Today in Racing, May 29, 2014

Social Inclusion had his bandage come loose while galloping at Belmont this morning….

Wait….Social Inclusion?  What the hell is he doing here?  He’s not running in the Belmont, is he?

Social Inclusion is under consideration for both the Belmont and seven-furlong Woody Stephens on the undercard, but nobody expects owner Ron Sanchez to opt for a lesser spotlight. [Brisnet]

Well yeah, the Woody Stephens – the sprint stakes so cleverly named for a trainer who won five straight Belmont Stakes – makes perfect sense.  But why, in only his fifth lifetime start, would they possibly try the mile and a half race?  Social Inclusion clearly did not look happy on the track before the Preakness, a race for which he missed training/racing time with a foot problem.  And though he flashed his prodigious talent with a move on the turn (despite being taken out of his preferred game of being on the lead), does anyone think that stretching him out to this ungodly distance is in any way in the best interest of anyone but his connections?  I mean, where is the PETA investigator when you need her??

Good report on Ride on Curlin from the DRF Clocker Mike Welsch, who tweets that the Preakness runner-up is “handling T Crown grind well.”

Tonalist is another one getting good reviews as he prepares for the Belmont.  In winning the Peter Pan, he earned a TFUS speed figure of 102 (which will actually appear as a 98 in the Belmont Stakes running lines due to the 126 pounds he’ll carry that day). While that’s significantly below the 116 that Cali Chrome earned in the Preakness, it’s more important that he’s moving forward, having improved his figure in each race.

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Gotta love his pedigree too.  He’s a son of Tapit out of a mare by the Derby/Preakness winner Pleasant Colony (3rd in the Belmont) who’s a half to the dam of Havre de Grace, and to the dam of the classy Riskaverse, who won turf stakes up to a mile and a quarter. This is also the distaff family of Christiecat, another graded winner on grass at ten furlongs; and the Florida Derby/Wood/Jim Dandy winner Plugged Nickel, who didn’t win beyond a mile and an eighth, but who is one of my favorite horses of all time and that has to count for something, right?

And of course, California Chrome continues to thrive.  Man, this bubble is gonna burst really hard, isn’t it?  He is scheduled to breeze on Saturday morning, around 6:30 AM (possibly earlier, we’re told), and Belmont will be opening its gates for breakfast early to accommodate those who want to get up early and see him.  I will still be in bed.

– In the 6th at Belmont today, Persnickity (4-1) cuts back to a sprint in her third start since being claimed by trainer Robert Barbara.  This four-year old daughter of the speedy Value Plus had been racing on dirt over the winter; and this seems like a sly claim as the Screen Shot 2014-05-29 at 10.50.19 AMbarn gets her back on the surface on which she’s run her best races.  Her two races off the claim, both at 1 1/16 miles, were both fine; a second and, in her last, an even 5th when she was caught behind a dawdling pace.  She has done quite well sprinting on firm turf and should appreciate the conditions today.

Those conditions also seem to suit her capable trainer, who has some ratings relevant to today’s race that exceed his general performance.

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And the route-to-sprint move served Persnickity well (for different connections) on a couple of occasions last year.

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Morning line favorite Chelsea Road (9-5) comes off a couple of fruitless tries on the Keeneland Poly.  She has some good back form sprinting on grass, but would seem to be an underlay at her morning line.  Sunrise Kitty (2-1) drops in class and takes this on her best effort.  But her trainer has been having problems keeping her on the track of late, and she feels a little shaky here.

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For a real expert opinion on today’s Belmont card, check out Mike Beer’s full card analysis on the NYRA site.  We also have Mike’s Top Play of the day here, and our Horses in Focus post here.  Best of luck and have a great day!

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