Scully: Stakes spot plays for July 10
A pair of Grade 1 turf stakes for three-year-olds, the $1 million Belmont Derby and $700,000 Belmont Oaks, highlight the final Saturday program of the Belmont spring/summer meet, and Delaware Park will offer its signature race, the 84th running of the $400,000 Delaware H. (G2).
I’ll provide some thoughts for Belmont and Delaware, as well as a pick for the Selene (G3) at Woodbine.
Belmont Oaks (G1) – Race 7 (4:06 p.m. ET)
After faltering as the favorite in the Epsom Oaks (G1), #5 Santa Barbara bounced back with a good neck second to elder rival Thundering Nights in the Pretty Polly (G1) at The Curragh. The Irish-bred Camelot filly has gained valuable experience in three Group 1 appearances this season, and Saturday’s 1 1/4-mile distance is a perfect fit. And Santa Barbara should relish the class relief, as well.
I will key Santa Barbara in a couple of straight exactas over #2 Cirona, who should show more tactical speed with Jose Lezcano after being too far back in the early stages last time; and #8 Gam’s Mission (8-1), who exits a fine score in the Regret (G3) and has displayed a sharp turn of foot winning three in a row.
Victory Ride (G3), Belmont Park – Race 8 (4:38 p.m. ET)
If #4 Ova Charged doesn’t scratch in favor of a Monmouth Park stakes, a fast pace appears likely. And that will favor #5 Souper Sensational, who looks poised to keep showing more at the seven-furlong trip after a troubled fourth in the Eight Belles (G2).
After a pair of convincing juvenile wins, including the Glorious Song S. over Woodbine’s Tapeta, Souper Sensational was given every opportunity at two-turn distances this year, recording three consecutive stakes attempts. But she’s better sprinting and connections finally cut her back in trip last time. Things didn’t go as planned, as she was forced to check while blocked in traffic in the stretch, but the Mark Casse-trained Curlin filly finished up well when clear. Souper Sensational will show more on Saturday.
Belmont Derby (G1) – Race 9 (5:12 p.m. ET)
#2 Bolshoi Ballet opened the season with a pair of impressive Group 3 wins at the 1 1/4-mile distance. He sustained a cut on the leg and failed to fire as the prohibitive favorite in the English Derby (G1), but the top-class Galileo colt should have little difficulty bouncing back here for Coolmore and Aidan O’Brien.
I will play a straight exacta over #8 Cellist, who shows improving form for Rusty Arnold. A sharp frontrunning maiden winner three back, the colt rallied to be a nose second when missing the break at Keeneland next out. Cellist does his best running up close, and his near one-length win in the May 29 Audubon S. at Churchill was more authoritative than it looks on paper. Distance will be no issue, and I expect a strong showing from Cellist.
Robert G. Dick Memorial (G3), Delaware Park – Race 5 (3:15 p.m. ET)
#5 Temple City Terror was slow to develop, needing 10 starts before breaking her maiden late in 2019, and the five-year-old didn’t start to get good until recently. Brendan Walsh made a savvy move when stretching her out to longer distances in the May 22 Keertana S. at Churchill -- the daughter of Temple City is able to race closer to the pace at longer distances – and Temple City Terror should sit a good trip in midpack of the Robert Dick before making her presence felt in the final furlongs. I like the up-and-coming mare’s chances in this spot.
Delaware H. (G2) – Race 9 (5:15 p.m. ET)
Multiple graded stakes winner #5 Bonny South may prove too good for these foes, but the late runner has finished second in four of her last five starts. #1 Gibberish rates a shot for the upset as the projected lone speed, and the four-year-old filly will be used in any horizontal or vertical wagers. Trained by Saffie Joseph, Gibberish exits her best performance to date, a runner-up effort in the June 6 Lady’s Secret S. at Monmouth Park, and she’s drawn well at the rail.
Selene (G3), Woodbine – Race 7 (4:21 p.m.)
Since being freshened earlier this year, #7 Munnyfor Ro has improved significantly in her last three starts. Those races came on turf, but the Munnings filly is eligible to make a seamless transition to Tapeta for Kevin Attard. A close third to Gam’s Mission in a Churchill allowance two back, Munnyfor Ro offered a solid move when making her stakes debut against much better in the May 29 Regret. She’s listed at an appealing 8-1 on the morning line.