Belmont Horses in Focus for Monday, July 5

RACE 4: FLINTSHIRE’S ROCK (#5)

Majestic Sky is a logical favorite after twice finishing second at this level in his two prior turf attempts. However, his best effort came going 7 furlongs, and he wasn’t quite as effective at a mile last time, so I’m a little concerned about this further stretch-out to 1 1/8 miles. He arguably has some margin for error here, since the others just haven’t shown much on turf, but he’s still not the kind of horse that I want at a short price. Orb in the Tower seems like the most logical alternative, but it’s not as if he has a ton of turf pedigree. Orb is a below-average 7% turf sire, and while one sibling did win on the turf this is much more of a dirt family. Pletcher has had some success with this turf to dirt move in the past, but it’s not like this horse is going to be much price with Irad Ortiz riding. I’m going in a different direction with Flintshire’s Rock. I’m hoping he just needed that start off the layoff last time, as he made a mild move coming to the quarter pole before getting bumped and flattening out. He was facing a vastly superior field that day and he’s getting some pretty significant class relief here. I don’t love him, but he feels like the most intriguing option in a race where all of the short prices are flawed.

RACE 6: BURNING BRIGHT (#8)

I don’t quite understand the public’s love affair with Gufo, who is starting to resemble a younger version of Sadler’s Joy. They both possess electrifying late kicks, but they just rarely get the job done against top company. Gufo really had little excuse to lose the Man O’ War two back, when he had everything go his way from a pace standpoint and he just couldn’t get past a game Channel Cat in the late stages. I don’t think that was a particularly strong field despite the Grade 1 designation (after all, Shamrocket was fourth by just 1 1/2 lengths). Gufo did finish third in a much tougher spot last time when charging late in the Manhattan. Yet he once again left himself with way too much ground to make up. I don’t think it’s clear that he necessarily gets better with added ground, and he’s going to be a pretty short price. I’m generally somewhat against the Man O’ War horses in here, and that includes Moon Over Miami, who got a better trip than Gufo and just had no late punch. The aforementioned Sadler’s Joy isn’t impossible and could get somewhat overlooked this time. He’s developed a reputation as a bit of a hanger over the past few seasons, but he’s had some subtle trips in recent starts. Jose Ortiz made a badly timed move last time when rushing up into an honest pace on the backstretch. He ran better than Moon Over Miami that day, and could get some pace to close into this time. Yet I want to get a little more creative with my top pick. Burning Bright looks too ambitiously placed based on his past performances, but I think there’s evidence that we haven’t yet seen the best of this horse. I don’t care about his lone other turf start, when he clearly wasn’t prepared for his debut and never got involved. He’s since made significant strides racing on dirt and synthetic, and he gives the impression that he only keeps getting better with added ground. He’s obviously bred to be a turf horse, being out of Grade 1 turfer Forever Together, and he’s been working very well on the lawn recently. The Jonathan Thomas barn has also been having a strong spring and summer, going 13 for 34 (38%, $3.20 ROI) with all starters over the past 90 days. He’s drawn well outside of the other speeds and I think he’s going to be prominent for a long way.

RACE 7: PRINCESS FAWZIA (#3)

High Opinion would be pretty formidable against this crew if able to get back to her best efforts. However, there are definitely some questions after she failed as the favorite going this distance last time. Her rider that day probably took her a little farther back than she needed to be in the early going, but she just never really produced the expected late kick in the stretch. It’s possible that this 7-furlong maiden winner may just not want to go this far. She figures to attract support again with Irad Ortiz taking over, but there’s enough uncertainty to be skeptical at a short price. Christophe Clement has a pair of 3-year-old contenders in this field, and I prefer both of them to the favorite. Creative Cairo may attract some more support coming out of that Grade 3 Wonder Again last time. The pace of that race wasn’t as slow as those ridiculous published fractions, but it was hardly a quick early tempo. She shouldn’t have a major issue with the 10 furlongs, but we already know that Clement’s other runner Community Adjusted can handle this distance. This filly had a trip in her first start over this distance two back and finished up nicely to get the job done last time. I’m using both of them, but my top pick is Princess Fawzia. She has yet to hit the board in three attempts at this level, so Rice is trying something new, stretching her out to this 10-furlong distance. Her dam handled distances as far as 1 3/8 miles, so there is some evidence that she could handle this trip. Furthermore, she figures to get a good trip, as she has the tactical speed to be forwardly placed in a race where most of her rivals prefer a target to run at. It’s not like she’d have to improve much to insert herself into the mix and she could fly under the radar.

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