Full card picks for Belmont Stakes week's Friday races

June 08, 2018 03:11pm
Imperial Hint wins 2017 Smile Sprint
Photo: Gulfstream Park

Race 1-1 1/16 Miles Turf, 3YO & Up, Optional Claiming

Opening race of the weekend appears to go through trainer Chad Brown. Graded stakes winner #6 Ticonderoga steps down in class here, and it looks as if there is enough pace to set up his late kick. His stablemate #8 Almanaar make his return to the races after a 16-month layoff. Was last seen winning a Grade 1, but might need a race to shake the rust off. #5 Aquaphobia is ultra-consistent, whose best effort at this distance make him contender.

Selections 6-8-5-7


Race 2-6 Furlongs Turf, 3YO & Up Fillies/Mares, Md Sp Wt

In a wide-open race, #4 Barrel of Joy was a different horse when trying the grass for the first time. With a hot projected early pace, look for Barrel of Joy to come flying late at a square price. #12 Shanghai Dreams debuts for trainer George Weaver, who excels with first-time starters on grass. Working since last summer, something must have gone awry, but looks to be back to full health based on his recent drills. #6 Mama Mary is out of dam that has thrown 7 winners (2 stake winners) from 10 runners. Trainer Joe Sharp rarely runs in New York, but must be respected when he ships in.

Selections 4-12-6-11


Race 3-7 Furlongs., 4YO & Up Fillies/Mares, Bed o‘ Roses Inv. (Grade 3)

#2 American Gal loves the track and appears that she will have things her own way on the front end. #5 Divine Miss Gray is a versatile type that should follow the top pick all the way around. She can battle for the lead, but pass horses if need be. #8 Highway Star has never been off the board at Belmont and last fall at the Breeders’ Cup was only time she was off the board at 7 furlongs. She is not a win factor, but an obvious candidate to fill out exotics at a huge price.  

Selections 2-5-8-6


Race 4-6 Furlongs Turf, 3YO & Up, Optional Claiming

In another very difficult race, it looks like most need the early lead to win. Therefore, #1 Phi Beta Express is the top choice. Though untried on grass, he is the speed of the speed and his dam has thrown a grass winner. #9 Expected Ruler is light on speed figures, but should pick up some pieces if the pace collapses as expected. #5 Dowse’s Beach returned from a 6-month layoff going a mile. Look for an improved effort second off the bench and getting back to a turf sprint.

Selections 1-9-5-8


Race 5-5 ½ Furlongs, 2YO, Tremont

As is the theme with many of the day’s races, yet another very evenly matched field. #4 Outshine impressively broke his maiden over a sloppy track at Belmont when rallying from well off the pace. Dam Life Lessons’ 3 winners all won at the age of 2, so precociousness runs in the family. #6 Sir Truebadour wired a field from the rail at Churchill Downs upon debut. Expects to face pace pressure, but an outside draw definitely is a plus. #7 Mae No Never is a filly facing boys for 2-year-old guru trainer, Wesley Ward.  First out, jockey Gary Stevens (who retains the mount) traveled cross country for her debut, hinting she showed talent from the onset.

Selections 4-6-7-1


Race 6-7 Furlongs, 3YO & Up, Md Sp Wt

#6 Illudere debuts for Jimmy Jerkins and is out of a stakes-placed dam that has thrown 1 winner in as many runners. She’s been working quickly (all breezing workouts) every 6-7 days since April in preparation for today. #3 Support the Cause hails from the powerful duo of Chad Brown & Irad Ortiz Jr., who are winning at a 37% clip (76% in the money) the last 60 days. #8 Fallstar owns the best figs in the race, but both were at routes (one on the grass). He will have to prove that he can reproduce those cutting back to a sprint off the layoff.

Selections 6-3-8-5


Race 7-1 Mile Turf, 3YO & Up, Optional Claiming

#8 Raging Bull goes for Chad Brown and was ultra-impressive in his debut. While this is a big jump in class, speed figures suggest he’s up for the challenge and there’s plenty of early speed here to set up his late kick. #12 Have it All hasn’t been seen yet in 2018. Working every 7 days and getting Lasix for the first time suggest he’s ready to fire a big shot. Trainer Clement is 19% off the bench and 21%% first time Lasix types. #7 War Chest has caught some slow paces in his last 2 races, so with what looks like a hot early pace, he should be rolling late at a big price.  

