Belmont Horses in Focus for Sunday, November 1


Black ‘n Tan could go favored in this maiden claimer as he drops out of a maiden special weight event at Monmouth. While he finished far back in that debut, he took some money and did a little bit of running early in the race. He also didn’t get the most comfortable trip through the stretch as his rider glued him to the rail for the latter half of the race. The Steve Asmussen barn can obviously improve a second-time starter and it’s a good sign that Irad Ortiz takes over the reins. I’m using him, but it’s unclear if he’s as fast as some of the other runners drawn to his inside. Stretch the Truth in particular has blazing early speed and could be in front for a while. However I’m most interested in the pair of George Weaver dropdowns, both of whom are switching from turf to dirt. Over the past 5 years, Weaver is 5 for 15 (33%, $2.85 ROI) with maiden special weight to maiden claiming dropdowns making that surface switch. While Ghost Stalker may have faced the tougher field in his debut, I prefer Sinashack. This son of Shackleford debuted in a restricted maiden event going 7 furlongs on turf. That race featured a stiff early pace and Sinashack was pressing on the outside in the early going. He was in the mix until the quarter pole at which point his stablemate Whatmakessammyrun took over before going on to a commanding victory. Now he’s getting blinkers for his second start while switching to the main track. He does have a little turf pedigree, but he strikes me as one that should handle this surface and Weaver’s stats give me confidence.


Brew Pub finally faced state-breds for the first time in his fourth career start last time out. However, he was sprinting on turf that day. He doesn’t have an overwhelming turf pedigree and he arguably ran his best race on dirt two back at a route distance, so this may be a more appropriate spot. I’m using him, but he will have to improve to overhaul the potential favorite Work Out. This Leah Gyarmati trainee just makes a ton of sense as the likely favorite in this spot; showed some tenacity when fighting back to secure second in his debut, and followed that up with an improved performance second time out. He now has to stretch out again, but his two most accomplished siblings, Associate and Amberjack, both were best at distances ranging from 7 furlongs to a mile. The one knock is that trainer Leah Gyarmati is just 1 for 53 (2%, $0.13 ROI) with dirt stretch-outs over the past 5 years. I want a different horse out of that September 4 maiden event. Re Created took no money in that unveiling and finished a non-threatening seventh behind Work Out. She was pretty sluggish in the early going and never really picked up while racing wide throughout. I got the impression watching him that more distance would benefit him, and his pedigree also suggests that. Laoban’s progeny are 6-3-3-0 with dirt route starters so far. He’s likely to step forward second time out for an underrated barn and he should be a square price.


Caldee is obviously the horse to beat in this strong edition of the Chelsey Flower. She was very impressive breaking her maiden at Saratoga in her second career start, and she validated that performance in the Miss Grillo last time. Losing to the undefeated Plum Ali is no disgrace, and Caldee had to pick up the pace through some quick interior fractions before settling for second. I think she’s pretty good and she could have a significant pace advantage in a race where most of her primary competitors are closers. I’ll certainly her use her prominently, but my top pick is the Bill Mott second-time starter Lovestruck. This filly missed a planned start in the Miss Grillo, but apparently got over that issue quickly, as she’s back in the entries just a month later. She has a regal pedigree, being a half-sister to Scat Daddy sired by Tapit. Her debut was excellent, as she won handily despite the fact that she was extremely green. She broke inward from the start, forcing herself steady, and still didn’t look like she knew what she was doing in the lane even as she mowed down the leader. Mott doesn’t have great statistics with horses coming off debut wins, but I think this talented filly could be an exception to that pattern. Ingrassia also makes some sense after finishing third in the Jessamine. While the pace of that race may seem quick, it was dominated towards the front end, and she was one of the only horses to make a significant run from the back of the pack. I also wouldn’t be surprised if Oyster Box ran well after beating a solid field in her sprint debut. Graham Motion has poor numbers with stretch-outs like this, but she’s certainly bred to handle added ground.

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