Belmont Horses in Focus for Thursday, September 24

RACE 1: DANCINGWTHDAFFODLS (#2)

Potential favorite Pecatonica significantly improved this summer at Saratoga, twice hitting the board at this level after winning her N1X condition. The issue is that she got nearly perfect trips in all of those races, saving ground on the turns before rallying in the stretch. Perhaps this is the day she finally breaks through this condition, but she doesn’t have any kind of speed figure edge over this field and could be an underlay. Among her main rivals are Out of Trouble and Vip Nation. The former got the job done against a weaker claiming field last time at Saratoga. While she did have excuses in her two prior starts at this level, she still has to prove that she can transfer that improved form into this tougher spot. Vip Nation could be the one to catch, depending on how Short Pour is ridden. This 5-year-old mare disappointed against claimers last time, but she had run deceptively well after blowing the start in her return from the layoff two back. Rudy Rodriguez has poor numbers off the claim with turf horses, but I won’t be surprised if this mare runs well for this barn. Yet I want to go in a different direction with Dancingwthdaffodls. This grey mare had achieved most of her success as a turf sprinter coming into that last start, yet she ran surprisingly well going the two-turn mile. That race was dominated towards the front end and she never had proper position, racing wide at the back of the pack. She lost significant ground around the second turn, yet kicked for home nicely to get up for third. She’s capable of better than that and is now reunited with regular rider Jose Ortiz. I think she can pull off the upset if she gets a little pace to close into.

RACE 4: UNICORN SALLY (#7)

Kept Waiting is clearly the filly to beat as she drops in for a tag for the first time following two solid efforts at the maiden special weight level. She barely lost on July 22 at Saratoga after leading most of the way, and then couldn’t quite fend off a fast-finishing Kilkea when again second in August. As long as she maintains her form it’s going to take an improved effort by a competitor to defeat her. The obvious alternative is Micromillion, who was in over her head on the wrong surface when she contested the Fleet Indian last time. Prior to that she put forth a pair of solid efforts on the turf, overcoming a wide trip to finish second at this level on July 25 before trying tougher maiden special weight foes two back. While she clearly has improved on the turf recently, she’s never run fast enough to beat the favorite and isn’t likely to offer much value. I prefer another alternative, Unicorn Sally. This filly has run just as fast as Micromillion and generally done so against tougher company. She closed well to be fourth in a maiden special weight event at Belmont in June, and then was hindered by poor trips in her last two starts at Saratoga. She finished well behind Kept Waiting in the July 22 maiden event, but she stumbled at the start and was wide thereafter. Then last time when dropped in for this tag she got a ridiculously wide trip, getting fanned into the 5- or 6-path when attempting to launch a rally on the far turn. She’s better than that and the move to Belmont’s Widener course and switch to Joel Rosario should help her.

RACE 9: LOGIC N REASON (#5)

Capital Structure is a British-bred daughter of Lope de Vega who sold for $274,000 at the 2018 Tattersalls sale. She had been in training at Palm Meadows during the spring but didn’t make her debut until July at Monmouth when she surprised a solid maiden field to win at odds of 6-1. She was much the best that day, as she overcame an awkward start by making a mid-race move to challenge for the lead before drawing off in the stretch. This filly clearly possesses talent, but it remains to be seen if she can handle this step up in class. Horses have not returned out of that last race to perform particularly well in subsequent starts, so she certainly has some questions to answer. I’m using her, but I didn’t want to accept a very short price on her. Her main rival is the returning Crystalle, winner of last year’s P. G. Johnson at Saratoga. While she would clearly be a player in this race if able to take a natural step forward off her two-year-old form, her running style could be a hindrance. She’s a deep closer who typically breaks slowly from the gate, and that figures to be a problem in a race that lacks pace. I prefer Logic N Reason, who could play out as the early leader by default. This filly disappointed in her return from the layoff in June, but she ran much better last time at Saratoga. The pace of that July 26 affair was fast, and Logic N Reason was part of a four-horse vanguard leading the field down the backstretch. She finished well ahead of the other horses involved in that pace but was ultimately passed in a race dominated by closers. The 107 TimeformUS Speed Figure that she earned for that performance is the highest in this field, and the Pace Projector is predicting a situation favoring the early leader.

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