Picking Europeans in major American turf races has become more difficult in recent times with trainer Chad Brown dominating domestic racing on the lawn.
But Brown didn't enter a filly in Saturday's $750,000 Jockey Club Oaks Invitational at Belmont Park, opening the door for a European invader.
One of them in particular brings good form into this race and leads off the Friday 5 representing my best bets for the weekend.
Belmont Race 9: Jockey Club Oaks Invitational
Three Europeans are present, and two of them will use Lasix: Love So Deep and Wonderment. Right now, Love So Deep is in better form.
In Love So Deep's most-recent start, she finished second in the Prix de Pomone (G2), and it is notable she displayed good tactical speed.
Love So Deep almost put the field away in the stretch run, but Dame Malliot gradually mowed her down from the outside to narrowly win.
Dame Malliot is not a group stakes level horse yet. As a 3-year-old filly with a 4: 3-1-0 record, though, she gives the impression of good one.
Love So Deep had finished 7 ½ lengths behind Dame Malliot three starts ago in the Aphrodite Stakes, which means she is improving and in the best form of her career. She clearly has changed since the beginning of the year.
With that said, this is Love So Deep's ninth 2019 start. But if she is not tired of racing, expect her to secure a close-range stalking position and take over on the turn. Getting the 9-2 morning line odds on this European is more than fair.
Belmont Race 5: Maiden
The experienced runners in this 2-year-old maiden race are not that talented on paper, leaving three options in Democratic Values, Sagamore Mischief and Alpha Sixty Six.
Sagamore Mischief is trained by Timothy Hills, who is 1-for-9 with first-time starters over the past year. While this is son of Into Mischief cost quite a bit at $290,000, it is preferable to watch or use him underneath.
Democratic Values is trained by Chad Brown, while Todd Pletcher conditions Alpha Sixty Six.
Alpha Sixty Six shows the better sprinter pedigree as the grandson of Sensation, who won the 2005 Astarita Stakes (G3) at 6 ½ furlongs. But Democratic Values' two workouts streaming from XBTV are sharp and deserve a view, as he drills in company with an expensive Candy Ride colt named Brazillionaire twice and arguably outworks him both times.
The 6 ½-furlong distance here is the only drawback to Democratic Values, as his bottom-side pedigree does favor routing.
Both of them can win, but Democratic Values gets the nod.
Belmont Race 8: Grand Prix American Jockey Club Invitational
This selection is a case of “taking a shot” on a higher-priced horse less than a sure thing, as there are positive angles to note with Roaming Union.
For one, this colt has been claimed twice in April. When a horse is consistently claimed, it means he or she is healthy.
Now, this is a $300,000 stakes race and not an optional claimer. But look at who Roaming Union finished runner-up to at Saratoga: Hofburg. Hofburg is not the best older horse, but he runs at a higher class than this bunch.
Two races ago, Roaming Union also finished second to a decent horse in Timber Ghost at Belmont.
Roaming Union lacks any races beyond nine furlongs, but with 2012 Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags on top and 2006 Preakness champion Bernardini as the damsire, at least the bloodlines appear fine for longer.
At 15-1, it is worth taking a shot on Roaming Union.
Kentucky Downs Race 7: Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint (G3)
A lot of public attention will fall toward Stormy Liberal, the back-to-back Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint winner. But there is reason to believe the 7-year-old gelding is tailing off his best form, as he lacks a win in four starts this year.
Stormy Liberal did finish second in his season debut in the Joe Hernandez Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita, which is forgivable. But then he ran second again in an allowance race to Eddie Haskell, before running third in the Al Quoz Sprint (G1) over in Dubai. He lost that race by two lengths.
The layoff afterwards did not help either, as he finished a flat third in the Green Flash Handicap (G3) at Del Mar last month, losing by 2 ¾ lengths.
Leinster is one good alternative with a three-race win streak.
But bettors might also consider White Flag, the runner-up horse in this race last year when they ran it at 6 ½ furlongs. This race is six furlongs.
Throw out White Flag's one-mile races and his overall form looks consistent. Later in the year, he won the Aqueduct Turf Sprint Championship over Disco Partner and also returned to finish third in the Highlander Stakes (G1).
White Flag's past experience on this quirky course may give him the edge over Stormy Liberal and Leinster. At 8-1, it is worth finding out.
Downs Race 8: Ladies Turf Stakes (G3)
In this race, the one to consider is Simply Breathless, the third-place filly in the Modesty Handicap (G3) at Arlington Park, two lengths behind Juliet Foxtrot.
Prior to that race, she won the Wilshire Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita and Golden Poppy Stakes at Golden Gate Fields. Before those races, she also competed at various courses over in Europe, which is important.
Simply Breathless' experience in handling different types of European turf courses will help at Kentucky Downs, which offers a unique layout for American runners.
Also, Florent Geroux takes the mount and knows this course well.
With Mitchell Road, Ms Bad Behavior and Storm the Hill all set to show speed, the pace will set up for Simply Breathless fairly well, too.