Belmont Horses in Focus for Thursday, October 14

RACE 1: CORAGESCONTENDER (#1)

I’m not particularly fond of either of the potential favorites in this opener. So Suave is getting needed class relief after trying open N1X allowance company in his U.S. debut. Foreign shippers for the Christophe Clement barn come sometimes need a race in this country, and the pace of that last race did hold together. However, it’s not as if his European form suggests that he’s necessarily a sprinter, and he’s cutting all the way back to 6 furlongs here. I do prefer him to Zanno, who could take money as he ships into New York for the Welsey Ward barn. This gelding was entered and scratched up Saratoga, and is just now returning from a layoff of over 6 months. While he did run well in a few starts at Gulfstream, I generally don’t trust the form of those 5-furlong turf sprints in Florida to translate to New York.  I’m going in a different direction with Coragescontender. This horse may look inferior at first glance, but I think you can make some valid excuses for his poor efforts. He won when he cut back to a sprint, albeit against weaker company in May but he was subsequently flattered when that race’s runner-up Catch That Party returned to run well against allowance company. After that he blew the start on July 10 and was basically eased. And he’s been on dirt in his only two starts since then. Now he’s finally getting back to the right surface and distance and I think he can be competitive at this level with his best effort for an underrated trainer. It also doesn’t hurt to get Dylan Davis aboard, as he’s been riding very well at this meet.

RACE 3: SUPPLY AND DEMAND (#3)

Jake Rocks is a deserving favorite based on his recent form. This gelding got within 1 1/4 lengths of the talented Baby Yoda on July 17, just prior to that one’s breakout performance. He wasn’t as effective when going off as the lukewarm favorite last time, but that may have been a stronger race than the speed figure indicates. The second and fifth-place finishers came back to win with improved speed figures, and the winner was a second 2nd at the open N1X level next time out. It’s hard to take too short a price on a 1-for-25 favorite, but he’s the one to beat. Yet I think there are two interesting alternatives. The less trustworthy one is One Whirlwind Ride, who goes out for low-profile connections. This 3-year-old has some talent, but he’s been hampered by gate issues in most of his recent starts. He blew a couple of starts at Monmouth, and then was away slowly last time at Belmont. I don’t totally trust him to work out the right trip given his gate antics, but he’s one to use at a square price. My top pick is Supply and Demand. This gelding has a pedigree to suggest he wants to go long on the dirt, but pedigree only gets you so far. He’s shown he just can’t handle longer distances in two attempts. The fact of the matter is that he’s 2 for 2 sprinting on dirt, and has put forth efforts in those races that make him a major player here. He looked hopelessly beaten in upper stretch two back and put in a wild late run to get up right at the wire. The first start for Dutrow was poor, but note that in addition to the distance being too far, Sep. 19 at Belmont featured a rail bias, and he was outside all the way.

RACE 8: WINDFALL PROFIT (#4)

We’ll see who goes favored here, but I believe Messidor is the horse to beat as she makes another attempt at this level after falling just short on Sep. 16. She was probably best that day, as she got caught behind a slow pace and was just left with too much ground to make up in a race dominated by the early leaders. She had shown some class in Europe and cutting back in distance at this level seemed to do the trick last time. As long as she maintains her current form she figures to be a handful. Two fillies exit the third race on Aug. 28 at this level. Golden Plume figure to take more money after staying on evenly to be fifth. All things considered, I thought she had a pretty good trip, as she saved ground early and found room in the stretch. Ultimately she just didn’t have the necessary turn of foot to capitalize in the last furlong. The horse that I want out of that race is Windfall Profit. This 4-year-old has clearly had her chances at this level, but she’s coming off what was arguably one of the best efforts of her career in that Aug. 28 event. She was off a bit slowly, which put her in an unfamiliar position at the back of the pack. Luis Saez was dealt a bad hand, but his decision to make a premature move on the far turn didn’t help matters. She was spun 5-wide into the stretch and still almost struck the lead at the eighth pole before flattening out. We saw Love and Thunder, who also had some trouble, come out of that race to dominate a field at this level in her next start. I think Windfall Profit could take a similar step forward, as she has continued to be based at Fair Hill for Shug McGaughey. That switch of training venue appeared to wake her up last time, and she’s dangerous if she’s continued to thrive since then.

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