Belmont at the Big A Horses in Focus for Thursday, October 20


Though he’s only made 6 starts in his career, you already get the sense that Ocean’s Reserve (#5) is on his way to professional maiden status. He clearly hung in the late stages after seemingly making a winning move back on June 9, allowing the winner to come back and beat him. He then proceeded to do the exact same thing in three more starts, all at short prices. His loss last time is particularly concerning, as he had dead aim on a longshot first time starter after his main rival blew the start, but just refused to go by for the entire stretch drive. His speed figures obviously make him the horse to beat, but it’s awfully hard to endorse him at another short price. Some looking for alternatives may go to the first time starters, but neither one did quite enough for me. I’m instead most interested in Our Son Jake (#2) as the potential upsetter. This colt was steadily improving on dirt leading up to that turf experiment back in July. Obviously grass just isn’t his surface, and he’s getting back on his preferred footing here. Notably, he was contesting a pace that fell apart two back. One of the horses he dueled with, 4th-place finisher Two for Charging, came back to win next time out with an 11-point speed figure improvement, beating Ocean’s Reserve in the process. The layoff is a bit of a concern, especially considering that he has to improve again on even his best performance to graduate here. Some may also be concerned that the Mike Miceli barn has been pretty cold recently, going 1 for 37 (3%, $0.78 ROI) over the past 5 months. However, Miceli did have a couple of frustrating beats in September and interestingly this is the first horse that he’s entered after a 3-week gap with no starters.


I’m not sure how the betting public is going to approach this seemingly wide open New York-bed optional claimer. If they do go for morning line favorite Classic Lady (#2), I want no part of that runner. She is getting class relief here, but she was terrible last time, lacking any acceleration after working out a perfect trip. Something appears to have gone wrong with this once classy mare, and the drop in for $45k seems like a bad sign. Among the potential short prices, I’d rather go for the upside of horses like Whatlovelookslike (#3) or She’s a Mia (#10). The former has obviously drawn a much better post position. This Todd Pletcher trainee hasn’t run particularly fast in her recent races, but she always shows up with an honest effort and has a way of making her own good trips. She’s a Mia was visually impressive in victory just 12 days ago, but she got a much better trip than her stablemate New Ginya, who got rolling too late after getting buried in traffic. They’re both usable, but I wanted to go in a different direction. I’m not sure why Masterof the Tunes (#9) is again running for this N2X allowance condition despite still being eligible for the N1X level. However, she showed last time out that she fits well against this tougher company. She was clearly best that day despite finishing second, as she was wide around both turns and made the first move to take over in a race that was coming apart at the end. She also ran better than the result indicates two back when encountering early trouble and racing wide over a rail-biased course. If Eric Cancel can work out a decent trip for her, she’s a real threat.


This conditioned claiming event is arguably the most wide open race on the card. The favorites don’t stand on particularly firm ground and there’s some kind of case to be made for almost every runner in the field. Golquist (#3) or Maseta (#1)appear most likely to take money in this race, and I wouldn’t be particularly fond of either one at short prices. The former seems like an especially poor gamble, as he is totally unreliable to show up from race to race. He also achieved his best result when benefited from a rail bias and slow pace going two turns. Maseta is a little more appealing, as he hasn’t ever gotten a chance to sprint on turf. He’s a handy horse who may not mind the turnback, and William Morey has done well with turf claims in the past. I just want to search for some better value in a race that looks so competitive. He’s Got It (#4) should go off at a better price than both aforementioned runners. While he’s never actually crossed the wire first in his career, he did show he could handle this distance when justifiably put up via disqualification in his maiden score over this track. Since then he hasn’t hit the board in any of his starts for James Ryerson. However, he did run deceptively well two back when chasing outside against a rail bias. Then last time he set an extremely fast pace in a race that fell apart. I like the turnback in distance for him and believe he’s in better form than it appears. My top pick at what is likely to be an even bigger price is Moon Hunter (#2). He looks a little slow from a speed figure standpoint, but he’s had significant excuses in every start since getting claimed by Gary Sciacca. He was off awkwardly on Aug. 14, never raced on the rail during a rail bias period, and was compromised by an extremely slow pace. He again encountered trouble on Sep. 3 when racing wide every step of the way against a much tougher field. I don’t care about the dirt race last time, as his form is now so obscured that he has to be a generous price. He’s getting back to the right surface and distance, and takes a needed drop in class.

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