There’s no doubt that #5 Highly Respected is the horse to beat in this spot, but horses from the Chad Brown barn are getting consistently overbet at Belmont, which is understandable given his outstanding record so far at this meet. He’s a likely winner, but I could see him dipping into odds-on territory, and I don’t think that’s fair value on this horse in what is a pretty competitive allowance race. He ran well to just miss in the G3 Bay Shore last time, as it appeared he had made the winning move at the quarter pole before getting nailed by Wit. He has to stretch out an extra furlong here, and a few of his rivals aren’t exactly slouches.
#2 Galt, the full-brother to Songbird, is getting significant class relief after running in a few Derby preps. He wasn’t disgraced finishing fourth in the Holy Bull, and last time you can’t fault him for not hanging with Epicenter, who is one of the best 3-year-olds in the land.
Some may also consider #9 Varatti, though I wasn’t thrilled with his return at Keeneland. He lacked the early speed that he displayed on debut, having to be hard-ridden into the race while no match for a surprising runaway winner. I’m interested in a different Kentucky shipper.
#4 DOMINICAN PIONEER only earned a 103 TimeformUS Speed Figure in his debut score, which is 11 points lower than the best number the favorite has achieved. However, I was really impressed with the way this Wesley Ward trainee dispatched of his competition. He always appeared to be traveling well while contesting the pace and seemed to keep finding more when put to mild pressure through the stretch, hitting his best stride just as they came under the wire. He’s bred to stretch out, being by Pioneerof the Nile and a half-brother to multiple turf stakes winner Chocolate Ride. I expect John Velazquez to send him to the front here, and I won’t be surprised when he proves tough to catch.
WIN: #4 Dominican Pioneer, at 4-1 or greater