Belmont at the Big A Horses in Focus for Friday, October 28


I’m not trying to beat possible favorite Going in Style (#5) in this opener. This gelding showed some promise on debut when running on mildly for fourth over a much shorter trip at Monmouth. He was a little green that day but galloped out well, looking like one that would appreciate the added distance in his next start. He then showed surprising early speed on the stretch-out, which caused him to tire late after chasing the superior winner through some quick early fractions. Forbidden Secret returned to win at Keeneland with a 103 TimeformUS Speed Figure – a 12-point improvement – and the runner-up came back to improve his Beyer by 18 points. He now takes the blinkers off, which may help him settle better in the early going. He’s bred to go this far and gets appropriate class relief dropping in for a tag. I would primarily use him with the other horse out of that Sep. 18 race. Outlaw Country (#3) was a little green racing in behind the leaders early, losing position along the rail at the break for the turn. He ultimately stayed on mildly while never really threatening for a placing. Yet he could show more speed this time and does have room to improve. Another horse who could be more forwardly placed here is Uncle Dan (#8). He’s finished far back in both starts, but showed some signs of life on turf last time, getting rank after a poor start. I’m not sure he wants to go this far, but he will appreciate the class relief as he gets back on dirt.


I suppose Oakhurst (#2) could go favored, assume she runs here instead of at Keeneland, where she’s cross-entered. However, I haven’t been thrilled with her form since she won so impressively in Kentucky earlier in the year. She got a great trip and had no excuse not to get past Eminent Victor in the Wild Applause, and then she was no factor in two subsequent stakes tries. She’s getting some class relief as she goes out for Michelle Nevin this time, but has to do better. Among the likely short prices, I prefer Silvestri (#3), who made her North American debut at Woodbine earlier this month for Christophe Clement. She always traveled like a winner that day, ranging up confidently before displaying a nice turn of foot to spurt away from that field. She’s stretching out around two turns here, but she had no troubles handling a mile in France last year. I believe she’s the horse to beat. My top pick is Lashara (#4). Her form looks pretty inconsistent at first glance, but I can easily make excuses for some of her poor efforts. She ran well first time out for the Mike Maker barn back in July when she made a wide move to just miss behind subsequent graded stakes winner Evvie Jets. I don’t care about her dirt race, and last time she didn’t get the best trip at Kentucky Downs. Irad Ortiz tried to angle her wide coming off the far turn, but engaged in bumping match with a foe before she flattened out. I think she’s better than that and can rebound stretching back out to a mile.


Likely favorite Tax Implications (#1) will obviously be tough to beat if she improves at all on her debut at Monmouth. She got a great trip, but displayed a strong turn of foot when she was produced into the clear in upper stretch. When horses draw off to win turf races by nearly 7 lengths, it’s usually an indictment of the competition. Yet this filly actually beat two horses who both came back to run well in their next starts. Runner-up Liguria returned to win a race on this circuit, and the third-place finisher just missed in her next start at Delaware Park. I’m just slightly concerned that she could get overbet with all of the obvious signs pointing to her. Chad Brown is 6 for 17 (35%, $1.53 ROI) with 2-year-old last-out debut winner in turf routes over 5 years, but the mediocre ROI highlights the short prices of most runners in this sample. There are some interesting alternatives if looking elsewhere. I’m not inclined to take the other Chad Brown trainee Implicated (#2), who beat a weak field last time. However, the two fillies drawn to her outside both offer some appeal at better prices. The Classy One (#3) is certainly bred to move up on turf as a full-sister to turf stakes winner Valedictorian, who also raced for Kelly Breen. Yet I’m going to another shipper, Lifelovenlaughter (#4), as my top pick. Mike Trombetta is an underrated trainer who can ship some live runners to the NYRA circuit. He’s 10 for 64 (16%, $3.33 ROI) in stakes at NYRA over the past 5 years. This filly hasn’t run particularly fast yet, but I thought she closed well in her debut after extricating herself from some traffic. She obviously handled the stretch-out last time when always appearing to have more to give when her rider asked for it. I think there’s still upside here and she figures to be a square price.

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