Mucciolo’s Belmont Friday Stakes Plays
#7 SALMANAZAR was a very sharp debut winner at Keeneland while well-backed from the widest post and I like the colt right back in this spot. One of four from Todd Pletcher’s barn, the $180,000 yearling was flattered when the runner-up from his debut came right back to win, rolling home by eight lengths at 3-5 odds at Churchill Downs. Salmanazar also gets a fine post near the outside and the presence of John Velazquez, who piloted the colt in his initial offering.
True North (Race 8):
I have been on the Whitmore bandwagon as much as anyone this season but if there is ever a time to take a chance against the superb sprinter, this might be it. #3 NOHOLDINGBACK BEAR gets my upset nod the second time out in 2017, which is also his second try since being transferred to the barn of Brian Lynch. Bay son of Put it Back impressed me with his progress towards the end of his sophomore campaign and enters this race with a fine prep when second in the Diablo S. on this strip. Noholdingback Bear will be a bit closer early and figures to get first run turning for home under Joel Rosario.
New York (Race 9):
A standout field of turf distaffers make this a tough race to decipher and I will go with Juddmonte homebred #2 SUFFUSED in a minor upset. Trained by Bill Mott, the chestnut mare is as consistent as they come since arriving in the U.S., running well at both at the distance and Belmont turf course. Daughter of Champs Elysees will benefit from a post draw near the fence and give Jose Ortiz every chance in the stretch. I thought her runner-up finish in the Sheepshead Bay (G2) was a perfect prep for this affair.
Belmont Gold Cup (Race 10):
#10 RED CARDINAL gets my selection in this turf marathon. Five-year-old son of Montjeu kicked off his 2017 campaign in style, posting a Group 2 tally in Germany, and the consistently good sort has never missed the board from eight lifetime races. He proved good at 2 miles in his latest offering and I think it’s a huge positive that Eduardo Pedroza, who was up last time, comes across the pond to ride. Conditioner Andreas Wohler should have the gelding ready for his best.
Bed O’ Roses (Race 11):
#9 BY THE MOON loves Belmont. The defending champ comes in off of a Grade 3 win and has pace in a field where it appears no horse wants the early lead. Michelle Nevin-trained Grade 1 heroine can handle any kind of footing and her draw near the outside should ensure a clear voyage over “Big Sandy.” Daughter of Indian Charlie might not have a lot of value, but closing out a late Pick 4 or Pick 6 with By the Moon wouldn’t be a bad thing in my opinion.
(Photo: By the Moon winning the Vagrancy (G3) at Belmont Park on May 5)