Laura Pugh's Plays of Super Saturday
by Laura Pugh
I’ve always been a fan of trying to solve puzzles, and what better puzzles are there than horse races? You have to take several pieces of information and determine which pieces are viable and then use those pieces of information to pick out what horse has the best chance at winning.
Today’s Super Saturday card, at Belmont Park has become the ultimate puzzle and, with the addition of a sloppy track, it’s become the perfect puzzle for me to tackle.
The Kelso is the first of the stake on Super Saturday it could be the perfect race for an upset. Honor Code has proven to be a complete beast in the mud and over the Belmont strip. In fact, remember that he won the Met Mile (G1) over this same strip in June. However, he isn’t the only one proven at handling a sloppy strip.
Appealing Tale, like Honor Code, broke his maiden with a dominant score over an off track. In the Kelso he could get an uncontested lead, which could spell trouble for Honor Code.
Next up are a pair of juvenile races, which always are fun to piece together. First is the Frizette, and one filly with a huge chance – if the conditions stay the same – is Desert Tune. She is the only filly in the race with experience over Belmont’s oval and in the mud.
The blatant favorite, She’s All Ready, will likely get a very easy lead here, and that is exactly how she has won her two other starts, wiring state bred foes. If she gets another easy lead and takes to the surface, she’ll be tough.
The European import Nemoralia is also quite interesting as she brings a wildcard factor to the field. She will also be getting Lasix for the first time, which could move her up, if she should need a boost.
The Champagne is the second of the baby races, and I have to say I’m quite surprised at some of the odds. Magna Light, who was DQ’ed from first in the Sanford and was the Hopeful runner-up, is fifth choice at 6-1. He broke his maiden over a muddy Belmont surface, winning by over four lengths, making me feel that he could very well turn the tables on Hopeful winner Ralis, who has never experience mud. His past performances also indicate he could end up being the controlling speed, which could be a huge advantage.
I also can’t help but like Ready Dancer. His trainer has proven dominant in this race, winning four out of the five last runnings, one of those with jockey Johnny Velasquez as the pilot.
Finally comes the featured race, the Jockey Club Gold Cup, which boasts a small but fierce field of six. Tonalist is the obvious favorite, and with his history over mud and at Belmont he should be. However, it is in these small fields that we see some of the largest upsets.
Coach Inge has been knocking on the door al year, and he has come painstakingly close more than once. He’s a proven mud fiend and has demonstrated an affinity for Belmont. Chances are he’ll make the lead or sit just off of Constitution, who could also run a big race.
Constitution prepped for this race on the grass, in the Bernard Barunch (G2), where he held the lead for all but the final sixteenth of the race. If that race set him up for his best there is no denying that he is the fastest and most naturally gifted horse in the field. I also have a hard time believing Pletcher would enter a horse of this caliber, in this spot, if he weren’t ready to give his best.
Final picks for me are as follows:
Kelso: Appealing Tale, Honor Code
Frizette: Desert Tune, She’s All Ready, Nemoralia
Champagne: Magna Light, Ralis, Ready Dancer
Jockey Club Gold Cup: Coach Inge, Tonalist, Constitution