Belmont Horses in Focus for Sunday, April 25

RACE 3: MOONSHININGBRIGHT (#5)

Determined Fury, one of three maiden special weight to maiden claiming dropdowns, is a formidable presence in this maiden claimer. He ran very well in his turf debut last October, getting up for second while finishing ahead of his two main rivals in today’s race, Risk Profile and Uncle Moonlight. Determined Fury got a great trip in that race and hung a bit in the late stages. Yet he nevertheless earned a speed figure that suggests he would be good enough to win a maiden special weight event. Therefore, it’s a little surprising to see his connections so readily drop him in for a tag off one disappointing effort – especially considering that there was a viable special weight race on Saturday’s card. Christophe Clement has excellent statistics with his move, but I’m a little skeptical about this horse holding his form. I do still prefer him to the two runners that he defeated in that October 8 race. Risk Profile has had many more chances than the favorite and his form appears to be heading south. Uncle Moonlight is perhaps a little more interesting off the layoff, but I wasn’t thrilled with any of his races from last year and Michelle Nevin’s stats with dropdowns like this are merely mediocre. I want to get a little more creative here, so I’m taking a shot with Moonshiningbright. He’s going to be the biggest price of the runners dropping out of maiden special weight company, and I think he’s subtly run better than it seems in a few starts. He made a middle move in his debut after breaking poorly, and then was chasing two-wide against a gold rail second time out. His last race was disappointing, but he was always out of position after failing to make the front. Now he’s returning off a freshening and getting a positive rider switch to Joel Rosario. Furthermore, there isn’t much speed signed on and this colt figures to control the pace. 

RACE 5: BRUSH COUNTRY (#5)

Shamrocked is an obvious contender, and likely favorite, as he drops in class off the claim by Karl Broberg. While he owns a set of speed figures that clearly indicate he’s the horse to beat, I’m a little skeptical about his current form. He got very lucky when he won at this level two back, as he rode a gold rail for much of his trip before drifting in the stretch. He also was allowed to control that race on the front end and still barely got the job done against a weaker field than this. He improved his figure subsequently in that $16k claimer on Mar. 13, but I didn’t think he ran that well while checking in third. He was again riding a gold rail for much of his trip and he had no answer when challenged in the lane. I prefer a couple of others in this spot at bigger prices. One of those is Batterbatterswing, who I have been chasing for a few races now. This Randi Persaud trainee isn’t so easy to trust after a voided claim last time, followed by a vet scratch on two weeks ago. However, he does have excuses for his recent losses during the winter. He was wide against rail biases in each of his last three starts, and actually ran competitively in a couple of those races before his poor effort last time. He’s getting the class relief that he probably needs, but there do have to be concerns about his condition. I’m using him, but I’m instead going to Brush Country for my top pick. This gelding has always had ability, but he was fairly inconsistent for his previous trainer. His first start off the claim for Bruce Brown was lackluster, but he got back on track last time when dropped in class, running a solid second in a reasonably fast race for the level. He now moves up slightly, but he should be able to compete against this field if he maintains his improved form. He also figures to get a favorable pace setup since the TimeformUS Pace Projector is predicting a fast pace. Furthermore, a little rain wouldn’t hinder him, since he appreciates a sloppy track. 

RACE 7: RAINBOW GAL (#6)

The horse to beat in this New York-bred allowance affair is obviously Bankers Daughter, but she’s not the easiest horse to trust after she was pulled up in her most recent start. She didn’t break that alertly and just never seemed to be racing in the bridle before Dylan Davis pulled the plug at the quarter pole. It’s somewhat concerning that she now hasn’t been seen for over 3 months since then, but she is returning at the same level. If she can rebound to any semblance of her prior form she’s going to be tough for this field to handle, as it’s not the toughest allowance race for this level. I want to try to beat her with the quickly improving Rainbow Gal. I had liked this filly out of her debut when she ran deceptively well, closing belatedly after a rough start. She broke more alertly second time out but was unfortunate to catch one of the fastest $25k maiden claimers of the entire winter meet on Mar. 5. She was a shrewd claim out of that race by Orlando Noda, who subsequently moved her up in class and broke her maiden earlier this month. While she was again only defeating maiden claimers in that Apr. 11 race, she did so in impressive fashion, overcoming a slow start to win by open lengths in another fast time for the level. She may have to improve again to defeat an in-form Bankers Daughter, but Orlando Noda is a solid 8 for 40 (20%, $3.20 ROI) coming off wins on dirt, including 2 for 5 off maiden wins within that sample. Jose Ortiz abandons this filly for Electric Youth, but Joel Rosario is more than an ample substitute. Underneath I would also want to include Cheatham Hill at a big price. I know this filly has had many chances at this level but she’s earned competitive speed figures on occasion. Her last race is also better than it seems as it appeared that Luis Cardenas’s saddle slipped early in the race, so he couldn’t ride her properly. She may appreciate the turnback.

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