feel that today’s distance will be ideal for the 4-year-old. Javier Castellano has the call.
#3 JAKARTA (50-1) -- Is a likely scratch after competing in Saturday's Intercontinental (G3) at Belmont.
#4 DELAWARE (8-1) -- Frankel colt will make his U. S. debut as a logical contender. Juddmonte homebred is a Group 3 winner who knocked heads with some talented foes in 2019, and he could be any kind on Sunday beneath Rosario.
#5 WIN WIN WIN (8-1) -- Hat Trick colt looked the part when making his grassy debut in the Manila S., driving home a fine winner on the course in a rapid final time. Dark bay is unraced since July, but the works have been solid and the colt runs well while fresh, as well. John Velazquez riding adds to the appeal.
#6 NICODEMUS (10-1) -- Rice pupil has a sharp turn of foot on the main surface and will try to duplicate that in his turf debut. Candy Ride 5-year-old could challenge for a minor share if he takes to the lawn.
#7 SEISMIC WAVE (10-1) -- Upset pick capped a solid 2019 campaign with a score in the English Channel S. on the course. Chestnut son of Tapit shows a long string of swift morning drills in advance of his 4-year-old bow, and I love the cutback in trip for his first offering of the season. Eric Cancel picks up the live mount on the late runner.
#8 SKYLER’S SCRAMJET (30-1) -- Nevin trainee was unplaced in a lone run on the sod in his lifetime, and he looks overmatched to me.
#9 HAWKISH (15-1) -- Grade 2 star showed little at Gulfstream Park in his first outing of the year last time out. Toner charge has a big turn of foot on his best day, and the Artie Schiller gelding wouldn’t be a huge surprise at big odds.
#10 VICI (20-1) -- 8-year-old War Front gelding has hit the board in his four previous efforts on the Belmont turf. David Donk trainee is consistent if nothing else, and he could be a good one to include in the vertical gimmicks at a square number. Dark bay will be forwardly placed from the start.
#11 HONOR UP (20-1) -- Multiple stakes winner is 1-for-2 on turf in his lifetime and is winless since February of 2019. I will let the To Honor and Serve 5-year-old beat me in this demanding assignment.
#12 MAJESTIC DUNHILL (15-1) -- Interesting son of Majesticperfection has a fine turn of foot and returns to the grass following seven straight on the main surface. Weaver trainee owns a trio of lifetime tallies on the green, and he could make a lot of noise late if the pace backs up in the stretch.
#13 LONHTWIST (30-1) -- Bay comes in with victories in two of his last three and has shown improvement since adding blinkers four back. Kentucky-bred still looks to be a cut below the best in this field, however.
#14 THERAPIST (5-1) -- Empire State-bred is 4-for-8 on the Belmont turf for Clement. Talented son of Freud gets Irad to take the reins and is also training well, but overcoming the widest post in the field will be a difficult task. Top-three contender will stalk the pace from the early stages.
#15 COMPLEXITY (5-2) -- Main track-only entrant rates a huge chance if the event comes off the green. Grade 1 victor would be a menacing figure if he drew into the cast.
#16 STAN THE MAN (8-1) -- This main track-only entrant has missed the board in his last two races, and I can’t endorse him in his current form cycle.
First Defence Wagers
- $10 Win and Place #7 Seismic Wave ($20)
- $1 Trifecta: 2,7 with 2,7 with all ($24)