Saturday’s TimeformUS Highlight Horse: Focus Group stretches back out to a more appropriate distance

Belmont | Race 8 | Post Time 5:13 p.m. (ET) | Go to the TimeformUS PPs
Gauguin (#3) has run the fastest races and obviously handles this distance. He’s a deserving favorite here, but nothing about him really excites me. He was justifiably disqualified and placed behind Rocketry two back, and then benefited from a legitimate pace when second-best to that same foe last time. One scenario that could potentially beat him is if Memories of Peter (#4) gets left alone on the lead today. There doesn’t appear to be that much early speed in this field, and Memories of Peter can be very dangerous in races at this distance when he has circumstances in his favor. That said, his best efforts aren’t quite as strong as those of Gauguin, so they’re going to have to step up their game to beat this favorite.
I think there’s at least one runner in this field who has significant room for improvement.
FOCUS GROUP (#2) was visually impressive when winning his maiden at Saratoga two back. He clearly relished the stretch-out in distance to 11 furlongs and came with a powerful stretch run to close down the leaders late. His first start against winners looks very disappointing at first glance, but he never was given a proper chance that day. The Saratoga turf course was especially kind to runners with inside position at that point in the meet, and he was wide and rated well off a glacial early pace that held together. He’s going to appreciate getting more ground to work with this time, and I don’t think we’ve seen the best of this colt yet.
Win: 2
Exacta Key Box: 2 with 3,4,8,9,10
Trifecta: 2 with 3,4 with 3,4,8,9,10
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