This Man O’ War field is deserving of its Grade 1 status. Many of the top U.S. turf horses have lined up for this 11-furlong test. The two favorites enter with strong credentials. Hi Happy (7) looks like the horse to beat following his visually impressive score in the Pan American at Gulfstream last time. This runner came to the United States in late 2016 after winning a string of Group 1 races in his native Argentina. However, it took him many months to really hit his stride. Since switching to Todd Pletcher’s barn, he’s looked like a new horse. He ran deceptively well in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf two back and showed his true ability when stretched out to 12 furlongs last time. His tactical speed makes him dangerous in these longer turf races, which usually feature moderate early paces.
Hi Happy will be tough to run down, but I nevertheless have to bet his rival SADLER’S JOY (2) here at what figures to be a slightly better price. This 5-year-old horse is in the best form of his career. He got very good last summer and has continued his progression. His fourth-place finish in last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Turf was quite an accomplishment, and he was an impressive winner of the Mac Diarmida over the winter. His last race may look disappointing at first glance, but he never had a chance to make up ground that day in a race that was dominated on the front end. He should appreciate getting back to Belmont Park. A price of 3-1 or greater would be generous.
I’ll also use Call Provision (6), who got his prep last time and is improving, and longshot Postulation (1), whose April race was stronger than it appears and who will appreciate the stretch-out.
Exacta Key Box: 2 with 1,5,6,7
Trifecta: 2 with 1,6,7 with 1,5,6,7,9