Robin Sparkles (#5) is the horse to beat as she moves back into allowance company following a couple of stakes appearances. She ran very well in her seasonal debut in the License Fee, staying on gamely for second while running against the toughest field that she’s yet faced in her brief career. She also showed a new dimension that day, as she rated off the pace and held her position through the stretch. She got the job done on dirt last time, but that’s not her preferred surface. She’s back in an appropriate spot this time, but she will have to deal with the early speed of Jakarta and potentially even Karak. She may simply be the best horse in this race, but she’s also likely to be favored and it’s not as if she has much margin for error.
Some may consider a closer like Madeline Must (#1) as the alternative, but I haven’t been thrilled with any of her turf races in this country. She got a great trip when she won at Aqueduct last November and accomplished that win against a much weaker field than she meets here. She has met some tougher rivals in stakes company since then, but she was never a real threat to win those races.
I instead prefer the other closer CATCH A BID (#7). This mare was a turf miler for Chad Brown before she recently cut back in distance for new trainer Joe Sharp. She handled the initial turn back well in April at Keeneland, just missing going 5 1/2 furlongs after slipping through inside. Yet she couldn’t quite go with a faster field in the The Very One last time at Pimlico, where she was outrun every step of the way. I think this 6-furlong trip will be perfect for her, and she’s clearly capable at her best. Joe Sharp has been enjoying a strong meet at Churchill Downs this summer, and he’s 10 for 42 (24%, $2.66 ROI) in turf sprints at Belmont over the past 5 years.
Exacta: 7 with 1,2,5
Trifecta: 7 with 5 with 1,2,4,6