Belmont Horses in Focus for Friday, October 29

RACE 4: FIRST CONSTITUTION (#2)

Speaker’s Corner figures to be a short-priced favorite as he drops in class out of the Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby, which was a very ambitious spot second off the layoff. This colt showed plenty of talent as a 2-year-old, and appeared to finally be fulfilling that early promise when he made an impressive return to the races at Saratoga this summer. He drew off from an allowance field in stylish fashion, and then was thrown into the deep end of the pool next time. However, that Aug. 14 allowance race isn’t looking quite as strong in retrospect, as a few runners have come out of that race to disappoint. Speaker’s Corner does deserve another chance over a route distance, but his connections are curiously adding blinkers, adding another layer of uncertainty. At a very short price, I want to find an alternative. And I think there’s a good in First Constitution. This Todd Pletcher trained 4-year-old just looked like he needed to shake the rust off when he returned from a long layoff at Saratoga, which also marked his North American debut. He broke slowly and was never involved that day. Yet he was much more professional next time out at this same level. He broke better and was in a good position on the backstretch before getting steadied sharply when cut off by the leader. He did well to overcome that trouble to finish a very game third. This colt obviously has some talent and I think he’s a serious rival to the favorite.

RACE 5: SHINE (#12)

If this race stays on the turf, Missy Greer figures to go favored for Danny Gargan. She attracted some support to get bet down to 6-1 in her debut, and she ran fairly well that day. She broke a step slowly and found herself chasing the pace while racing 4-wide on the far turn. She made a nice move into contention in upper stretch before flattening out late. She’s bred to appreciate added ground as a half-sister to Belmont Stakes runner-up Gronkowski, and Danny Gargan’s runners tend to do better with a run under their belts. I slightly prefer to some others with turf experience. I suppose Miss You Ella could do better second time out, but she was bet in her debut and just looked sluggish throughout. Anador is a little more intriguing as she makes her U.S. debut following four starts in France. Yet Christophe Clement doesn’t have the best stats with first time imports. I’m going in a different direction with Shine. This filly was intended for turf in her debut and stayed in when the race got washed off the grass. I thought she was a little interesting that day based on some smooth morning workouts, but she looked uncomfortable over the dirt in the afternoon. She was striding out like a turf horse and I made the note to wait for her on grass. Now she gets the chance over what should be her preferred surface, and she has some pedigree for it. Jimmy Creed is a decent 11% turf route sire, and the dam is out of multiple turf winner Marieval. Bill Mott has a positive ROI with 2-year-old maidens switching from dirt to turf.

RACE 9: BUY LAND AND SEE (#7)

Chad Brown appears to have a firm grasp on this Oyster Bay Stakes, as he seconds out a trio of runners who could be the top three choices in the wagering. Value Proposition figures to go favored as he cuts back in distance after easily winning the Red Bank last time out at Monmouth. He put in a solid effort going this distance when he just missed on the Elusive Quality earlier in the year, so he can handle the trip. He also has really improved his tactical speed this year, so he figures to be unaffected by pace from this outside post position. The biggest concern with this horse is his tendency to lug in, as he sometimes can be difficult to ride. I prefer him to Brown’s other fancied runner Flavius. This 6-year-old had everything his own way up front when he wired the Lure two back, I don’t want to be too hard on him for his loss at Kentucky Downs last time, but I can’t say that I even love his prior form. He has a bit of a reputation for hanging when it’s time to pass horses in the lane, and he’s unlikely to make the lead here. Perhaps the most interesting of Brown’s trio is Emaraaty. I love the idea of this horse cutting back to a one-turn 7 furlongs. His turn of foot seems to be most potent over shorter distances, and he concentrated on 7-furlong races as a younger horse in Europe. As long as he gets a fair pace setup, he should come charging late. They’re all worth using, but I have to pick a rival at a bigger price. Buy Land and See returned from an 11-month layoff in the Belmont Turf Sprint last time and simply got the wrong trip. He looked like a potential pace player on paper that day, yet Jose Ortiz was intent on rating him as soon as they broke from the gate. This grey colt wanted no part of those passive tactics, and fought the restraint for about 3 furlongs. When it was finally time to produce him in the stretch, Ortiz found traffic. The trip was just an overall disaster. Now the blinkers come off and Kendrick Carmouche takes over the reins. I expect him to be more forwardly placed this time and I love him stretching out to 7 furlongs. It remains to be seen if he’s quite good enough to beat this field, but he goes out for a capable barn and has upside.

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