Belmont Horses in Focus for Wednesday, October 16

Race 6: Daria’s Angel (#7)

  • Made her return from the layoff going a distance that is too short for her.
  • Earned some speed figures over the winter that would make her formidable here.
  • The Pace Projector is predicting that she will be on or near the lead in a situation favoring the front-runners.

4-1 on ML

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Race 7: Sinwaan (#6)

  • Got shuffled back on the turn last time and then wasn’t persevered with late.
  • Is one of the few fillies in this field shown the ability to pass horses.
  • DRF Formulator Fact: Over the past 5 years, Kiaran McLaughlin is 19 for 69 (28%, $2.18 ROI) with horses off for 60 to 120 days in dirt sprints.

6-1 on ML

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Monday TimeformUS Highlight Horse: Glorious Empire stretches out to a more appropriate distance in the Knickerbocker

Belmont | Race 8 | Post Time 5:11 p.m. (ET) | Go to the TimeformUS PPs 
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Catholic Boy (#7) is likely to be the favorite here despite the fact that he hasn’t raced since the Suburban in early July. This was not a planned layoff, as he has missed multiple targets along the way. Jonathan Thomas reportedly has him in better condition now, but it still remains to be seen if he can translate that preparation into a top effort. In retrospect, he didn’t run badly at all in the Suburban despite losing as the favorite. However, Catholic Boy’s turf performances are another matter. While he ran well in his match-ups with Analyze It last season, his return effort in the Dixie didn’t necessarily suggest that he had moved forward at all. Essentially, he’s going to be the favorite in this race based on the perception that he can improve on turf, rather than how fast he actually has run on turf.

Lucullan (#3), the likely second choice, just looks more trustworthy. He returned from a lengthy layoff this summer and didn’t take long to shake off the rust. He picked up a stakes win at Saratoga, and arguably ran the best race of his career when third last time in the Woodbine Mile. This 9-furlong distance should be more suitable for him and his versatile running style should allow him to work out a favorable trip. I believe he’s the horse to beat, but the price might not be enticing.

Glorious-Empire.png

I’m taking a shot with the classy GLORIOUS EMPIRE (#2). This 8-year-old is coming back on relatively short rest after an encouraging return at Laurel last time. While he only beat one horse home, he did well to overcome taxing pace scenario, putting away the other speed before getting overhauled late. People think of him as a marathon turf runner, but the 1 1/8 miles of this race actually suits him well. After all, he ran a career-best 128 TimeformUS Speed Figure in the Fort Lauderdale going this distance last December. He’s drawn perfectly right outside of his main pace rival Dr. Edgar so Edgar Prado should be able to work out a more comfortable trip than last time. If he can get back to top form with that one start under his belt, he’s a serious threat.

THE PLAY

Win: 2
Exacta Key Box: 2 with 1,3,5,7
Trifecta: 2 with 3,7 with ALL

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Belmont Horses in Focus for Monday, October 14

Race 2: Vip Nation (#8)

  • The Pace Projector is predicting that she could be on the lead in a No Speed scenario.
  • Runs her best races from the front end, and Kendrick Carmouche is sure to be sending her in this spot.
  • Has earned some of the highest TimeformUS Speed Figures on turf out of anyone in this field.

3-1 on ML

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Race 6: So Gracious (#4)

  • Ran very well going a sprint distance in her turf debut at Saratoga.
  • Was compromised by a tangled start going a distance that was too far for her last time.
  • This 7-furlong distance should be perfect for her, whereas her two main rivals may prefer either shorter or longer trips.

6-1 on ML

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Race 8: Glorious Empire (#2)

  • Proved that he doesn’t necessarily require marathon distances to be effective in the Fort Lauderdale last year.
  • Should have gotten needed fitness out of his return, in which he chased a very fast pace.
  • Is the most naturally talented runner in this field when he’s in top form.

9-2 on ML

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Sunday TimeformUS Highlight Horse: Red Knight stretches out to the right distance in the Point of Entry

Belmont | Race 7 | Post Time 4:40 p.m. (ET) | Go to the TimeformUS PPs 
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Todd Pletcher has two strong contenders in this Point of Entry Stakes. If he elects to run Noble Indy (#4) here rather than in Monday’s Knickerbocker, this gelding might be the favorite. His career has really turned around since they switched him to turf this year, and he picked up his first victory on this surface last time over some runners with stakes form. This race doesn’t feature any confirmed front-runners, so his speedy style figures to make him a major wire-to-wire threat. However, he will be stretching out to 1 1/2 miles for the first time since the 2018 Belmont Stakes, and he’ll be trying the longest distance he’s every attempted on the turf. While he doesn’t strike me as your quintessential turf marathoner, he could be pretty dangerous if he backs down the pace and it turns into a sprint to the wire, as was the case in that optional claiming score last time. I’m using him defensively, but I’d rather not take a horse at a short price who’s trying something for the first time.

