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We are officially four days away from the Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes (G1) on September 28. Today, we have two maiden special weight (MSW) races to preview at Belmont Park. One has a favorite who may put on a show for the ages.
Belmont Meet Statistics (9/6 through 9/22):
Race 1: $62,000 MSW for New York-bred fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and upward going 6 1/2 furlongs on the dirt
#4 J J Jen (8/5) comes from a Mark Hennig barn that has gotten off to a nice start to the fall meet with a pair of winners in 13 starts. This filly showed a lot of early speed last time out in a race that was taken off of the turf. In a short field with no significant speed around her, this spot gives her a great opportunity to be in the winner’s circle for the first time.
Bruce Levine sends #6 Lady Macho (1/1) to the track after coming out of the same race as J J Jen. Jose Ortiz sent her to the front in that one and she sat just off the 85/1 leader Finlee. After an opening 1/4 in :22.48, she found it to hold on late, but against this smaller field, she is a logical choice.
David Donk’s #2 Stunning Beauty (8/1) tries the dirt for the first time as a lightly raced 4-year-old with only two prior starts. Being by Got Stormy, the dirt might be her preferred surface. Got Stormy was a $1.6 million earner, all on the dirt. While Stunning Beauty doesn’t necessarily possess that type of talent, she should enjoy the surface change.
#5 Irish Banker (5/1) makes her way back onto the Belmont Park dirt after only a two-week layoff. She was heavily-favored last time out in a state-bred maiden claiming race and broke sharply, but once Appletini got the lead at the start, it was evident that she wasn’t giving it up. Irish Banker steps back up to run protected with a good chance to hit the board.
Ricky’s Picks: 4-6-2-5
Race 4: $75,000 MSW for 3-year-olds and upward going 6 1/2 furlongs on the dirt
In no way do I see #5 Free Enterprise (1/5) not winning this race. He’s finished second on three separate occasions, all by less than a length. In every instance, he had the lead in the stretch and failed to hold on, but the first two horses to beat him won their next starts. Based on speed figures alone, he looks like as sure of a bet as I’ve seen so far at this meet.
#4 Kid Bourbon (4/1) comes back to the track for the first time since February 23, when he finished third. That race’s runner-up, Where Paradise Lay, won a stakes event in August. Trainer Mark Hennig has won 13% with runners returning from a layoff of at least 180 days. Free Enterprise will be extremely tough to beat, but Kid Bourbon should finish second with ease.
#6 Cobble Hill (15/1) had a lot of buzz as a 2-year-old after being purchased that spring for $370,000, but he couldn’t pull through. Last time out, Windylea Farm claimed him for $50,000, so here is his chance to show what he’s learned from new trainer Bruce Brown. This half-brother to Grade 1 winner Marley’s Freedom should not be left off of any exotics tickets.
#1 Somes Sound (8/1) will face Free Enterprise for the third time in as many career starts. Junior Alvarado got him to break sharply in his debut, but he faded after a :22.02 first 1/4. In his second start, he was taken back right from the start and showed no run. If Alvarado can get him to break sharply, then his best bet is to set a hot pace up front and see how far he can take this short field.
Ricky’s Picks: 5-4-6-1
Good luck to everyone playing and be sure to follow me on Twitter @RickyP_15 for more NYRA race previews as we take a look at Belmont Park!
If you want further information on the other races for each card at Belmont Park and beyond, you can check the Racing Dudes’ Free Picks page or subscribe to their Premium Selections and get detailed analyses for every race, every card, every track around the country.
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