Race 8: The True North certainly lost some of its star power with the pre-announced scratch of Private Zone. That could potentially leave Holy Boss (#1) as the controlling speed from the rail. Dads Caps also has some early zip, but he’s been less aggressively ridden since the switch to Irad Ortiz two races back. Holy Boss rarely runs a bad race and should appreciate the slight cutback in distance to six furlongs. He’ll definitely be on our tickets, but he’ll be hard-pressed to hold off the in-form ALWAYS SUNSHINE (#6). This Ned Allard-trained colt has finally put it all together, reeling off four wins in his last five starts. Last time he beat a decent field of runners in the mud, but he’s equally as adept over fast tracks, as is evidenced by the 120 and 121 speed figures he recorded in his two prior starts. We prefer these two runners to Catalina Red (#5), who was the surprise winner of the Churchill Downs Handicap on Derby day. This horse took a huge step forward in his first start for Jorge Navarro, who has unrivaled success out of town but has historically struggled when trying to replicate those feats in New York.
Selections: 6 – 1 – 5 – 2
Race 9: We’re not trying to beat the heavy favorite SEA CALISI (#1), who was absolutely stellar in her U.S. debut in the Sheepshead Bay. Victory seemingly never in doubt, she inhaled the frontrunners with devastating ease coming off the far turn and was never asked for her best in the late stages by Jose Ortiz, who is back aboard today. This filly had previously been competitive with some of the best in her class in Europe last year and appears to be superior to her rivals today. We’ll make it a Chad Brown exacta by trying to get Dacita (#2) to rally into second. This mare needs a firm turf course and she’s likely to get it here. Her major claim to fame is that she’s the last horse to beat the champion Tepin, which she accomplished last summer at Saratoga. Her recent form may leave something to be desired, but she had to swing very wide when making her rallies in The Very One and the Jenny Wiley. Those performances are better than they appear. Finally, Trophee (#3) might be able to sneak into the trifecta. This half-sister to Treve took a while to figure things out, but she’s coming into this race in the best form of her career.
Selections: 1 – 2 – 3 – 5
Race 10: The Belmont Gold Cup is largely a guessing game, since so few of these runners have ever gone this far. Of the horses that have run well in Grade 1 and Grade 2 company in this country, the only one that we would use prominently is Da Big Hoss (#5). This horse gives us the feeling that he can run all day, and his tactical speed should put him in a good spot early under Florent Geroux. We’re less enamored with other proven graded stakes performers like Up With the Birds, Kaigun, and Twilight Eclipse, who all project to take plenty of money here and are total unknowns at this extreme distance. We’re instead more interested in a few prices. Our top pick is NOW WE CAN (#13), who makes the trip overseas for Nicholas Clement. This horse has eased back into tougher races since returning from a nearly two-year layoff earlier this spring, but has been competitive with some nice horses going back through his career. While he wasn’t successful in his lone start at two miles, at least he’s tried it before, and he does own wins at 14 and 14.5 furlongs back in 2013. We could also use massive long shot Silver Lime (#8), who was a winner at 14 furlongs in England, and hasn’t had his best shot in a few shorter races in this country. Even Biz the Nurse (#11), who has largely been a disappointment since coming over from Italy, could be dismissed at an inflated price.
Selections: 13 – 5 – 8 – 11
Race 11: We’re most interested in HEAVENLY SUN (#1), whose campaign was cut short last summer after two awful trips over the Saratoga turf course. He was basically eliminated at the start twice in a row through no fault of his own. This horse had run competitive speed figures last spring at Belmont, including his best performance ever off a lengthy layoff. We wish the connections had named a different rider, but he has drawn a good post position for this course. Rooftop View (#9) finds himself in a much easier spot after getting caught up in a quick pace two back and getting hung wide last time while facing much tougher maiden special weight competition. First-time gelding Street Fightin Man (#7) is also a logical player off the layoff.
Selections: 1 – 9 – 7 – 3