Pletcher’s other runner, Pillar Mountain (#5), needs to improve a bit to earn his first stakes victory, but this seems like a good spot for him. He was simply overmatched in the Sword Dancer and Kentucky Turf Cup in his last two starts as the runner-ups in each of those races returned to photo for the win in the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic last week. My only concern with Pillar Mountain is that he’s a bit of a plodder and he’s not going to get any pace ahead of him to set up that late run.

Red-Knight.png

I’m going to give RED KNIGHT (#3) one more chance on the stretch-out. I took a shot with him in the Ashley T. Cole last time, but acknowledged that the distance might be a little short of his best trip. Now he’s stretching out to 1 1/2 miles, and he put forth a graded stakes-level performance going this distance in the Elkhorn back in April. While his recent form leaves something to be desired, the trips didn’t work out for him in either the Belmont Gold Cup or the Bowling Green. If Junior Alvarado can get him to settle today, I think he’s dangerous.

THE PLAY

Win: 3
Exacta Key Box: 3 with 1,4,5,7
Trifecta: 3 with 4,5,7 with 1,4,5,7

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Belmont Horses in Focus for Sunday, October 13

Race 3: Tass (#1)

  • Had significant trouble when steadying in traffic in the last eighth of a mile last time.
  • DRF Formulator Fact: Over the past 5 years, Chuck Lawrence is 6 for 28 (21%, $2.17 ROI) with runners getting Lasix for the first time.
  • Has more upside than many of her rivals as the most lightly-raced contender.

5-2 on ML

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Race 4: Prince of Pharoahs (#4)

  • Was one-paced in his debut, acting like a horse who should appreciate added ground.
  • Is bred to get better with distance, hailing from a family of route types.
  • DRF Formulator Fact: Over the past 5 years, Linda Rice is 13 for 33 (39%, $3.91 ROI) with maiden second time starters going from turf to dirt.

9-2 on ML

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Race 7: Red Knight (#3)

  • Will appreciate stretching back out in distance, since he ran arguably his best race going 12 furlongs in the Elkhorn.
  • Had excuses when he got poor trips in both the Bowling Green and the Belmont Gold Cup.
  • Is reunited with Junior Alvarado, who rode him well early in his career.

7-2 on ML

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Saturday TimeformUS Highlight Horse: Rider switch should benefit Fear No Evil in the Floral Park

Belmont | Race 7 | Post Time 4:07 p.m. (ET) | Go to the TimeformUS PPs
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Goldwood (#6) is expected to start here after getting scratched out of a stakes at Keeneland on Friday, and she’s likely to be a strong favorite. This mare has really come to hand as a 5-year-old, and is now seeking her sixth consecutive stakes victory. While she is clearly in top form right now, Goldwood does have to handle the slight stretch-out to 6 furlongs, which is a minor hurdle. Furthermore, it’s not as if her recent set of speed figures give her some massive edge over this field, as a couple of her rivals have run just as fast in recent starts.

I respect her, but I think we can look elsewhere for better value. Fire Key (#1) is a perfectly logical alternative after falling just a half-length shy of reeling in the favorite in the Sensible Lady at Laurel last time. Fire Key loves this 6-furlong distance, having finished in the exacta in 10 for 11 starts over this trip. Furthermore, she has a versatile running style that should allow her to adapt to any pace scenario.

Fire Key is clearly a strong contender, but my top pick is Fear No Evil, who figures to be a much better price.

Fear-No-Evil.png

FEAR NO EVIL (#3) has finished behind Fire Key a number of times over the past two seasons, but she hasn’t always gotten ideal trips in their matchups. That was certainly true last time when Fear No Evil was shuffled back on the far turn then steadied and forced to alter course when attempting to rally in the stretch. She’s clearly better than that effort, as she displayed in this very race last year. Overall, her 2019 form has been fairly strong, so I don’t believe she’s lost a step. Furthermore, she’s finally getting a rider switch to Joel Rosario, who just seems like a perfect fit for this mare’s running style.

THE PLAY

Win: 3
Exacta Key Box: 3 with 1,6,7
Trifecta: 3 with 1,6 with ALL

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Belmont Horses in Focus for Saturday, October 12

Race 6: Power Up Paynter (#8)

  • Paynter is a decent turf influence and this colt has been intended for grass from the start.
  • Ran better than it seems in his debut, rushing up while racing in the bridle before abruptly tiring.
  • DRF Formulator Fact: Over the past 5 years, Linda Rice is 7 for 27 (26%, $2.64 ROI) with second time starting maidens going from dirt to turf.

5-1 on ML

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Race 7: Fear No Evil (#3)

  • Encountered significant trouble when attempting to rally through traffic last time.
  • Has run some of her best races going the 6-furlong distance.
  • Gets a positive rider switch to Joel Rosario, who should be a perfect fit for her running style.

8-1 on ML

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Race 9: Olendon (#2)

  • It’s hard to make an excuse for her Belmont Oaks, but it’s the only truly poor race she’s run this season.
  • Had a significant excuse in the Saratoga Oaks last time when she got rank with blinkers on.
  • Has continued to train well into this race and Chad Brown doesn’t set his sights much lower.

5-1 on ML

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