Weekend Watch: Friday Belmont Stakes Festival previews, plays

June 06, 2019 01:19pm

Each weekend, Horse Racing Nation previews the top races to tune into coast to coast and runs down the main contenders. All times are Eastern, with this edition a handicapping-focused look at Friday's Belmont Stakes Festival card.

Race 5: 2:58 p.m.

had the opportunity to knock the rust off last month in the Vagrancy (G3), in which she finished third, beaten for it all by just 2 1/2 lengths. She should go heavily favored from her outside post for trainer Chad Brown and jockey Jose Ortiz in the Grade 3 Bed o’ Roses Invitational. I expect that Chalon, who won Pimlico's Skipat in her last start, will be the most likely pacesetter, but without a true speedster in here, it’s possible Ortiz could send Separationofpowers early. Chalon has the class to make the favorite work for it, and Pacific Gale and Dawn the Destroyer have both been in good form this year. It’s not a big field, so those four should comprise your superfecta for the seven furlong event.

Race 7: 4:09 p.m.

Undefeated stakes winner
Rookie Salsa will get another class test in the Tremont Stakes. The Two Step Salsa colt broke his maiden at Laurel before taking the Kentucky Juvenile at Churchill. The Jeremiah O’Dwyer trainee drew the outside post in the field of eight, which works out perfectly for him considering he likes to press the pace. Doug O’Neill’s Fore Left went gate-to-wire in his debut, and Steve Asmussen’s Memorable was also right on the pace in his race. At 5 1/2 furlongs, the Tremont isn’t much longer than these colts have previously gone. Fore Left has the highest Equibase speed figure in the field, but no one towers over the rest here.

Race 8: 4:42 p.m.

Recruiting Ready will square off with Whitmore in the Grade 2 True North Stakes. Recruiting Ready will have legitimate company on the pace from Catalina Cruiser, who has just one loss in five starts when defeated in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. I’m finding it quite difficult to look past the top three, but in the interest of making money, I have to take a second look at Westchester (G3) winner Nicodemus. The 4-year old colt is cutting back in distance from a mile but has been a bit hit or miss this year. However, if the track comes up wet, this is your guy. Another I would take to beat the favorites is Strike Power. He began his career strong but could never follow up on his Swale (G3) win last year. After receiving some time off to diagnose a breathing issue, the Mark Hennig trainee came back and wired an optional claiming field at Gulfstream last month. If that’s any indication, it would seem the Speightstown colt can return to his previous peak. I imagine he will be up on the pace with Recruiting Ready and Catalina Cruiser, along with one or two others, so this could set up nicely for Whitmore.

Race 9: 5:15 p.m.

Here, Chad Brown will be saddling the favorites in yet another graded turf stakes. Beaugay (G3) 1-2 finishers
Homerique and Competitionofideas should be the top two selections in the Grade 2 New York Stakes. Both fillies were making their 2019 debut in the Beaugay and will be chasing the pace in the New York, likely to be set by Giant Zinger. Semper Sententiae is proficient at the New York distance of 1 1/4-miles and certainly has the class to be competitive here. Holy Helena should certainly not be ignored here. Her 2019 debut left a lot to be desired, but she rebounded nicely in the The Very One (G3), beating both Semper Sententiae and Ichymasho, who has won two stakes since. With Giant Zinger being the lone speed, you would think she could walk the dog on the front end, but she has shown that she fades in the stretch. Good for using underneath in exotics but definitely not a winner.

Race 10: 5:48 p.m.

The two mile, Grade 2
Belmont Gold Cup Invitational is about as unique as they come in the United States. Most domestic runners will never attempt this distance, and those that do only go it a few times in their careers. So I have to go with foreign invader Amade (IRE) as my top selection. The 5-year-old gelding is 3: 2-1-0 at the distance and will hopefully do well with a firmer surface than what he generally catches across the pond. As far as local runners are concerned, Donegal Racing’s Arklow is probably your best bet. He is untested at two miles but has proved fairly long-winded in the past. I’m also looking at Red Knight, who already has a win going two miles, a victory he nabbed just this past December. Canessar was second in this event last year and could certainly go the distance.

My Play

For Friday’s card, I’m focusing on the Pick 3 sequence encompassing races eight through ten.

$0.50 play: 3, 6, 7/ 1, 6, 8/ 3, 4, 6, 9 = $18


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Meet Ashley Tamulonis

Despite growing up in a non-horse racing state, Ashley has been a fan of the sport since a young age. Her love for horse racing was fostered through the kids’ book series Thoroughbred by Joanna Campbell, which led her to educate herself on the ins and outs of the sport. Since becoming actively involved in the industry just a few years ago, Ashley has had the opportunity to meet many important players in the industry, attend the Eclipse Awards, see personal favorite Mucho Macho Man race twice in person, and befriend many of the fantastic fans and horsemen involved in the sport.

Ashley began her time with Horse Racing Nation covering racing in South Florida but also blogged about nationwide racing, industry issues and, from time to time, offered her opinion on how various changes could be beneficial to the industry. A move North to New Hampshire began both a new chapter in both Ashley's personal life and professional life. She currently pens the From Coast to Coast blog for HRN. Ashley also participates as a voter in the NTRA Top Thoroughbred Polls.

An alumni of Macon State College, Ashley is from Central Georgia but is currently living in New Hampshire with her husband, Chris, and their two sons Charlie and Michael. A stay-at-home mom, Ashley juggles parenting with blogging and her other passions. Aside from horse racing, Ashley is a fervent football fan, enjoys reading and studying history, and hopes to someday author a historical work covering the Tudor period as well as biographies of horse racing’s stars, equine and human alike.

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