Belmont at the Big A Horses in Focus for Sunday, September 25


If I’m going to take anyone from that Aug. 27 affair at Saratoga, I want it to be horses that were forwardly placed, as that race completely fell apart. Kreesa (#6) and Empire Sky (#5) both closed to get into the trifecta and are sure to take money off those performances. However, they each benefited from the hot early pace and I’m not sure how much running either one actually did. Kreesa is probably more appealing given his obvious upside as a second time starter, but he’s also going to be the shortest price. I prefer Ripe for Mischief (#3) from that race. He got a strange trip, as he was ridden hard to challenge the leader early before backing off on the turn. He then came again at the end and lost his path right at the wire, though that late trouble didn’t significantly alter the result. This horse interests me because he also ran better than it appears in his prior starts. Three back he set a very fast pace that fell apart and last time he got a wide trip chasing another quick pace. However, I do also want to look beyond those exiting that Travers day maiden event and consider a couple of new faces. My Slick Nick (#2) might be placed too ambitiously on the class rise, but I’ve been waiting for him to try the turf. His dam was strictly a turf horse and he looks like one that should move up on this surface. He also has the speed to be forwardly placed in a race that doesn’t feature that much pace. The other interesting runner is Racey Type (#10), who also tries turf for the first time while switching into the Asmussen barn. He’s by good turf influence Freud, and is a half to one decent turf horse. 


There is some guesswork to be done in this two-year-old maiden special weight event. Chad Brown has entered a pair of first time starters, of which Palace Gate (#9) seems like the preferred one with Irad Ortiz named to ride. However, this son of Justify doesn’t possess much turf pedigree. His dam won the Delaware Oaks and was best on dirt. Kaw Liga (#8) has the better pedigree for grass as a half-brother to turf stakes winner Cavalry Charge. He was a $600k purchase for Peter Brant and appears to be spotted appropriately. However, I’m more interested in those with experience. Conversing (#12)would obviously be dangerous if he were to draw into the field. He did save ground in his debut at a time when the rail was the place to be, but he still ran on well in the late stages despite racing greenly though the stretch. I think he has upside, though a wide post wouldn’t be ideal if he gets in. Determinedly (#10) drops back into maiden company after trying a stakes last time. However, I was expecting a better effort from him that day. It wasn’t the strongest race for the level and he just lacked late punch. He did have some trouble two back, but he also had the pace in his favor that day. I’m going in a different direction with first time turfer Triple Start (#3). This son of American Pharoah was meant for turf on debut, but stayed in once the race was rained onto the dirt. He put in a game effort to challenge the winner a couple of times before fading in the stretch. He strikes me as one that should improve on turf given his pedigree. Though he is a half-brother to Persistently, a Grade 1 winner on dirt, his second dam Heavenly Prize proved to be a strong turf influence as a broodmare. He’s also a half-brother to Double Jackpot, who has been a good turf producer as a broodmare. I liked the one grass workout that I saw up in Saratoga, and think he can step forward in his second start.


Kelly Breen sends out a couple of fillies making their first starts off the claim, both exiting strong barns and coming off last-out victories. Train to Artemus (#8) exits the stronger performance, having run a field off its feet last time en route to a 3-length score. However, the margin would have been closer if the runner-up hadn’t blown the start that day.Crowding Out (#10) might be a little more reliable off her last performance, though she was facing a weak field that day and inexplicably failed to show up two back. I ultimately wanted to look for some alternatives. Abuse of Power (#2) makes sense as she takes her second crack at this condition. She ran fine first off the claim for Horacio De Paz last time when perhaps used a bit too much early in the race. She earned a strong speed figure for her victory two back and will be tough with a repeat of that performance. My top pick exits the same race, but finished farther back. Thismightbetheone (#3) looks a little light on the speed figure scale coming into this, but she’s in better form than it appears. She rode the rail in her May 14 performance at a time when you didn’t really want to be inside on the inner turf course at Belmont. Then two back she clipped heels, losing all chance early in the race. And last time out she found herself so far back early due to a bad stumble at the start before making a decent late run. I think she’s dangerous if Prat can finally work out a trip for her. 

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