Belmont | Race 4 | Post Time 2:32 p.m. (ET) | TimeformUS PPs are now available on DRF.com. Go to PPs
I’m not thrilled with a few of the horses who could attract support in this $25k claimer. Strong Odor (#4) could go favored as she returns to turf. I didn’t really like any of her performances on the synthetic track at Turfway over the winter, but she’s probably better on the grass. She did face some much tougher fields late last year and ran respectably a few times. Yet with that in mind, I find it troubling that they’re just giving her away for $25k getting back on her preferred surface.
I’m even less thrilled with Jill’s a Hot Mess (#2) and Crowding Out (#5). The former was in good form last year, but this drop off the layoff feels like a bad sign for a barn that has generally struggled on this circuit. Crowding Out looks to be in better form, but she hasn’t been finishing off her recent 5-furlong races at Gulfstream the way I would want to see, and I have questions about her getting this distance.
Itsakeyper (#1) makes plenty of sense as she returns to the NYRA circuit. She faced some subtly tougher fields upon returning in Florida, especially last time out at Tampa when she closed belatedly for fourth. She’s now third off the layoff and is dropping back down to a more realistic level. Any pace that develops up front will also help her.
My top pick is Spicy Margarita (#6). She has to avoid getting involved in a potentially fast early pace with other speed signed on, but at least she’s drawn to the outside, which should give Carol Cedeno options. I’m a big fan of the progeny of Cinco Charlie getting on the turf, and this filly took a big step forward switching to grass last time. That 99 TimeformUS Speed Figure makes her very competitive here, and I really liked the way she finished off that race. She has a floating, bouncy stride that really translated well to grass, and I liked the way she maintained her action all the way through the finish. I think she can win again on the class rise, and the price should be fair.