Weekend Watch: Belmont Stakes day previews, handicapping

June 08, 2019 05:10pm

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 focusing on Belmont Stakes day races.

Race 3: 12:47 p.m.

gets a cutback in distance and class in the Easy Goer Stakes. The Stay Thirsty colt finished 11th in the Preakness in his last start, but prior to that, he was on a six-race tear. Javier Castellano picks up the mount for trainer Kelly Rubley, and the duo will exit the outside post in the field of six. He will face off with close second choice Outshine, who was second in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) behind Belmont favorite Tacitus before finishing 10th in the Wood Memorial (G2) won by that same rival. Newcomer Majid enters off a three-race win streak and could certainly surprise here if the better-known top two don’t run their races.

Race 4: 1:22 p.m.

Rushing Fall
appears to be a lock in the Grade 1 Just a Game Stakes. The 4-year old daughter of More Than Ready won her 2019 debut, going gate-to-wire in the Jenny Wiley (G1), and looks well on her way to earning some well deserved hardware at the end of the year. If you’re looking to upset the favorite, Beau Recall has been in very good form so far this year, going 3: 2-1-0 in 2019. She most recently closed from off the pace to annex the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (G2). Daddy Is a Legend knocked the rust off in that same race, finishing a close third to Beau Recall. Got Stormy is another that could potentially upset the heavy favorite, but she’s had yet to beat any of the aforementioned trio.

Race 5: 2:01 p.m.

Even money Grade 1
Ogden Phipps favorite Midnight Bisou will get a new rival in Come Dancing. Both ladies are perfect in 2019, Midnight Bisou racking up three victories to Come Dancing’s two. The former likes to be up on the lead and will give the latter a target at which to run. Escape Clause nearly nailed Midnight Bisou in the Apple Blossom (G1) in that pair’s last meeting and has been a strong runner for trainer Don Schnell. Midnight Bisou has the class and perhaps the pace to run at here, but Come Dancing is looking strong. Either of those two could receive consideration as a single in multi-race wagers.

Race 6: 2:41 p.m.

World of Trouble
 has the same single potential when he exits post eight in the Grade 1 Jaipur Invitational. The 4-year old colt in on a four race win streak, and if not for a close loss in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1), that streak would stand at seven. Trained by Jason Servis, this colt is versatile, with huge wins on turf and dirt. His main competition will come from 7-year old Disco Partner. This Christophe Clement trainee likes both the distance and the track at Belmont having won this race two years running. Belvoir Bay could certainly upset the apple cart. The 6-year old mare enters this spot off two straight second place finishes, one in the Al Quoz Sprint (G1) in Dubai. She can win on dirt or turf and has shown that she can hang with the big boys. Once upon a time, Undrafted was a top turf sprinter, but he has not shown that same form in the last couple of years. At this point, if he beats me, he beats me and I’ll be happy for him as he has been a favorite of mine for years.

Race 7: 3:22 p.m.

Serengeti Empress
rebounded nicely from his dismal Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) run to take the Kentucky Oaks in an upset. Despite beating the best of her crop, she will not go favored, as that honor has been given to maiden winner Guarana, at least on the morning line. The Ghostzapper filly, trained by Chad Brown, was the romping winner of a 6 ½-furlong maiden race in the slop at Keeneland. Fancy Dress Party enters the Grade 1 Acorn Stakes undefeated in four starts, but this will be a class test and a stretch out for the daughter of Munnings. Cookie Dough has been in good, though not great, form and goes first time for new trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. She could fill out the exotics, but I do not see her winning.

Belmont, Race 8: 4:04 p.m.

Mind Control
is favored on the morning line in the Grade 1 Woody Stephens Stakes, but I like the returning Complexity. Trained by Chad Brown, the Maclean’s Music colt has not faced the starter since putting in a disappointing effort in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. The speedy colt drew post four and will be one of a handful vying for the lead. I’m also taking a hard look at Hog Creek Hustle, who is cutting back in distance and contended on the Triple Crown trail. I think the Vickie Foley trainee looked much improved on Derby day in the Pat Day Mile (G3). Much Better and Honest Mischief are another two I’m taking a look at to beat the favorite. The former will appreciate a drier track while the latter is out of a half-sister to 2003 Belmont winner Empire Maker.

Race 9: 4:46 p.m.

The Grade 1
Metropolitan Handicap is the strongest race of the day, making it a dream for bettors. With the amount of talent in this field, there is no heavy favorite, though morning line favoritism goes to grade one winner McKinzie. The 4-year old enters off a victory in the Alysheba (G2) and will break from post two. Godolphin Mile (G2) winner Coal Front will break from the rail to McKinzie’s inside and is riding a three race win streak. To his outside are Mitole and Thunder Snow, in the three and four posts respectively. Mitole has not lost a race in over a year while Thunder Snow is making his first start since a narrow victory in this year’s Dubai World Cup (G1). While being competitive here, Thunder Snow has yet to win a race in the U.S. He may not be a win play, but I would definitely use him underneath in exotics. Firenze Fire would be a good value bet and is my top pick. Now 4, he is undefeated at Belmont and 3-for-5 at the mile distance.

Belmont, Race 10: 5:36 p.m.

Bricks and Mortar
looms large in the Grade 1 Manhattan Stakes. The 5-year old son of Giant’s Causeway is riding a four race win streak, but he’s never been asked to race the Manhattan distance of 1 ¼ miles. Channel Maker, on the other hand, is a pro at the longer distances and is exiting a victory here at Belmont in the Man o’ War (G1). He has never been on the board at 10 furlongs, but he could certainly break that streak here. Chad Brown will send out three stablemates to face Bricks and Mortar. Raging Bull won the Hollywood Derby (G1) to complete his 2018 campaign but has yet to hit the board in 2019. Robert Bruce is your reigning Arlington Million (G1) winner but has not won since. However, he got a race under his belt last month and should be primed for a good effort. Olympico completes the Brown quartet and won his U.S. debut. If any were to upset Bricks and Mortar, I see it being Channel Maker or Olympico.

Race 11: 6:37 p.m.

For me, the Grade 1
Belmont Stakes comes down to two horses: Preakness winner War of Will and Wood Memorial (G2) winner Tacitus. War of Will lost all chance in both the Louisiana Derby (G2) and the Kentucky Derby but rebounded smartly with a rail-riding trip in the Preakness. Tactitus ended up third in the Kentucky Derby after the disqualification of Maximum Security and carries the pedigree to appreciate the Belmont distance. The top choices drew posts nine and 10, respectively. If I had to pick against that duo, I would go with Intrepid Heart, who is a half-brother to 2014 Belmont runner-up Commissioner.

Race 13: 8:00 p.m.

If anyone deserves a win right now, it’s
War Story. The 7-year old gelding is a juicy 5-1 on the morning line for the Grade 2 Brooklyn Invitational. He’s only been off the board at Belmont once and is 3: 1-2-0 at the marathon distance of 1 ½ miles. He most recently finished third in the Charles Town Classic (G2) and should be ready to fire his best here. You’re to Blame is the tepid 3-1 favorite on the morning line. This son of Distorted Humor likes the Belmont track and a route of ground. He most recently finished a close second in the 10-furlong Pimlico Special (G3) and looked like a winner if he would have had more ground. Marconi comes in with a two race win streak. A half-brother to Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Mucho Macho Man, Marconi should do well with the distance. Campaign enters off a win at this distance out at Santa Anita, and Rocketry has run second to Marconi in his last two outings, making him a good play underneath though not necessarily a winner.


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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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