Belmont Stakes Racing Festival expert picks for Friday's races

June 04, 2018 11:33pm
Bobby Abu Dhabi wins 2018 Kona Gold
Photo: Benoit Photo

The highly anticipated Belmont Stakes Racing Festival continues Friday with five stakes on the docket -- four of them graded. Let's see about building a bankroll into a major weekend capped by Justify's try at Triple Crown history.

Race 3: Grade 3 Bed o’ Roses (7F)

: Three of these are cross-entered in Saturday’s G1 Ogden Phipps (#1 Ivy Bell, #2 American Gal, #8 Highway Star), so the complexion of this race could change dramatically. Also, according to DRF, #3 Chalon and #4 Union Strike are expected to scratch. #2 American Gal (9-5) had every tactical advantage vs. some of these in the G1 Humana Distaff on a wet track at Churchill Downs on May 5. She is a solid threat again, but she draws an inner post with speed to her outside this time, and I think #6 Lewis Bay (4-1) can turn the tables. The latter is 4: 2-2-0 at Belmont, and the versatile mare might be set for her best 3rd off the shelf. The last time she raced here, she aired by 5+ lengths in the G3 Turnback The Alarm. #5 Divine Miss Grey (9-2) is a sharp early/pressing type with a nose for the wire. The 2-time extended sprint winner likes this oval (4 3-1-0). This is her toughest career assignment.

Wagers: #6 to win, Exacta 6/2-5, Exacta 2-5/6 

Race 5: Tremont Stakes (5.5F)

: $625,000 purchase #4 Outshine (7-2) rallied for a sharp debut score as the chalk in the local slop May 17. He could easily score again for Johnny V./Todd Pletcher. #7 Mae Never No (9-5) ran down front runner Abyssinian (9 lengths clear of 3rd) in a nice local 5-furlong maiden score May 3, and the aforementioned runner-up returned to romp in the local slop as the heavy favorite May 19. #2 Sombeyay (6-1) romped in his 4.5-furlong debut at GP April 27, and show finisher Big Bud returned to win a $50,000 maiden claimer at that same venue May 18. #6 Sir Truebadour (2-1) earned the top Pace Rating in a front running win from the inside post in the Churchill Downs slop May 17. I have seen many wire job wet track winners flop in subsequent fast track starts. 

Wagers: #4 to win, Exacta Box 4-7, Trifecta 4-7/2-4-6-7/2-4-6-7 

Race 8: Grade 2 True North (6.5F)

 #4 Bobby Abu Dhabi (5-2) is definitely showing maturing this year. In the past, he never ran two alike and needed time between starts. After ending 2017 on a high note with a Dec. 31 triumph, he returned with a clear 2nd to City of Light in the G1 Triple Bend March 10, and was last seen winning the G2 Kona Gold April 21. He runs well fresh, drilled a gate bullet for this May 29, and is 3-for-3 at this distance. #6 Westwood (6-1) gamely won the Runhappy at 6f last time, and I think that trip is a bit sharp for him. He is 3-for-3 at this distance and should be forwardly placed under Johnny V. #3 Imperial Hint (9-2) is fast enough to win this on his best day and figures in the thick of things throughout under Castellano. #8 Whitmore (6-1) is 9-for-15 on a fast track and will try to get involved late. He was a distant 3rd as the chalk in this event last year, and he was sharper and faster at that time. #5 Limousine Liberal (7-2) won five of his last ten starts, but all five of those victories were at CD. He is cross-entered in the G1 Met Mile on June 9. 

Wagers: #4 to win, Exacta 4/3-6, Exacta 3-6/4, Trifecta Key 4/3-5-6-8 

Race 9: Grade 2 New York (10FT)

 #5 Sistercharlie (9-5) is just getting warmed up at 8.5f, and that makes her G1 Jenny Wiley win look even better. She could easily run past these for Johnny V./Chad Brown. #8 Fourstar Crook (7-2) is a gem of consistency for Brown, and the 6-year-old mare is 5-for-6 at Belmont. The late runner reconnects with winning rider Ortiz Jr. #6 Daddys Lil Darling (4-1) found a mile and a half a bit out of her comfort zone in the G3 Bewitch last time. She won the G1 American Oaks at this distance last year. #7 Esquisse (20-1) is bred for the long game on turf, and Prat is an excellent grass rider. She might improve at this trip in her third U.S. start for Motion. #2 Holy Helena (6-1) has a nose for the wire and her Late Pace Ratings continue to climb. This is her toughest test to date. #9 Mom’s On Strike (5-1) ran past Daddy’s Lil Darling at 12 furlongs last time, and that was her fifth win in her last six starts. The sharp mare should be finishing.  

Wagers: Exacta 5/2-7, Trifecta Key 5/2-6-7-8-9 

Race 10: Grade 2 Belmont Gold Cup (16FT)

: #5 Canessar (6-1) had endless stamina in France, and he won the Laurel Turf Cup under today’s rider Lynch at a mile and a half in his U.S. bow last September. He was 3rd and 6th (no pace help in G2 Elkhorn) in his last two graded turf starts at 12 furlongs, and this longer trip helps his cause. #1 Call To Mind (7-2) might be rounding back to top form 3rd off the shelf after an improved show finish May 18. Last year, he won a handicap at a mile and three-quarters, and was beaten a neck in a group two at a mile and seven-eighths. Castellano takes the call. #4 Funny Kid (5-1) is sharp and consistent. He could run all day in France and Great Britain. #6 Nessy (5-2) exits a smart win in the G3 San Juan Capistrano, but these are better, and he was hardly a win machine prior to his last. Long winded types #9 Focus Group (10-1), #8 Postulation (10-1), and #7 Run Time (15-1) are not out of this.   

Wagers: #5 to win, Exacta 5/1-4, Exacta 1-4/5, Superfecta 1-4/1-4-5/1-4-5-6/1-4-5-6-7-8-9


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