Belmont Horses in Focus for Friday, October 8

RACE 3: SANCTUARY CITY (#3)

Analyze It is obviously the horse to beat as he seeks his first victory of the year while dropping in for a tag – albeit a high-priced one – for the first time. He’s lost at this level twice in a row, but he arguably ran the best race last time on Aug. 29. He got involved in a heated early duel with a longshot and couldn’t withstand the late charge of talented winner Breaking the Rules. A repeat of the 118 TimeformUS Speed Figure he earned for that effort should put him in the winner’s circle here. He also should face a much more favorable pace setup this time without any other front-runners signed on. He’s the one to beat, but he’s not the most trustworthy runner at what figures to be a very short price. Dreams of Tomorrow is the obvious alternative as he drops back into allowance company after trying the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch last time. He finished last of 4 in that spot, but he was chasing on the outside the entire way. His best effort gives him a chance, but he got a perfect setup when he won over this course back in May and he hasn’t really moved forward since. I prefer Sanctuary City at what figures to be a better price. The small field should allow this deep closer to sit closer to the pace than usual. He also is reunited with regular pilot Kendrick Carmouche, who guided him to three consecutive victories earlier this year. He was compromised by a slow pace two back in the Forbidden Apple and then last time had to wait in upper stretch before awkwardly altering course while the top two finishers came up the inside. He’s in the best form of his career right now and the one-turn mile at Belmont is perfect for him.

RACE 4: OH MRS. MAISEL (#3)

This two-year-old maiden event appears to feature a few potentially talented first time starters. Topping that list is Sweet as Pie, a daughter of Tapit out of a stakes-winning dam. This filly’s lone sibling to race is Admiring, an 8-length maiden winner on turf. The dam is a full-sister to Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet winner Streaming, and there’s a ton of stamina deeper in this female family. Todd Pletcher is 8 for 36 (22%, $1.24 ROI) with 2-year-old firsters going 6F to 7F at Belmont on dirt over 5 years, but he’s had plenty of success with firsters at this meet. This nearly white filly has been working well. She was slightly second best to subsequent stakes winner Classy Edition on Aug. 22, and then was going a bit easier in company with Varatti (debut winner) on Aug. 29. The other firster who figures to attract support is Broadway Force. This homebred is by 17% juvenile debut sire Violence. The dam is a half-sister to Grade 2 turf winner Essential Edge. Jimmy Jerkens’ firsters can sometimes need a start, but this filly looks well prepared. She easily outworked Zap Man (7th on debut) on Sep. 17, and followed that up with a bullet drill on Sep. 26 that was fastest at that distance by nearly a full second. I respect these fillies, but I want to go with one of the experienced runner. Oh Mrs. Maisel had an interesting journey in her debut. She broke with the field but was restrained on the backstretch, as her rider showed no urgency while letting her drop back to last. She raced a little greenly at the back while still conservatively ridden until she was finally asked for some run in the lane. She didn’t make much late progress but it wasn’t easy to close from far back at the Saratoga meet. She notably took money that day to go off at 7-1, and was flattered when winner Gerrymander returned to finish 2nd in the Frizette. Horacio DePaz is 5 for 13 (38%, $4.56 ROI) with 2-year-old maiden second time starters on dirt over 5 years. I expect her to show more speed and run a lot better this time.

RACE 7: HOHOHOHO (#3)

This starter allowance event is one of the most confusing races on the entire card. I suppose Funwhileitlasted could go favored as she cuts back in distance and drops into an easier spot. She was simply overmatched in the Virginia Oaks last time, dismissed at 30-1 odds against a classier set of rivals. The 9 furlongs of that race also may have been too much for her, as she’s done her best work going shorter. She was a strong second over this 7-furlong distance in a stakes back in June, and she figures to get plenty of pace to close into this time. I’d use her prominently, but there are others to consider. Fraudulent Charge is a wild card as she tries turf for the first time. She’s kept good company in Maryland, trading decisions with the talented Street Lute in her last few starts. I actually like progeny of Will Take Charge on the turf, but this filly could take money based on dirt form, and those runners are typically bad bets. I’m most interested in a couple of runners exiting the Sep. 5 starter allowance affair at Saratoga. Hohohoho set the pace that day and was forced through some pretty quick early fractions. She maintained the lead until mid-stretch but was swallowed up by closers late in a race that fell apart. I don’t mind her turning back to 7 furlongs, even though she may have to come from off the pace this time. She doesn’t strike me as a runner that’s overly headstrong, so she should be able to adapt to stalking tactics. And of course nearly ever runner from the Tom Morley barn has been live recently. Yet I wouldn’t dismiss Kemba out of that same race. She also may need to adapt her running style, but she ran better than it seems last time when just unwilling to come through a tight opening on the rail in the stretch. The turnback could also work for her and she may be a better price.

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