Mucciolo: Opening Day plays at Belmont Park
Belmont Park (c) NYRA/Brittlan Wall/Adam Coglianese Photography
It’s never a joyous occasion when the racing at Saratoga concludes. The dynamic session was sensational once again in 2018 but another great one begins when the Belmont Fall Championship meet kicks off on Friday.
The superb 36-day stanza will offer 44 stakes in total, including seven “Win & You’re In” qualifiers for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. And this is perhaps my favorite meeting on the racing calendar.
Nine races are on tap for opening day, led by the $100,000 Christiecat Stakes. I have tabbed a quartet of price horses of interest to me:
MERCURIAN (#5) (8-1) makes a first outing since the barn change to Emron Ibrahim. The Flatter filly didn’t make much of an impact in two tries at the Spa, but the sophomore has done some of her best work at Belmont Park with a pair of wins and a second from four local assignments. I expect big improvement at a number today.
This is a really good allowance affair for Empire State-bred fillies of stakes quality. BABY BOSS (#3) (8-1) chased lone speed over a speed-favoring strip at Saratoga recently when finishing third. The Jeremiah Englehart filly is a stakes heroine who ran a big one with black-type foes in her latest Belmont venture on the main track. The Frost Giant three-year-old may be the one to catch with a clean break under Luis Saez.
STEAMY WINDOWS (#8) (8-1) is from a family of talented turf performers and could be next in line. The Giant’s Causeway filly has not missed a beat in the mornings since June and will be fit today. Trainer Graham Motion didn’t have a strong Saratoga meeting but I expect him to be saddling live runners at Belmont. I am also very intrigued that Jose Ortiz opts to guide the filly.
STREETLADY (#9) (15-1) has done little wrong from three lifetime runs, being a head shy of being unbeaten. The Michael Stidham charge makes a first outing since the winter and faces a strong field, but I thought her lone turf run to date was excellent when dominating at 2-1. The Street Boss filly has the right running style for the race with Joe Bravo up. I expect the chestnut to be in a striking position at the top of the lane at a big number.