Belmont Horses in Focus for Sunday, July 4

RACE 2: HOMBRE (#6)

Likely favorite Tariff War didn’t take that much money, considering the barn, in his debut at Churchill, but he was facing a pretty good field that day. Winner Modern Science returned to just miss against stakes company while runner-up El Kabong came back to win with at the same level. This guy was never a serious threat, but he was a little wide on the far turn and stayed on decently. Chad Brown is 21 for 67 (31%, $2.44 ROI) with 3-year-old and up second time starting maidens in turf routes at NYRA over 5 years. He’s not likely to be much price for this barn with Irad Ortiz riding, but he’s the horse to beat. I prefer the other second time starter Hombre, who figures to be a better price. He finished fifth in the debut but that was a pretty strong field for the level and this guy did make up quite a bit of ground after a poor start. He didn’t take any money that day, but he had worked well coming into that start and since then. It’s not ideal that Barclay Tagg is just 1 for 28 (4%, $0.22 ROI) with maiden second time starters in turf routes over the past 5 years. However, there are other reasons to think he can take a step forward. I get the feeling this one has a bit of ability, and he just has to break more professionally to attain a better result. I’m not a big fan of Win Worthy, couldn’t live up to his name last time when getting a perfect trip, and I don’t see the turf pedigree on I Am the Law.

RACE 8: PULSATE (#2)

Fiya completely turned his form around when switched to turf last summer, and quickly developed into one of the most exciting turf sprinters in the country while reeling off 5 straight victories. He was bet down to favoritism in that G2 Turf Sprint at Churchill last time off the layoff, but he just never seemed comfortable while dueling for the lead in a race that ultimately collapsed. He did run the best race of his career over this course and distance last year, and he figures to be the controlling speed this time. I suppose there’s some question about whether he can recapture his form off the brief layoff, but he’s undoubtedly the horse to beat. Both Christophe Clement runners exit the third race on May 14. I prefer Maxwell Esquire from that heat, as he never really had a chance to get involved through the stretch while buried inside of runners. He had previously run some competitive races against weaker company and still has upside as a 4-year-old. However, he may be the clear second choice with Irad Ortiz named to ride. My top pick is Pulsate. Despite the fact that he only owns a single victory on turf, there’s little to fault about this horse’s form on this surface. He almost always shows up with a competitive effort and ran well every time they led him over last year. Pulsate was right there in that salty July 2020 allowance event behind a trio of stakes-quality runners. He then got hampered in the stretch in the Troy two back and barely lost the Lucky Coin. His best effort gives him a real chance, and the improved tactical speed he displayed last time gives Jose Ortiz some options. The only real question is the layoff, but he should be a square price.

RACE 9: IT’S A GAMBLE (#8)

Public Sector would be a deserving favorite in this Manila, as his connections wisely decide to stay at this one-mile distance rather than try a more ambitious target like the Belmont Derby. He got a great trip to win that N1X allowance last time, but he still won fairly comfortably in the end over a decent field. He arguably ran better in his runner-up finish two back when he closed into a slow pace against a stakes-quality field of allowance runners. He figures to work out a good trip once again, most likely stalking Original. He also figures to be unbothered by a little give in the ground after all the rain over the past few days. He’s formidable, and I definitely prefer him another short price, Annex. That Bill Mott runner just hasn’t really stepped forward since early in his career, and really didn’t have much excuse to stop in the American Turf two back after working out a good trip. I instead want It’s a Gamble, who gets back on turf after winning the Jersey Derby on dirt last time. He actually ran pretty well in that off-the-turf event, but he’s now getting back on his preferred surface. He put in a strong late run to be second to Hard Love in the Woodhaven, and that colt is arguably the one to beat among the prospective field for the Belmont Derby. It seems like this colt has taken a step forward as a 3-year-old, and has also elongated and gained some more stamina as he’s matured. I don’t mind progeny of English Channel over less than firm turf, so he just needs some pace to develop ahead of him. 

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