Selections 8-12-7-5


Race 8-6 1/2 Furlongs, 4YO & Up, True North Stakes (Grade 2)

#3 Imperial Hint got hooked in a speed duel last out at 7 furlongs when favored on Derby Day. He must contend with some other front runners, but looks like the speed of the speed while cutting back in distance. #8 Whitmore has a great shot to complete the exacta at a big price, but would need a complete pace meltdown to find the winner’s circle. #4 Bobby Abu Dhabi is a California invaders that looks little light on speed figures, but is in career form and must be respected from the Peter Miller barn.

Selections 3-5-8-2


Race 9-1 1/4 Miles Turf, 4YO & Up, New York Stakes (Grade 2)

#5 Sistercharlie is the best female turf router in the country and towers over the competition. She already has experience over the course and distance. #9 Mom’s On Strike also has experience over the course and is proven up to 12 furlongs for the formidable combination of Joe Sharp and Adam Bechizza. #6 Daddys Lil Darling fell to the 2nd pick last out, but is a Grade 1 winner at the distance. She’s a cut below these, but an obvious contender to hit the board and must be used in all vertical wagers.

Selections 5-9-6-8


Race 10-2 Miles Turf, 4 & Up, Belmont Turf Cup (Grade 2)

Marathon specialist #4 Funny Kid invades from France with regular rider Maxime Guyon. He won last out in a hand ride over the hilly Longchamp turf at 1 15/16 miles. #1 Call to Mind goes out for Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. The 4-year-old son of Galileo hasn’t won at the distance, but has been facing the best marathoners in Britain. The likely favorite appears to run his best on firmer ground. #8 Postulation appears to be the only speed in the race. If left alone early, he could take them all the way at long odds.

Selections 4-1-8-5


Race 11-1 3/8 Miles Turf, 3YO & Up, Md Sp Wt

#10 Hampton Point goes 2nd out for Jimmy Toner, who isn’t know for winning first out. In his debut at Gulfstream Park, he was wide and trailed throughout while catching a slow pace. He gained moderate ground in the stretch, but it was an obvious educational experience. He has worked every 7 days for the last 5 weeks for Toner who hits at 23% with layoff runners. #8 Steeles Run was 2nd first out at a mile for Todd Pletcher and Javier Castellano. Breeding suggests the added distance won’t be a problem, but might be overbet considering the connections and deep field.  #9 Prompt goes out for trainer Bill Mott and a dam that produced 4 grass winners. He gets the services of top Gulfstream rider, Luis Saez, who has success with Mott though the sample size is limited. The price justifies including him in all exotics.

Selections 10-8-9-5



comments powered by Disqus

Related Pages

Meet Jasen Mangrum

My interest in the Sport of Kings goes back over 25 years with my father taking me with his friends to the old Ak-Sar-Ben Race Course in Omaha, Nebraska. From those early experiences I was able to read the Daily Racing Form before the age of 10. Once The Woodlands opened in Kansas City in 1988, I became totally hooked on the sport studying racing charts after homework and tennis practice.  In recent years, with the explosion of handicapping tournaments, my love for playing the races has risen to a new level. Primarily focused on New York, Chicago and Louisiana racing, I have now been forced to study races far and wide in attempt to find “cap horses” in the tournaments I play.  I have also dabbled in horse ownership within syndicates and on my own.

My fondest memories in racing include Silver Charm’s 1997 Kentucky Derby victory.  Both my father and I selected him, which made for a memorable day.  The best race I’ve seen was Tiznow’s first Breeders Cup Classic win in 2000 when he outdueled Giant’s Causeway down the length of the Churchill Downs stretch. My biggest windfall as a gambler was a pool-scooping Pick 4 win, paying over $6,600 at The Woodlands in 2005.

The point of this blog is to get everyone out there a few winners, but also to go in depth at how I come to the conclusions that I do. I encourage others to post picks they like, too, but please explain how you come to your conclusions. That way everyone can learn a little more about this great game, and add another weapon to their handicapping arsenal. Best of luck.

Best of the Blogs

Top Stories