Monday TimeformUS Highlight Horse: Hop Picker should be fitter second off the layoff

Belmont | Race 8 | Post Time 4:40 p.m. (ET) | Go to the TimeformUS PPs | Not already a TimeformUS member? Sign up 

A solid case can be made for 5 of the 6 runners in this field competitive maiden field and even outsider Dolce Sera ran a competitive race at this level three back. 

The horse to beat is probably #5 Precursory, who earned a solid speed figure when finishing third at this level last time. She’s already proven she handles the one-mile distance, which is a question for some others in here. She ranged up like she might win last time but just flattened out a bit in the late stages. Perhaps that’s why Bill Mott adds blinkers for this third start, and she shows a nice workout over the training track last week. 

Todd Pletcher has a pair of entrants, though I’m a little skeptical of both. #6 Quotabelle didn’t finish after showing speed last time, and could play out as the pacesetter on the stretch-out. #3 Don’t Overlook Me finished better than her stablemate last time and is bred to go longer. However, she’s been a disappointment in both starts and is overdue to show some ability. 

Of the runners stretching out, I’m more convinced by #1 Demandsrespect. She closed well after getting outrun in the slop last time, and is out of a high-quality dam that could handle a mile. 

My top pick is #4 HOP PICKER, who actually cuts back slightly from 1 1/16 miles. She was disappointing as the 2-5 favorite that day in a race that looked very weak for the level. However, she had been off for 3 months since her promising debut and ran like a filly that might have needed the start. She traveled well early, showing improved tactical speed, but just got tired at the end. She’s since been put through a much more rigorous series of workouts than she had coming into the last race, so I’m expecting a step forward. She’s bred to be a good one, and I doubt we’ve yet seen the best from this McGaughey runner.

THE PLAY

WIN: #4 Hop Picker, at 2-1 or greater

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