Belmont Horses in Focus for Thursday, October 7

RACE 3: LIFE CHANGER (#7)

Twelth Man is obviously the horse to beat as he returns from a lengthy layoff. We haven’t seen him since he disappointed against allowance foes on Jan. 1 when beaten a long way by Tenderfoot, who was in raging form back then. However, he would be pretty tough for this field to handle if able to get back to any of his prior efforts. He had run well behind horses like Our Last Buck and Will Sing for Wine prior to that, and he’s arguably even better going shorter, so this cutback in distance should benefit him. The problem is that he’s dropping in for a tag for the first time, and Michelle Nevin is 8 for 40 (20%, $1.07 ROI) first time for a tag on the dirt over the past 5 years, suggesting that these runners are often overbet. I prefer the other horse dropping out of allowance races. Life Changer looked so promising in his career debut in the summer of 2020, but he never really panned out. He didn’t appreciate stretching out in his second start, and then was unable to make much of an impact in two starts this summer when he returned as a 4-year-old. That said, he did meet a good rival in Following Sea two back, and last-out winner Newbomb is no slouch either. He’s now getting the class relief that he needs, and I like the fact that he’s drawn outside this time. Furthermore, John Terranova is 5 for 6 (83%, $6.36 ROI) with non-maidens dropping for a tag for the first time on the dirt over the last 5 years.

RACE 6: FOREVER MO (#3)

Tizzarunner is arguably the horse to beat as he makes his second start off the claim for Mertkan Kantarmaci. He ran quite well in his first start for this barn last time when just missing to longshot Soulmate in a $50k claimer. It should be noted that the fractions and final time of that race are all incorrect, as they actually went very slow on the front end before sprinting home. It certainly helped that Tizzarunner was so close to that pace, but he was racing in the two-path throughout at a time when rail position on the inner course was a significant advantage. If he can repeat that effort he’s going to be tough for this field to beat. I’d also use Troubling Moon out of that race, since he was 3-wide over that same rail-biased course, but he didn’t finish as well as Tizzarunner. Hieroglyphics is a bit of a wild card as he makes his belated first start off the claim for Dominick Schettino. He obviously has prior form for Mike Maker that puts him in the mix, but he’s been entered and scratched a number of times over the past several months. Among those returning from layoffs, I prefer Forever Mo. This 5-year-old is just getting the class relief that he needs after facing much tougher in his previous start in June. Prior to that he had raced competitive in similar open claiming events at Gulfstream before being compromised by a slow pace in the Appleton. His recent form isn’t as bad as it seems, and now he’s returning at an appropriate class level.

RACE 8: PRAIRIE FIRE (#9)

The Important One figures to be the clear-cut favorite here as she tries to win at this level for the second time in a row after competing for the $45k optional claiming tag when she won an off-the-turf event last time at Saratoga. She absolutely dominated that field, leading all the way before opening up impressively late. That 107 TimeformUS Speed Figure is the highest of her career, and makes her faster than her rivals here if she can repeat it. She did have everything go her way last time, as all of the fractions for that race are color-coded blue in TimeformUS PPs. That said, it is possible that she’s just a different horse on the dirt. My main issue with the favorite is the fact that she’s likely to face more intense early pace pressure this time. Horses like Beautiful Karen, Shaker Shack, and Rossa Veloce have all done their best running on the front end, and even Honey Money and Awillaway figure to be pressing the issue. There’s seems like a strong likelihood that this pace could heat up, and that would set it up for a closer. Byhubbyhellomoney is one of the late runners to consider. I don’t mind her turning back in distance after winning the 9-furlong Fleet Indian last time. However, she will have to improve on her career-best effort to beat this field. I’m more interested in Prairie Fire off the layoff. This former Linda Rice trainee had been in great form at this time last year, finishing second in the Iroquois before winning an open allowance at Aqueduct in the winter. She tailed off earlier this year and was put away for a while. Now she’s returning for Orlando Noda, who is 6 for 22 (27%, $4.99 ROI) first off a trainer switch over the past 5 years. Furthermore, this barn has had some live runners in the last week and they’ve placed this mare realistically for her return to the races.

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