Belmont at the Big A Horses in Focus for Thursday, September 29

RACE 4: BIG Q (#3)

My primary opinion in this $25k claimer is that I want to play against the Jose Camejo entry of Viradia (#2) and Alpine Queen (#2B). Many will just assume they’ll improve off the claim since Camejo has had a great deal of success with this NYRA starters and he’s named top riders on both. I just don’t need a short price on horses who are little hard to like based on form. U Guys Are No Fun (#7) makes some sense as she drops in for a tag for the first time in her career. However, she’s been a bit of a disappointment on dirt, and I’m not convinced that she’s a natural sprinter. She’s also being ridden by a jockey who has limited success on this circuit. Fellow dropdown Mia Bea Star (#1A) is more interesting to me as she seeks to rebound from a couple of poor efforts. I don’t mind the turnback for her, and she figures to be a better price. Yet I’m most interesting in a couple of other mares who are moving up the class ladder. My top pick is Big Q (#3). She ran poorly last time out as the favorite, but she’s getting a trainer upgrade out of that race, as she was claimed by Jose D’Angelo. This barn hasn’t started that many runners in New York, but does well off the claim out of town. She has plenty of prior races at a higher level that would make her competitive here. I also expect her to get an aggressive ride from Luis Saez in a race that lacks a clear pace scenario. The other horse I’d use from that same race is Shadolamo (#6). I think it’s interesting that the connections are reuniting her with Jackie Davis, who rode her well earlier in the year. She’s more pace dependent than my top pick, but she’s run well in each of her last two dirt sprints.


This optional claiming turf sprint seems fairly wide open, and I’m somewhat against the horse who I’ve pegged as the morning line favorite. Hit the Woah (#5) figures to attract some support off her victory at the N2X level last time. However, she got a great setup that day, just tracking the pace in a race where the heavy favorite was compromised by rushing up to lead after a poor start. I’m not thrilled with her prior form and want others. Assertive Style (#6) makes plenty of sense on the turnback. She didn’t get the right ride or trip last time when reserved off a slow pace while racing wide every step of the way. She had put forth a good effort going this distance against a tougher field in the Intercontinental prior to that, and appears to be in solid form. My top pick is Fouette (#7). She made her turf debut in the Smart N Fancy last time at Saratoga and significantly outran her 37-1 odds to finish sixth, beaten less than two lengths. Linda Rice has been intending to get her on turf, entering and scratching her from the Caress prior to running in that stakes last time. While she got a pretty good trip, I liked the way she fought on along the rail through the lane finishing in tandem with some rivals who would be short prices against a field like this. She has good tactical speed and is drawn well outside this time. I would also use Keeper of Time (#2) on the turnback in distance. She hasn’t gone quite this short in any of her U.S. starts, but I thought she ran well at 7 furlongs in the Glen Cove last fall. The turnback could work for her, and she figures to be a decent price.


Golden Alchemist (#3) could go favored in this N1X allowance affair. He looks pretty formidable if you draw a line through his last race, where he disappointed in a Grade 3 at Parx. Some horses just don’t perform over that track, and he never really got involved in the race that day. His maiden victory in July was excellent and he’ll be tough to beat if he builds on that performance. I’m just not so keen to simply dismiss the last race of a horse who is going to be a short price. Todd Pletcher sends out two of his main rivals in Gasoline (#5) and Up to the Mark (#6). I’ll be interested to see if they both run, since they possess similar running styles. Gasoline is proven at the distance after breaking his maiden going this far last time, though he got a perfect setup in doing so. Winit (#9) easily defeated Gasoline when he broke his maiden in July at Belmont, earning a speed figure that makes him formidable here. However, he failed to back up that performance last time at Saratoga. He did have an excuse that day, as he was off a step slowly and rushed up while getting too keen after that. I think he’s a candidate to rebound here at a better price. Even if Pletcher scratches one of his runners there appears to be enough pace in here to set up a late closer. Affable Monarch (#8) comes into this NYRA start a little light on speed figures, but I think he be ready for a step forward. This horse showed promise as a 2-year-old, impressively winning his debut before immediately stretching out in distance. He was slow to come around when he returned from a layoff this year, but his last few starts have been heading in the right direction. I thought he ran particularly well last time when overcoming a moderate pace to just miss. He seems like one that’s crying out for 1 1/8 miles and Manny Franco should be a good fit for this grinder.

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