Belmont Highlight Horse for Friday: Cournoyer looks ready to take another step forward

Belmont | Race 2 | Post Time 3:41 p.m. (ET) | Go to the TimeformUS PPs 

This is a pretty wide-open affair in which any of the seven runners can win. The likely favorites are Planet Trailblazer (#1) and Phat Man (#5), who are both coming off runner-up finishes at this level. Phat Man chased wire-to-wire winner Dogtown in the mud, just edging past today’s rival Shadow Rider for second in the late stages. He’s certainly a player, but I think Planet Trailblazer is coming out of the tougher race. That said, the A.C. Avila trainee did get a strong pace to close into in that spot, as did Noble and True, who finished right behind him in third. They’re both contenders once again, but I prefer a different runner out of that race.

I’m going to try to beat them with COURNOYER (#6), who figures to offer better value than the aforementioned runners. This colt finished behind Planet Trailblazer last time, but I believe he ran the better race. The pace was fast (indicated by red color-coding in the PPs), and Cournoyer was the only horse who contested the early fractions and was still in the mix at the finish. The 109 TimeformUS Speed Figure he earned definitely gives him a chance against this group. Cournoyer was impressive when winning his maiden against inferior competition two back, and Chris Englehart has confidently moved him up in class since then. This improving 3-year-old may be ready to take another step forward.

THE PLAY 

Win/Place: 6

Exacta Key Box: 6 with 1,2,4,5

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