I talked yesterday about all of the great racing that we had to look forward to at Parx and Belmont Park. The Pennsylvania Derby and the Cotillion Stakes provided some of the best excitement that we have seen in all of 2019. Today’s Belmont card includes: the Gallant Bloom Handicap, the Ashley T. Cole Stakes, and the John Hettinger Stakes. Come Dancing returns to the track after winning the Grade I Ballerina Stakes at Saratoga. As always, there are two maiden special weight (MSW) races to preview as we end the weekend on a high note.
Belmont Meet Statistics (9/6 through 9/20):
|Races||Top 4 Wins||Top 4 Exactas||Top 4 Trifectas||Top 4 Supers|
Race 4: $75,000 MSW for fillies and mares 3-year-olds and upward going 6 furlongs on the inner turf
#8 Smack makes her way back to New York after not running in over nine months. Christophe Clement has had a lot of work with this filly who showed a lot of promise in her debut over a year ago. She lost to Cambier Parc who just won the Grade I Del Mar Oaks just over a month ago. Clement is also winning at 41% with his runners cutting back in distance. At 4/1 or 5-1 I like this filly a lot.
#7 Tan and Tight has had her chances to be in the winners’ circle but she finds herself still in the maiden special weight ranks. She is extremely talented coming out of the Chad Brown barn but just needs that final 1/2 furlong. She gets that today and that should make all the difference in the world as this filly looks to move on to bigger and better.
Todd Pletcher brings #4 Erin More into this spot coming out of the same race that Tan and Tight came out of. She broke away very well but a lack of experience and a :21.85 first quarter led to her demise. There is some speed to her outside, but Jose Ortiz shouldn’t have an issue sitting a couple of lengths off the pace and look to pass horses in the stretch.
Dermot Magner has a filly by Point of Entry who had no business on the dirt last time out. #5 Bye Bye Nicky did zero running in her dirt debut deserves to be thrown out completely. She has three seconds in five career races on the turf and gets her chance to be on her preferred surface. She has a lot of early speed and if no one challenges her up front, she will run away with ease.
Ricky’s Picks: 8-7-4-5
Race 6: $62,000 MSW for New-York-bred fillies going 7 furlongs on the dirt
Jason Servis comes into this race winning at 36% at the meet and has been in the money at 64%. #7 Firenze Freedom ran at Monmouth Park in her debut going 5 1/2 furlongs. Monmouth Park is one of the quickest tracks in the country. Once she broke toward the back of the pack, she didn’t have much of a chance. The second and third place finishers My Gift from Above and Cofactor went on to win at this level next time out.
#4 Never Heard of Her should get a fast dirt track for the first time in her career after a sloppy dirt track, and a race that was taken off the turf. In her debut, she was 8-wide at the top of the lane but didn’t have enough to finish late. Naked Avenger who won in her debut, came back and won the Joseph A. Gimma Stakes on September 18.
#5 Playtone ran against Risky Mischief last time out and was absolutely romped. However, she didn’t lose too much ground at the top of the lane and still held on for second. She comes into this race off the trainer switch from Eddie Kenneally to George Weaver. Manny Franco is a very aggressive rider and I expect Manny to take her to the front and let her go.
The last race that #1 Funnypointofview came out of had two runners that were much better than this field. Thea’s Theme also ran in the Joseph A Gimma Stakes and Critical Value won as an even money favorite in her next start by multiple lengths. This 7-furlong distance is one that is difficult to manage. She isn’t very quick out of the blocks, so I expect Jose Ortiz to rate her and hope horses do damage to themselves up front.
Ricky’s Picks: 7-4-5-1