Belmont Horses in Focus for Friday, July 8

RACE 2: BYE BYE (#3)

#7 Bay Storm is obviously the horse to beat as she returns to the site of her last victory, a triumph over this course and distance in the Christiecat last September. She led from gate-to-wire that day, and figures to use similar tactics here given the lack of speed signed on in this affair. The TimeformUS Pace Projector is predicting a situation favoring the early leader, and she looks loose up front. Her two races since returning from a layoff this year have been decent, but I thought she was supposed to offer more of a finish last time as the 4-5 favorite. I’m taking a shot against her with #3 Bye Bye. This Christophe Clement trainee made her return from the layoff at this level last time and put in a good effort to just miss. That was a day when the rails were set at 9 feet on the inner turf course, and the inside path probably wasn’t the best place to be. I think she can move forward with that start under her belt, and she had a nice foundation of solid turf sprint form from her 3-year-old season that she can still build upon. I prefer her to the other obvious alternative #4 Alwayz Late, who could be somewhat compromised by the lack of pace in this affair. I’m actually more afraid of Clement’s other runner #8 Mischievous Dream, who was a visually impressive winner last time and has seemingly found her niche as a turf sprinter.

RACE 5: SIDEKICK (#4)

I have no major knocks against #6 Gasoline, who is overdue to break his maiden after posting strong speed figures in the first three starts of his career. He just ran into a better rival last time when run down by the promising Artorius. He has the tactical speed to work out a good trip and goes out for a barn that has really come alive in recent weeks. He’s the one to beat, but he figures to be a short price now that his form is totally exposed. I actually think #5 Winit has more upside from that June 10 affair, though it remains to be seen if he can turn the tables on Gasoline. Winit showed promise when overcoming a wide trip to be second at Gulfstream in his dirt debut over the winter, and took a further step forward in his return last time. I think this well-bred son of Tapit still has upside and he should be a square price. My top pick is #4 Sidekick. This son of Honor Code is a half-brother to Travers winner Code of Honor, so the pedigree is there for him to be a good one. He ran like a horse that would benefit from more ground in his career debut when rallying belatedly to get up for third. I liked the way he seemed to level off and run to daylight in the last furlong in a race that didn’t feature a particularly strong pace. Shug McGaughey is 8 for 30 (27%, $2.60 ROI) with maiden second time starters going from sprints to dirt routes over the past 5 years. 

RACE 8: ROMANOSA (#1) / ANGELINKA (#1A)

#9 Invincible Gal is supposed to beat this field as she returns from a layoff and makes her first start for the Chad Brown barn. Graham Motion did a good job with her, but she did develop a habit of settling for second, just never able to get back to the winner’s circle after winning her career debut. Most of those subsequent starts came against stakes company, so she figures to appreciate dropping back down into an allowance. I don’t fully trust her to seal the deal at a short price and she seems like the kind of runner on which the public could go overboard. Nevertheless I do prefer her to Brown’s other entrant #6 Nazuna, who didn’t have a major excuse when checking in second at this level last month. I instead prefer #1 Romanosa from that affair. She was making her first start in this country for Christphe Clement, which is not a strong move for the barn. She finished far back, but I thought she got the wrong trip, sitting on the rail in a race that was dominated by outside movers. It’s unclear how much she would have had to offer in the lane, but she was forced to alter course while rallying. I like her French form and think she can do better here. She’s part of an entry, which normally would be an issue for me. Yet I also like her entrymate #1A Angelinka. This filly faced lesser company in France and Germany, but achieved decent results, showing steady improving over the course of 2021. She did her best running on the lead in Europe, so it was curious to see her rated aggressively in her U.S. debut last time. Irad Ortiz stays aboard here, but at least she’s landing in a race that figures to feature a more honest pace, so she’ll have a better chance to settle if he rates her again. I just think she’s better than that stateside debut would indicate and the entry figures to be a fair price given the presence of two Chad Brown runners.

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