Horak: How I'm betting Belmont's Carter Handicap

Horak: How I'm betting Belmont's Carter Handicap
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire

Belmont Park’s stakes schedule is back in full swing Saturday, and the highlight of the day is the Carter Handicap (G1) for older dirt sprinters. Performer is the tepid favorite for trainer Shug McGaughey, and his running style versatility should play well in a race without a ton of early pace. He is one of six graded winners in the highly competitive lineup.

Before deciding how to bet Saturday’s ninth race from Belmont Park, let’s meet the entire cast.   

Favorite

#2 Performer (3-1) made nice progress throughout his sophomore campaign and ended 2019 on a high note in the Discovery (G3) at a mile and an eighth. His lone loss in five starts was a show finish on a good track in his career debut. He runs well fresh and captured both of his previous local starts.

Value Win Contenders

#10 Mind Control (4-1) has been a quality extended sprinter since 2018. The versatile colt has won three straight graded sprints, and he usually runs his race under John Velazquez. I typically prefer horses with early-pressing speed breaking from outer posts when going seven panels, and he looks like a solid threat. 

#11 Vekoma (7-2) returned with an encouraging victory in the Sir Shackleton Stakes at this distance on March 28. The lightly raced colt graduated in his career debut at Belmont Park, and I like his tactical speed and outside draw. 

Live Longshots

#5 Network Effect (8-1) has always been pretty good in these long sprints around one turn. He is sharp and versatile for Chad Brown, and he earned a quality speed figure in a Florida-bred stakes victory under Irad Ortiz Jr. at this distance on May 2. He hit the board in two of his three graded attempts and will probably save ground stalking the pace. 

#7 American Anthem (15-1) has back class and does some of his best work at seven furlongs. I like his early-pressing speed but am not sure if he is good enough to win a race like this anymore.

Remaining Entrants

#1 Firenze Fire (7-2) moves to the Kelly Breen shedrow, and the classy sort has always liked this oval. He will probably save ground stalking the pace, and the sharp, fresh 5-year-old horse is seeking his fourth straight stakes victory.

#3 Still Having Fun (20-1) occasionally runs a big race in the stakes ranks. A minor award is not impossible, but a win would be a surprise.  

#4 Nitrous (15-1) is a decent late-running sprinter who almost upset the apple cart in the Woody Stephens (G1) at this course and distance last year. He has dropped five straight and a minor placing is probably his limit. 

#6 Midnightcharly (50-1) is pretty good in Pennsylvania allowance and stakes races but is probably outclassed in this spot. He is 2-for-2 at seven panels. 

#8 Bon Raison (30-1) likes Belmont Park but is probably in a bit over his head in this salty Grade 1 spot. 

#9 Majestic Dunhill (20-1) is a quality late runner with plenty of experience at this distance. There is probably not enough pace to flatter his late kick.

Wagers

#10 to win

exacta 10-11/5-10-11

trifecta 1-2-10-11/1-2-10-11/5-7

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