Leg 4 - The Belmont Stakes
Instead going with a chalky closer - Mine That Bird or a second choice closer in Dunkirk, I'd recommend going with a horse that will be able to click off 24 to 25 second quarters for 10 furlongs. Remember Birdstone blowing by Triple Crown hopeful Smarty Jones? It wasn't a case of Birdstone accelerating, as it was Smarty Jones getting leg weary to the winner grinding out consistent speed throughout the race. (Smarty Jones went through his final quarter 27 seconds.)
The mostly candidates for this would be:
- Charitable Man - big on talent, short on experience; two-time stakes winner at Big Sandy
- Miner's Escape - five-time maiden suddenly two-for-two; big improvements happening and if you discount Nick Zito in this race, you do so at your own expense
- Mine That Bird - in case Borel is right
Leg 3 - The Manhattan Stakes
You could easily land on any one of eight horses here and get no argument from me. But this is horse racing and each handicapper's opinion counts, so...
- Gio Ponti - likes to win including at the 1 1/4 mile distance; fired big in his second race as a four-year-old and could be a monster this year
- Conmonaut - surprisingly there's a lot of speed in this race and all of it breaks outside of Cosmonaut, whose rider has the opportunity to either force the issue or find a good spot along the rail waiting to make his move
- Champs Elysees, Wesley and Cowboy Cal - I may include one of these three as a back up with such a big field going forward.
Leg 2 - The Acorn Stakes
The big question here, Is Justwhisstledixie a bet against at a short price or a single. Here are my choices:
- Justwhistledixie - a potential single with speed, power and record that over matches these
- Four Gifts - the most likely candidate to upset the chalk, which guarantees a bigger Pick 4 payout
- Funny Moon - a bomb with potential since the Beyers have jumped up with each victory
Leg 1 - The Woody Stephens Stakes
Another race that comes down to three betting choices for me. The Stephens usually brings together horses that tried stretching out for the Derby, but have snapped back to reality at shorter distances.
- Regal Ransom/Everyday Heroes - both have shown great speed from day one, so it will be interesting to see which of the two tries to strike the front.
- This Ones for Phil - ran a courageous race in Swale and then stretched out a little too far in Withers; main threat to top pair.
- Munnings - saw and bet against him in Saratoga maiden win; looked impressive and could improve off three-year-old bow
My cheap Pick 4 play with be one of the two following tickets:
1/4-8-9/5-6-9-12/6-9 for $24 or 1-2-4/8/5-6-12/6-7-9 for $27