This is hardly the toughest New York-bred N1X allowance race we’ve run this year. While Heated Verdict (#6) is the horse to beat, he’s so obvious that he could end up going off at a shorter price than his recent form actually merits. Instead, I prefer the runner that finished just behind him last time. Heated Verdict had some documented early issues in his last race—he was off a step slowly and was somewhat rank through the opening furlong. Yet he worked out an absolutely perfect trip thereafter.
The same cannot be said for FEARTHEFALCON (#5), who was never able to get to the rail, which was important during a time period when that was the place to be on the turf course. Furthermore, Manny Franco had to wait too long to find room at the top of the stretch as Heated Verdict got the jump on him. There is no doubt in my mind that Fearthefalcon would have beaten today’s favorite had their trips been swapped. I find it encouraging that Steve Klesaris’s runners have been performing well so far at Belmont, and I think this gelding can pull off the minor upset today.
Others that I would use along with my top selection are Humboldt and Frost (#1), who is a question mark at six furlongs but handles the turf and is predicted to be on the lead in a situation favoring the frontrunner, and Excluded (#8), who was overmatched going two turns last time but had previously finished a decent third sprinting at this level.
Exacta Key Box: 5 with 1,6,8