Belmont | Race 8 | Post Time 6:45 p.m. (ET) | TimeformUS PPs are now available on DRF.com. Go to PPs
I’m inclined to take a stand against likely favorite My Sea Cottage (#1) in this starter allowance. This Mark Casse trainee was entered on Apr. 29 at Aqueduct in a 6-furlong event at this level, which got rained off the turf. I find it interesting that they’ve now instead targeted a race going much farther, 1 1/16 miles. He obviously brings strong form from Florida. However, he was struggling to finish off those last couple of races going a mile, so it’s fair to wonder if he really wants this extra distance. It’s also worth noting that he’s had almost all of his success at Gulfstream Park, which is conducive to his style. Even though he looks formidable on paper, I have reservations and want to explore other options.
Some may look to Timbuktu (#6) as a possible alternative, especially after Richard Dutrow, Jr.’s success with his first starter in 10 years last Saturday. However, this colt has all the hallmarks of a runner who will be overbet, given that angle and the addition of jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. His turf races are decent, but he has to prove he can step up in class.
I’m instead interested in a couple of Barclay Tagg trainees. Parquetry (#2) makes some sense based on his improving speed figures from last season. He was simply overmatched when last seen at the N1X level, but his prior efforts give him a chance and he usually flies under the radar. Yet I’m most intrigued by Tagg’s other runner.
Shinsun (#7) also returns from a lengthy layoff, and Barclay Tagg’s numbers with this move are not the strongest. However, this gelding did win in his career debut last year, so we know he can perform when he’s fresh. That victory came at Belmont Park, and he produced a strong stretch rally from far back to get the job done. That style wasn’t as conducive to his subsequent starts, though he did run very well closing into a slow pace at Saratoga on July 23. Since then he got a couple of trips that just didn’t quite work out, but he was finishing well in all of those races. I love the way he’s been training for this in South Florida, appearing to do things very easily while usually going in company with Parquetry. This seems like a good spot for him off the layoff.
Our Country (#9) is another runner who ships up from Florida and he was actually facing some tougher fields in those recent starter optional claimers. He caught a particularly tough group of rivals last time, so I can excuse him for failing to make much of a late impact. He appears to be heading in the right direction since the claim by Mark Hennig and owns prior races at NYRA that would give him a chance. I could also use the also eligible runner Mauritius (#12) if he draws into the field. He didn’t have the most comfortable journey in his turf debut last time, but ran well behind a pair of solid rivals. He has better tactical speed than he’s displayed in recent starts, but would have to overcome a difficult post position.