- Here's my take on the Belmont Stakes and the five other stakes races on the card with some very affordable and quite hittable multi-race wagers.
Race 6 Woody Stephens Stakes, 7 furlongs for 3 YOs
- A compact but fairly talented field here. For me it comes down simply to the horse I believe is the fastest - Eightyfiveinafifty. Take away the Churchill mud and the bizarre Whirlaway Stakes in which his bridle broke and he ran off the track, and he's run two triple-digit Beyer scores. While D'Funnybone is 3-for-3 at the tricky, 7 furlong distance and doesn't need the lead, Eightfiveinafifty may force his hand to go along at a rapid pace - one that he may not be able to keep up with. Derby entrant, Discreetly Mine, is the wild card.
Race 7 Just a Game, 1 mile turf for fillies and mares
- Another compact field with a few stand outs...Speak Easy Gal is the price play at 7-2, if there is such a thing. Castellano, who excels on the turf, will likely play catch-me-if-you-can with a loose lead. Proviso, a two-time Grade I winner and against the boys no less in her last. Must respect. Phola has won three straight in going from allowance to grade three to grade two company with rising Beyers in each, which makes her tough to ignore.
Race 8 True North Handicap, 6 furlongs for older males
- A crowded field that can be pared down to three contenders. Custom for Carlos brings his A-game just about every time and excels at this sprint distance. Strasbourg is an X-factor moving way up to Grade II company coming off a tough allowance loss at a mile. Trainer Albertrani wins at just about 25% second off a mid-layoff and you'll get at least double digit odds for this $450,000 purchase out of champion Friends Lake. Checklist rounds out the top three coming off a triple-digit score and a short rest. He'll either win by 10 lengths or lose by 25.
Race 9 Acorn, 1 mile for 3YO fillies
- Really no standout in this division, so just about everyone is live here, but let me try to narrow it down to a little. Tanda goes from synthetic to dirt and west to east here, but owns the last two highest Beyers. Hollywood strip plays like dirt and trainer Dan Hendricks isn't bringing her all this way for nothing. While Seeking the Title dropped her rider during the Black Eyed Susan Stakes, she should not be faulted for this and Desormeaux comes right back to ride. Streaker from the powerful Phipps Stable has every right to improve off two, single-turn wins at Gulfstream and Belmont and could pass class test with flying colors. Not sure what to do with either Amen Hallelujah or Quiet Temper - both are inconsistent while showing flashes of brilliance. With blinkers on, Indian Burn should be included for deep tickets.
Race 10, Manhattan Handicap, 1 1/4 miles turf for older runners
- Either everyone is in here or everyone is out except for one. I'm going with just the one because 11 entries are just too many to play. Gio Ponti, older turf champion, has yet to score this year, but has run two sneaky good races. He loves Belmont, winning and $3.5 million in the bank is enough for me to single here.
Race 11, Belmont Stakes, 1 1/2 miles for 3YOs
- No Derby or Preakness winners here, so a big evenly-matched field goes forward. I can see a case to be made for every hopeful except Dave in Dixie - overmatched, Stately Victor - overrated and Uptowncharlybrown - poorly breed for such a distance. I've been trying to get it down to less than four choices and if I could only pick one, it would be First Dude. He's the most likely candidate to go coast-to-coast ripping off 24 and change quarters along the way. Fly Down showed a great turn of foot in Dwyer and is most likely to inherit a lead at the top of the lane. Spangled Star has the breeding to get the job done and nothing else. Worth some sort of play at 30-1 or greater. Trying to like Ice Box, Drosslemeyer and Make Music for Me, but at this time will probably include the chalk, Ice Box, just in case.
- Pick 3 (Races 6-9) - a cheap pay looking for $50 plus return: 1-5/1-3-5/2-8 for $8
- Pick 6 - an affordable triple single play 1/1-3/2/2-4-5/1/2-5-6-11 for $48
- Pick 4 (Races 8-11) affordable with big payoff potential 2-4-8/2-4-5-11/1/2-5-11 for $36
Good luck with all your Belmont Day wagers!
Early Scratches Changes to Wagers
- Pick 3 (Races 6-9) 1-5/1-3/3-6-7-8-9 for $20
- Pick 6 1/1-3/6-8/2-4-5/1/5-11 for $48
- Pick 4 (Races 8-11) 3-6-8/2-4-6-8/1/2-5-11 $36