Belmont Horses in Focus for Sunday, July 27

RACE 3: GALAWI (#5)

Possible favorite Cambi Lion just makes plenty of sense given his overall trajectory. Shug McGaughey runners tend to improve with experience and this colt has taken subtle steps forward with each start. He didn’t get ideal trips down at Gulfstream when he just found his best stride too late. However, he got the right pace setup last time at Belmont, and simply caught a tough rival in Shaftestbury. He was finishing stoutly through the late stages of that race, and will be tough to beat if he’s able to repeat that performance. Despite the fact that he’s out of an accomplished turf sprinter, he gives the impression that added ground shouldn’t be a problem. It’s just a little tough to take a short price on a horse with his deep-closing style. I prefer his main rival Galawi, who is the new face in this cast. This well-bred 4-year-old colt makes his U.S. debut following a couple of decent efforts in France last year. He was beaten by G3-placed Another Sky in his debut on synth, and appeared to take a subtle step forward on turf last May. He briefly looked like a winner a furlong out before getting turned away late. Pedigrees don’t get much better than this, as he’s by top international sire Dubawi out of Group 1 Prix Vermeille winner Galikova, who is a half-sister to the 3-time BC Mile winner Goldikova. Graham Motion is 15 for 60 (25%, $2.61 ROI) with foreign shippers in turf routes over the past 5 years, and he also does well off layoffs. If this colt is ready to run, he should be tough to beat. I prefer him to the more familiar options from the Chad Brown and Christophe Clement barns.

RACE 5: BEAUTIFUL LOVER (#4)

Likely favorite Miss Teheran has yet to run a bad race in this country for Chad Brown, so it’s a little problematic that she has just a single victory to show for it. You can make some excuses for her losses, but she was probably supposed to get the job done last time. She actually made the lead in the very late stages before getting passed from the inside by the classy Call Me Love. It’s no disgrace losing to a horse of that quality, but runners from this barn are supposed to deliver at even-money. She lands in another favorable spot here, and arguably has the best late kick of anyone in this field. It’s just a question of how short a price you’re willing to take this time. Brown’s other runner is Bacchanalia, who finished just a neck behind her stablemate last time. This headstrong mare has always been tough to ride, so they finally decided to let her roll on the front end last time. She still didn’t settle quite as well as one might have hoped as she ran off through a quick opening quarter. Yet she seemed to relax on the lead thereafter, and produced a decent kick for home. However, she was supposed to get it done with that trip, and now she potentially has to deal with I’llhandalthecash and Traipsing on the lead. I prefer one of the runners from the powerful Christophe Clement stable. Beautiful Lover is actually a former Chad Brown trainee who was transferred to the Clement barn following a purchase for $650k at auction in January. That price tag highlights the fact that she has value as a broodmare prospect. One would have imagined that she’d show more in her return to the races at Tampa, but the early pace of that race was pretty slow and no one made an impact from the back. Others who were trying to close have already come out of that spot to run well. This mare’s lack of early speed can be a detriment at times, but she figures to get a fair pace ahead of her and I think she can rebound in her second start for this barn.

RACE 6: NOBLE JOURNEY (#1)

I don’t have a strong argument against Bar Fourteen, other than the fact that he’s now going to be a short price based largely on the rider switch to Irad Ortiz. He’s run well in all of his turf starts, having been the victim of quick paces on a couple of occasions. That was especially true last time when he was chasing an unreasonably fast pace before getting swallowed up by the closers in the lane. I actually like him turning back to 7 furlongs given how well he ran sprinting on dirt early in his career. And he does appear to have found a race in which he’ll be able to control the early pace. I’m just not keen to take a short price on him. His main rival is probably Neuro, but he’s another runner that’s difficult to endorse at relatively low odds. He’s arguably in the best form of his career right now, and turf does seem to be his preferred surface. He’s just had his fair share of chances, whereas a rival like Bar Fourteen at least still has some upside. I’m using both of them, but I think there’s a more interesting alternative. Noble Journey has made two starts on turf and both are better than they seem. He was wide around the first turn of his turf debut while chasing a pace that ultimately fell apart. And then last time he was returning from a long layoff and going a distance that is perhaps a little short for him. Furthermore, he encountered traffic in upper stretch that day and was ridden conservatively through the lane. That’s proven to be a strong race as multiple horses have returned out of it improve. Noble Journey also figures to move forward off that effort, and he should appreciate stretching out to 7 furlongs.

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