Belmont Horses in Focus for Sunday, June 26


I’m not a big fan of #2 Translate, who could go favored as she drops in class for her return to New York. She’s run very well the past couple of seasons at Santa Anita during the winter, but she wasn’t able to transfer that form back to NYRA when she came east last year. I’m concerned that she may be about to regress again, as she’s dropping in for a tag for the first time since she was claimed by these connections two years ago. She also has posted just two timed workouts since coming back to Belmont in May. #10 Blissful Change looks competitive as she also drops in class for trainer Joe Sharp. This barn has had plenty of success in turf sprints at NYRA over the past 5 years, and she’s spotted realistically for her first start on this circuit. She was never really involved against a tougher field at Churchill Downs last time, but I don’t want to be too hard on her for that effort, as she had run better tree starts back at Fair Grounds. I’m not totally convinced, but she makes enough sense to include. Among those with early speed, #8 Get the Candy could be most dangerous. Stretching back out to 7 furlongs is a question for her, but she was facing a tougher field last time and goes out for the dangerous Michelle Nevin barn. My top pick is #12 My Sweet Wife. I could make some minor excuses for this mare when she was running for trainer Jorge Abreu late last year. She didn’t get the right trip on Oct. 22 going this distance, and then she was compromised by a lack of pace going shorter at Aqueduct. Since then she’s done a bit better racing in Florida, and now makes her second start off the claim for Peter Walder. I thought she ran well first off the claim in April when beaten by a quality rival in Passion Plus. This stable has had some success in New York recently, and I love this 5-year-old mare getting back to the 7-furlong distance. She won going this trip twice on the dirt earlier in her career, but she’s much more of a turf horse these days.


Morning line favorite #6 Southern Flag does own the best dirt form of anyone in this field, having earned solid speed figures in all three of his starts last season. He was also beaten by some pretty good horses in a few of those starts, particularly when turned away by subsequent stakes winner Miles D two back. He did achieve his best results going a little longer than this, so he has to prove he can handle a shorter trip off the layoff. Bill Mott is 8 for 56 (14%, $0.93 ROI) off 180+ day layoffs in dirt sprints over the past 5 years. There are some intriguing first time starters in this field. #7 Impulsiveness probably has the best pedigree, being by Quality Road and a half-brother to solid allowance type Winter Pool. His second dam is the undefeated champion filly Flanders. However, that pedigree says he wants to go longer, and I got that impression watching his sales workout from last year. #8 Accretive has more of a sprint pedigree, being by good debut sire Practical Joke. He’s posted some nice workout times for Chad Brown, though winning first time out with dirt sprinters isn’t his best stat. My top pick is #4 Proven Hope, who has an experience and recency edge on the aforementioned contenders. I thought he ran deceptively well in his debut at Gulfstream in March, making a middle move into the race after getting shuffled back early. He ran on decently in his second start against a solid field and then sustained a wide trip on turf last time. I don’t mind him switching back to the main track and the addition of blinkers could make a big difference for a horse who has been a little green in his races.


Perhaps this race is as simple as #5 Deep Cover just getting to the front and wiring the field, as he was able to do against N1X foes last time out. A repeat of that performance will make him pretty tough for this field to handle, as that 115 TimeformUS Speed Figure is simply faster than the numbers anyone else in this field has earned. However, he was aided by a yielding turf course that he obviously relished. He also could get some pressure here from #3 Not Phar Now, who seemingly has to go forward from his inside post position. Christophe Clement has the two most obvious alternatives in #6 Panster and #7 Phantom Smoke. The former probably deserves another chance after getting pushed out through the stretch last time before his riding just wrapped up on him. He needs some pace to close into, but should be running on late. Phantom Smoke is coming off a layoff, but was in great form when last seen, just missing at this level to the improved Dancing Buck. They both make some sense, but I wanted to search for a bit more value. #4 Runningwscissors interests me off his turf debut last time. While he finished well back in fifth, he got a pretty adventurous trip that day. He didn’t break that sharply, which then caused him to get shuffled out to the back of the field. Typically a speed, he got a bit rank at the back of the pack and ran up outside of horses to travel 4-wide around the far turn. He never completely threw in the towel, running on evenly late. I think he showed that he can handle turf, which isn’t a big surprise since he’s bred for this surface. Now he’s getting a rider upgrade to Luis Saez for low-profile connections and figures to be a generous price.

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