Belmont Horses in Focus for Thursday, June 30


#2 Crypto Cash will probably win this race as a heavy favorite, but I have some reservations. He’s going to take money based on that 92 Beyer he earned last time out, and I have some doubts about that number since it was a career-best for each of the top three finishes. TimeformUS has the race much slower (98), which is more in line with Crypto Cash’s prior efforts. He’s been in solid form recently, and has finished in the exacta in 6 of his last 7 starts. However, I just think he may get overbet as he’s claimed back by Rob Atras. It’s also hard for me to ignore the likely pace scenario, as the TimeformUS Pace Projector depicts the favorite towards the back of the pack in a situation favoring the front-runner. That early leader is likely to be #5 Musical America, who figures to be the longest shot in this field. Many will dismiss him based on his recent set of results, but he’s run better than it might appear in a few of those races. Though he was only claimed for $10k by these connections, he didn’t run that badly when immediately stepped up into a $62,500 optional claimer in his next start. He also held his own at the $32k level two back after failing to make the lead over some superior rivals. His last effort was a poor, but that was a very hot pace for the distance, as all of the speeds fell apart in what was a fast race for the level. Given the favorable pace setup, I think he can rebound here for connections have delivered with longshots from time to time.


Both Christophe Clement runners figure to attract support in this New York-bred maiden special weight event, but I can’t say that I’m convinced either one is worth taking at a short price. #5 Topic Changer is the one with experience, having closed for second in a maiden claiming event on debut. He didn’t get a particularly strong speed figure for the effort, and finished far behind the winner while just barely edging out some inferior rivals. He has to do better to contend here. #10 Olympic Dreams is perhaps more interesting as a first time starter for a barn that does well with these types. However, it’s not really a turf pedigree, as his dam achieved all of her wins on turf, and his lone sibling is dirt runner Frost Me. That said, he is by Medaglia d’Oro so he does have a right to handle this surface. It won’t be a shock if he fares well here, but I don’t need him as the potential favorite. I’m interested in a couple of runners trying this surface for the first time. The more logical of the two is #6 Compromiser, who merely has to transfer his solid dirt debut performance to the grass. That’s often easier said than done, but he does have pedigree to handle turf, being a half-brother to 2 surface winners. He lacked speed in his debut, but was really finishing with interest, as Trakus caught him getting his final quarter in 23.51 seconds. He goes out for low-profile connections, but he appears to have real ability in a race where others have yet to prove their quality. My top pick is #9 Conquist. He obviously has to take a step forward with the surface switch, but I’ve been waiting for this colt to get a chance on the grass. Nyquist is just a mediocre turf influence, getting 10% turf winners overall, and there’s limited pedigree on the dam’s side. Yet this horse just moves like one that should take to turf. He has a big, loping stride that should lend itself well to stretching out on the grass. I would have liked to see him run a bit better in his return last time, but John Kimmel doesn’t do that well off layoffs. Kimmel is, however, 5 for 33 (15%, $4.83 ROI) with maidens trying turf for the first time over the past 5 years. There isn’t much speed in this field, so he should be able to get to the front end through moderate fractions, and I’ll find out if he can handle turf at a square price.


#7 Easter figures to be pretty tough as he drops out of the Grade 1 Man O’ War into this N1X allowance event. He actually ran pretty well in that graded stakes test, finishing just 2 3/4 lengths behind Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Yibir. That was going today’s 1 3/8 miles distance, and he earned a speed figure that towers over this field. I am a little concerned that his performance last time is somewhat attributable to the nature of turf racing, in which inferior horses can get carried along to faster numbers by superior competition. However, he had also shown ability in his stateside debut when closing to get up for 3rd against a tougher field at this level. He makes plenty of sense, but I wouldn’t want to take too short a price given my minor reservations. #2 Q F Seventy Five should play out as the one to catch. It’s a little surprising to see him stretching out in distance after he ran off in the early going at 9 furlongs last time. He surely ran the best race that day, as the pace was on the quick side, but he paid the price for those enterprising tactics. Rosario has to get him to settle better this time, but he’s clearly in great form right now and is due to break through at this level. My top pick is #1 Balthus. I can’t say that I love him in this spot, but it just feels like he’s a horse who has been slow to come around for Chad Brown. His first couple of starts were pretty poor, but he’s really improved since getting gelded over the winter. I thought he closed well to just miss two back, and he was much the best last time, when running to the wire dueling with a riderless horse well ahead of the pack. The further stretch-out in distance should suit this son of Galileo and he’s drawn well inside. I would want a square price on him, and this barn does take money, but it feels like the two aforementioned runners have to be shorter on the tote board.

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