Speed Makes Lull Dangerous in Just a Game Stakes

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

June 6th, 2018

She won’t be the most popular choice in the wagering, but I have the feeling that #4 Lull might get out in front and forget to stop in Saturday’s $700,000 Just a Game Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park.

When this talented daughter of War Front gets out near the lead through fast fractions, she can be almost impossible to run down. Just look at what she accomplished in the Honey Fox Stakes (gr. III) on March 31st at Gulfstream Park, going the same one-mile distance as the Just a Game—she sprinted to the lead through blazing fractions of :22.44, :45.06, and 1:08.56 (earning BRIS E1 and E2 pace figures of 122!) before holding off the closers to win by a nose in 1:33.14 seconds.

That performance wasn’t a fluke either—in the Autumn Miss Stakes (gr. III) last fall at Santa Anita, Lull tracked fractions of :22.35, :45.00, and 1:08.58 before powering clear to stop the clock in 1:32.66. In between those two efforts, Lull suffered a rough trip while trying to rally from off the pace in the Matriarch Stakes (gr. I), but still wasn’t badly beaten while finishing fifth in a large field.

The incredibly fast turf course at Belmont Park should be perfect for a filly like Lull, especially since the Just a Game Stakes contains very little speed on paper. I don’t think Lull will have any trouble securing the early lead with Eclipse Award-winning rider Jose Ortiz in the saddle, and from there, catching her could prove difficult or impossible.

#1 On Leave finished just a half-length behind Lull in the Honey Fox and is 4-for-5 at Belmont Park, while #7 A Raving Beauty was impressive winning the Beaugay Stakes (gr. III) over a “good” turf course at Belmont in her debut for trainer Chad Brown. Both figure to be among the major players in the Just a Game, along with the three-time graded stakes winner #5 Proctor’s Ledge and the Matriarch Stakes (gr. I) winner #3 Off Limits. However, Proctor’s Ledge can be a bit inconsistent and Off Limits has seemed to be at something less than her best so far this season, so both could be vulnerable at relatively short prices on Saturday.

In this competitive race with plenty of options to consider, I think that Lull at 5-1 offers the best value in the race, so I’ll bet her to win and key her in the exacta with a few of the other main contenders:

$10 to win on #4 Lull $3 exacta: 4 with 1,7 ($6) $3 exacta: 1,7 with 4 ($6) $2 exacta: 4 with 3,5 ($4) $2 exacta: 3,5 with 4 ($4)

Good luck!