Belmont Park | Race 2 | Post Time 3:37 p.m. (ET) | Go to the TimeformUS PPs
I suppose Fuel the Bern (#1) is the horse to beat as he ships up from Florida off a series of solid performances. He’s tried a variety of distances, but his best effort was arguably his turf debut, which came going today’s 7-furlong distance last fall. While it’s somewhat of a negative that he was dropped in for a $16,000 tag in March, he’s since turned around his form and actually finished just behind a good horse last time. I’m hardly against him, but I do think his primary rival will be awfully tough for this field to hold off in the lane.
I was skeptical of MAJOR FORCE (#6) turning back in distance to six furlongs last time, but that turned out to be exactly what this horse needed. In a race that featured a slow pace (indicated by blue color-coding in the PPs), he rallied past them all in the stretch and won going away. According to Trakus, he ran his final quarter-mile in 21.78 seconds, which would be remarkable for stakes horses going that distance. The negatives are that he’s stepping up in class and his main rival in that race, Charnley River, did not get a great trip. On the other hand, I think it would be unwise to underestimate the finishing power that this runner displayed last time. Linda Rice now moves him back into a protected spot, and she actually has very good numbers off wins in this situation. Over the past five years, she is 14 for 64 (22 percent, $2.10 ROI) with last-out winners in turf sprints at NYRA.
In addition to the favorite, I will also use Follow the Signs (#3) in exotics. I’m not quite convinced that this horse wants to sprint, but he may have needed his return effort last time. His final two turf efforts of 2017 certainly give him a chance here. At bigger prices, you can also make a case for Strong Side (#5), who gets a favorable pace setup, and Rappel (#7), who finally gets back to a more appropriate sprint distance.
Exacta Key Box: 6 with 1,3,5,7
Trifecta: 1,6 with 1,6 with 3,5,7