Belmont at the Big A Horses in Focus for Friday, October 21


I’m trying to beat likely favorite Its All Relevant (#8) here. I know this gelding has been a win machine throughout his career, primarily at Aqueduct. However, I haven’t been thrilled with his recent form. He lacked some of his early speed when he was run off the board three back, and I thought he had no excuse to get run down last time. He was allowed to get away with a soft opening quarter that day and still came up empty late. The Rudy Rodriguez hasn’t exactly been as potent as usual ever since Saratoga, so I’m looking at others. The logical alternative is Giocare (#4), the other horse from the Rudy Rodriguez barn. He’s getting class relief after proving no match for a tougher field last time. He’ll be coming late if the race falls apart, but his lack of early speed always puts him in a difficult position. I prefer two other alternatives at bigger prices. One of those is Warrior in Chief (#5), who makes his first start off a trainer switch to Ray Handal. This is a pretty significant trainer upgrade on a horse who once had competitive form, as Handal is 6 for 18 (33%, $2.88 ROI) off a trainer switch over the past 2 years. He’s been running poorly in his recent starts but is not dropping down to the lowest level of his career, and he has the tactical speed to pressure Its All Relevant early. My top pick is Parsimony (#2). I know this horse doesn’t have a reputation for winning races, as he’s settled for many a minor award in his career. However, it wasn’t that long ago that he was running races that would make him a strong fit against this group. I won’t hold his last race in the slop against him, as he was facing much tougher rivals, and he didn’t get the best trip two back. I like the turnback to a mile for him and he figures to be a fair price.


Likely favorite Disarmed (#4) got a pretty rough trip on debut and finished a disappointing fourth as the odds-on favorite. He again took money in his second start and earned a much better result despite another odd trip. He took an erratic course into the stretch, bumping another foe before finding a path between horses. He ultimately just missed, but was flattered when winner Vacation Dance returned to finish third in the G3 Futurity with. A repeat of that performance makes him awfully tough here and he still has some room to improve. He just doesn’t figure to be much of a price here. I greatly prefer him to his main rival Makar (#8), who was lucky not to be disqualified in his last start at Saratoga. He badly fouled multiple rivals at the start, cutting over several paths after leaving the gate. That allowed him to secure a clear early lead, but he still got run down in the late stages. If I’m going to take a shot against the favorite, I want to do so with a new face. First time starter No Regard (#10) has already sold at 4 different auctions, for whatever that’s worth. The highest price tag was $57k as a yearling, and most recently went for $45k at OBS June after working a furlong in 10 2/5. To my eye, he looked like a turf horse in that drill, which makes sense given the pedigree. Astern is a 19% juvenile debut sire whose progeny win 18% of their turf sprint starts. The dam, a minor winner on dirt, was 0 for 2 on turf and her lone foal never tried it. However, the second dam is multiple turf winner Spangled. John Terranova is 4 for 33 (12%, $5.71 ROI) with first time starters on turf over 5 years, and has won with plenty of these types in the past.

RACE 8: DAUNT (#5)

I didn’t think likely favorite Orchestration (#3) had much of an excuse to lose last time when he tried this distance for the first time. Winner Shawyshawdyshawdy has been in great form lately, but Orchestration got first run on that one and just didn’t produce much of a kick to the wire. He’s drawn well here and makes sense, but I didn’t want to settle for a short price on him. I’m most interested in a few 3-year-olds. Given the lack of pace in this race, I think you have to consider Good Medicine (#10). He’s not the quickest horse, but he should get another aggressive ride after breaking his maiden while setting the pace at this distance last time. He clearly prefers these longer trips and I think he’s subtly been moving forward for Todd Pletcher. I’m also intrigued by both horses exiting the G3 Jockey Club Derby earlier in the meet. The Grey Wizard (#9) is the one who figures to attract more attention after finishing second to the talented Nations Pride in that spot. However, he got a great trip, just saving ground on the turns before slipping through inside in the stretch. I prefer Daunt (#5) out of that race. He was uncharacteristically close to the pace while racing off the rail path throughout, and it did feel like the inside was an advantage during that time at Aqueduct. He never threw in the towel despite fading to fifth. I’ve always wanted to see this horse concentrate on marathon distances since he’s such a scopey galloper. This is a more realistic spot for him and he figures to go off at a generous price once again.

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