Belmont at the Big A Horses in Focus for Sunday, October 23


There are question marks surrounding nearly every runner in this field. Bat Flip (#6) could go favored after putting in a nice late rally for second behind subsequent Futurity winner Nagirroc when he got on turf last time. However, that was a sprint and there’s no guarantee he’ll fare as well on the stretch-out despite having some pedigree for it. From a pedigree standpoint, one has to consider the Chad Brown trained first time starter Faraday (#2). He’s a half-brother to Grade 1 turf winner Sadler’s Joy, as well as a full-brother to turf stakes winner Wolfie’s Dynaghost, who also was a debut winner. The workouts don’t exactly jump off the page, but Chad Brown can be successful with these types. American Hustle (#10) could be viewed as the proven commodity after he ran well in a similar spot last time. He did get a little rank early in that race, but ultimately got a good trip and just hung through the stretch. He’s now drawn an outside post position over a course that has been favoring inside paths. I’d rather take a runner with upside from that affair. Wisecraken (#7) finished last on debut but the performance was more interesting than that result suggests. He’s a big, good looking colt but just looked very green throughout that race. He hopped at the start and was far back early before actually running on well at the end despite failing to pass a horse. The rider also just kept him on the rail while all the meaningful closing was done outside. I expect to see a more professional effort this time with blinkers added.


With plenty of speed signed on, the pace of this Carle Place looks ripe to fall apart. I’m fairly skeptical of a horse like That’s Right (#2), who will be looking to wire the field. This runner is a 5-furlong specialist who has shown stamina limitations in a few of his turf starts. He does come in having won 4 of his last 5 starts on this surface, but he’s stepping up to meet a tougher field than the one he beat in that Grade 3 at Parx last time. The other horse who figures to take plenty of money is Outlaw Kid (#3). He looks formidable off his last speed figure, earned when beating an allowance field by nearly 5 lengths. However, a few horses out of that race ran poorly last week. He has talent but is likely to be the shortest price of his career despite stepping up against a tough field. The potential for a quick pace, should benefit a pair of runners who faced off at Kentucky Downs last time. Too Many Twizzlers (#4) won that Sep. 14 allowance race when closing up the rail. He just ran out of ground when closing behind That’s Right two back, but has otherwise been coming along nicely for Arnaud Delacour. He should be suited by the 6-furlong distance with some pace ahead of him, though his consistent gate issues are a minor concern. I prefer Sosua Summer (#10) out of that last race. He could only manage to finish third as the favorite, but had to alter course in the stretch while encountering some traffic. I really liked the visual of his maiden score two back when he turned back, and he faced some tough rivals on turf prior to that. While he has more experience than some others in here, it feels like his connections have just discovered that he’s a turf sprinter, and I think he still has some upside now that they’re running him in the right races.


I wouldn’t argue with anyone who claims that Royal Dancer (#9) is the horse to beat and most likely winner of this race. She’s run well in all of her prior turf starts and nearly won a couple of stakes earlier this year while still a maiden. I do wonder if she’s a bit better going longer than this, because I haven’t been quite as taken with her races going 6 furlongs and shorter. She got to set a moderate pace when breaking her maiden last time against a soft field, but her early speed should allow her to make her own good trip. Given the wide open nature of this race, I didn’t want to settle for the favorite and instead wanted to do some price shopping. My top pick is Dufresne (#2). This filly should appreciate the cutback in distance after trying two turns twice at Saratoga. She ran quite well two back in that route stakes where the pace came apart. Prior to that, she faced some tougher rivals in her most recent turf sprint on July 2. She doesn’t have to be quite as far back as she was in some of those turf sprints earlier this year, and I think she’s improved since then. She should be a fair price for an underrated trainer. I also want to use Silken Dollar (#7) at anything near her morning line odds. She possesses the tactical speed to be more forward than she was last time, which would serve her well in a largely paceless affair. She had an excuse in that July 29 effort, and may be a bit better than she looks on paper. 

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