How to play the All-Grade 1 stakes Pick 4 on Belmont Stakes Day

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TwinSpires Staff

June 9th, 2018


There are a slew of options on the wagering menu for horizontal horseplayers this week at Belmont Park, but it is hard to match the quality of the all-Grade 1 Pick 4 that begins with the $700,000 Just a Game and concludes with the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes.

Here are my thoughts on each of the four star-studded events:

Race 8: Just a Game

This mile event over the Belmont sod gets things rolling and like a good portion of the two-turn turf events for fillies and mares in New York it goes through trainer Chad Brown. Brown sends out 5-2-morning line favorite #7 A Raving Beauty, as well as 7-2-second choice #3 Off Limits.

Of the duo, I prefer Off Limits who comes in off a near two-month freshening after a third place finish in the Jenny Wiley (G1) at Keeneland. The six-year-old mare did not have an ideal voyage in that mile and a sixteenth event and also had her effort flattered when the top two finishers came back to run 1-2 on Friday in the $600,000 New York (G2).

Off Limits has shown an affinity for the Belmont grass with 3 wins in 5 tries and should appreciate the slight cutback to eight furlongs. If she gets an honest pace to run at in the Just a Game she should come from well out of it to earn her eighth lifetime victory.

I also will include two four-year-old fillies from the Mark Casse barn that should offer solid value.

#2 Dream Dancing and #8 La Coronel both exit the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (G2) on Kentucky Derby Day at Churchill Downs.

Dream Dancing ran a solid fourth beaten just two lengths at big odds in her first start off a near three-month break. She should move forward in her second try of the form cycle and outrun her 20-1-morning line odds.

Her stablemate La Coronel drew the far outside the first Saturday in May and was much further back than she normally is early on. I expect jockey Jose Lezcano to be much more prominent early from his outside post. If this daughter of Colonel John can sit right off the pace of #4 Lull I think she has a big shot to spring the upset.

Race 9: Met Mile

In an extremely fun edition of the Met Mile I am "all in" on #10 Bee Jersey. The Charles Fipke-owned son of Jersey Town has run back-to-back career best BRIS speed ratings this spring for trainer Steve Asmussen, including an eye-popping five and a half length victory in the Steve Sexton Mile (G3) at Lone Star Park.

Bee Jersey is in razor sharp form for a hot barn and looks like lone speed in his third start of the form cycle. If jockey Ricardo Santana, Jr. can dictate a moderate early tempo he should very tough to catch late in his first start versus Grade 1 foes.

Race 10: Manhattan

The $1 million event at a mile and a quarter over the inner turf course is the most wide-open of the four races including in this Pick 4 sequence. Therefore, I will use several including 30-1-longshot #7 Fashion Business for trainer Phil D'Amato.

The four-year-old gelding failed to find the winners' circle in six starts as three-year-old in the States, but finished full of run in his first try of 2018 against much lesser at Santa Anita last month. The waters get much deeper on Saturday for the son of the great Frankel, but the price and the upside make him worth including for a barn that is red-hot of late on the West Coast. One of the best turf riders in Southern California, Flavien Prat, takes the call.

Race 11: Belmont Stakes

Over the past three weeks I have tried to make a case against dual classic winner #1 Justify. His numbers have regressed after a career best 114 BRIS speed rating in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) giving horseplayers a legitimate reason to take a shot against the 4-5-morning line favorite. Normally this would alarm me too, but after seeing him train the last couple of weeks I expect him to move forward once again and make history as just the second undefeated Triple Crown winner of all time.

He has run well over off goings on a few occasions, but I still think he is best over a fast track. He should get that in the Belmont. If he can avoid going too fast early I expect him to have plenty of run late en route to trainer Bob Baffert's second Triple Crown winner.

Here are my suggested wagers:

Ticket 1: ($1 Pick 4)

2+3+8 with 10 with 1+2+6+7+9+10+11+12 with 1 = $24.

Ticket 2: ($2 Pick 4)

3+8 with 10 with 1+7+10+12 with 1 = $16

Total Budget = $40

Good luck on this incredible card!

(Bee Jersey photo: Coady Photography)