Belmont Horses in Focus for Thursday, June 23


#7 Oh Mrs. Maisel figures to attract some support as she drops in for a tag for the first time after a series of maiden special weight attempts. This is an easier spot for her, but I’m just concerned that she hasn’t really done much running in any of her races. She’s never been a serious factor and her recent efforts are arguably worse than those she put forth as a 2-year-old. She makes some sense, but I thought others were more appealing. Among those making the drop in for a tag, I preferred #3 Cupids Girl. She’s at least been competitive on a couple of occasions, and she actually ran well closing to be fifth against a tougher field last time. She’s always at the mercy of pace with her closing style, and I’m not sure the stretch-out to 7 furlongs helps her. Yet she’s arguably the horse to beat. A few of these exit a May 13 race at this level. The only horse that I want out of that race is #1 Fleur Elyse. It’s unclear how good she is, but she looked like a filly who badly needed that return. She appeared a little heavy, and wasn’t ridden to full effect, just eased through the last furlong. She figures to move forward with that start under her belt and will be a price in here. Yet I want to go in a different direction for my top pick. #2 Regina returns from a layoff with some potential to improve. She’s obviously light on speed figures, but I think both of her prior efforts are stronger than they appear. She actually had some speed in her debut before abruptly dropping back at the half-mile pole in a race she probably needed. Then last time stretching out to a mile she was just beaten by a couple of superior horses. Winner Candy Light returned to finish second in a stakes with a 100 TimeformUS Speed Figure. Furthermore, the second and fourth-place finishers from that affair won their next starts with improved speed figures. Regina is likely faster than her figures indicate, and is spotted appropriately for her return.


Morning-line favorite #4 Marvelous Maude can obviously win this race, but it just feels like she’s going to be an awfully short price in a race where she doesn’t necessarily have a significant edge over her primary rivals. I didn’t see a major excuse for her last time when she lost as the 4-5 favorite. It was her first start off a layoff, but Chad Brown does great in that situation. She has to do a bit better to beat this field, and I’m not interested in taking her at close to even-money. #8 Cara’s Dreamer is a difficult call as she attempts to rebound from a poor effort against the favorite last time. I thought she ran pretty well off the layoff at Aqueduct in April, but she had nothing to offer last time. She did get a little rank in the early part of that race, but that doesn’t seem like a viable excuse for her coming up totally empty in the stretch. I suppose it’s a good sign that she’s back just 5 weeks later, and I don’t want to count her out. Parx-based mare #5 Instinctivefinished ahead of Marvelous Maude when they met in that May 22 event, and I don’t think there was anything fluky about that result. Instinctive arguably had the tougher trip, going wide around the turns and making an earlier move in a race that fell apart. I won’t hold her subsequent speed figure regression against her when she ran at Parx next time, as she was an easy winner of that race against inferior competition. Her two best performances have come in her NYRA starts, as she also ran well last year at Aqueduct. This 5-time turf winner knows how to get the job done and she’s clearly in the best form of her career right now.


I’m not sure he’ll go favored here, since he almost never does, but #8 Pulsate is the horse to beat in this optional claimer as he launches his 6-year-old campaign. While he’s never had a great affinity for visiting the winner’s circle, Pulsate ran well in all of his turf appearances last year, finishing in the exacta every time. He arguably put forth one of his best efforts in his return from a similar layoff last July when just felling to defeat the once-brilliant Fiya. He’s getting subtle class relief from his steady diet of stakes races at the end of last year, and projects to get a good stalking trip. I prefer him to the other short prices. #7 Whatmakessammyrun should attract support on the basis of his fifth-place finish in the Grade 1 Jaipur just 12 days ago. He ran pretty well in that spot, but he did get a good ground-saving trip before angling out in the stretch. He obviously handles the distance and is getting class relief, but I’m not thrilled with the idea of taking a short price on him. #1 Principled Stand could also take money for Chad Brown, but he’s got a lot to prove as he steps up in class and turns back to a sprint distance for the first time. I prefer #2 Big Package at slightly longer odds. He’s one of two runners in this field for David Donk, who has been enjoying a fantastic few months in New York. Over the past 60 days, Donk is 11 for 38 (29%, $5.84 ROI) with all starters. Big Package was thrown into a tough spot off the layoff last time when unable to make an impact in the Elusive Quality. However, Donk reported that he exited that race with a fever. Though he’s been off the board twice in a row, I can make an excuse for his final start of 2021 when he got a ridiculously wide trip in the Turf Sprint Championship. He’s now back at a level where he should be competitive. He’s handled 6 furlongs before, and he should get some pace ahead of him with Principled Stand and Shekky Shebaz in the field.

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