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Saturday’s card lived up to the billing, as we saw some of the best turf runners in the country right here at Belmont Park! On Sunday, the Allied Forces Stakes is back for the fifth time. Last year, World of Trouble romped to win with ease. Aside from that, we have three maiden special weight (MSW) races to preview!
Saratoga Meet Statistics (Final):
Belmont Meet Statistics (9/6 through 9/7):
Race 1: $62,000 MSW for New York-bred 3-year-olds and upward going 6 furlongs on the outer turf
Jose Lezacano rode #2 Worth a Shot (8/5) well the last time that we saw this horse, which was here at Belmont Park on June 29. Lezcano took the lead for a brief moment, lost it, but then re-rallied and almost caught Uncle Curly in the final furlong. Linda Rice is known for having her horses bounce back after their first career starts, so even though he did race once last year (in an off-the-turf event), expect Lezcano to go right to the front and slow down the pace as much as possible. He’s also the full brother to the Grade 1-winning Voodoo Song.
Charlie Baker sends his 3-year-old #1 The Joke’s On You (3/1) to the turf for the first time, which might be what he was bred to do best. One thing to note is that Jose Lezacno rode this horse his first two times out but is riding the top selection here, so Junior Alvarado gets his chance aboard. Alvarado and Baker are winning at 31% together and will look to improve on that stat here.
#3 Qian B C (2/1) has had several chances to win but has yet to break through. Regular rider Joel Rosario is best known for bringing his horses from the back of the pack, a style that matches well with this horse’s tendencies.
#5 Hudson Overpass (8/1) continues to improve in every start and makes the jump from the maiden claiming ranks here. Back aboard is the underrated Luis Reyes, who is more than capable of winning. In Hudson Overpass’ last start, he sat just off the lead while the first 1/4-mile went in :22.00. This 6-furlong distance should allow him to sit off of the pace and try to catch the front-runners in the stretch.
Ricky’s Picks: 2-1-3-5
Race 5: $62,000 MSW for New York-bred 2-year-olds going 1 mile on the outer turf
#10 Maxwell Esquire (5/2) ran a game second when kicking off his career on August 16 at Saratoga. He was forced five-wide around the far turn but still closed nicely to grab second. Christophe Clement is one of the best turf trainers on the NYRA circuit, and getting the far outside post should only help Maxwell Esquire settle into the race. It helps that he has multiple turf-winning older siblings, too.
#2 Brilliant Rooks (4/1) didn’t quite fire how Jeremiah Englehart had envisioned in his debut over a fast Saratoga main track on August 8. Here, he tries the turf for the first time while looking for different results. By Candy Ride, he has the pedigree needed to handle the one-turn mile distance. After watching his debut, this surface switch should help him improve drastically.
Chad Brown sends #9 Portfolio Hedge (3/1) out to the track after scratching twice. He has worked well on the turf, and the trio of Klaravich Stables, Javier Castellano, and Brown is always dangerous. Interestingly, both scratched entries were for 5 1/2-furlong sprints, but now Brown has him entered for a mile.
Dylan Davis is back aboard #7 Turbo Drive (9/2), who got the opportunity to make his turf debut last month at Saratoga after his previous two attempts were rained off. He comes out of the same race as Maxwell Esquire, where he was close to the lead but couldn’t find enough in the stretch to keep progressing forward. Expect Davis to use the same tactics and try to go gate to wire.
Ricky’s Picks: 10-2-9-7
Race 7: $75,000 MSW for 2-year-old fillies going 1 mile on the dirt
#1 Abilene Trail (8/5) made her debut over a fast Saratoga main track on August 18, where she broke away swiftly and maintained her position throughout. Luis Saez did his best to save something left in the tank for the final furlong, but she ultimately fell off. Todd Pletcher does well with horses stretching out in their second starts (34%), and as a daughter of Curlin, she should enjoy the extended distance.
#6 Maedean (9/2) comes into this race looking to score first time out for Mark Hennig and Courtlandt Farms. Purchased for $450,000 as a yearling, this 2-year-old filly comes with heavy expectations. After being scratched on August 30 as an Also Eligible, she’ll get the chance to live up to the hype. Her dam, Summer Solo, was third in the 2014 Belmont Oaks (G1).
Bill Mott debuted #3 Lucky Dime (5/2) over the Saratoga main track while going 7 furlongs back on August 4. She ran into the talented filly Daphne Moon and had the look of a horse who needed some experience. A filly who doesn’t present a ton of early speed, she should enjoy the extra furlong, and Junior Alvarado can sit her off of the pace and strike in the stretch.
Jimmy Jerkins brings #7 Striking Beauty (5/1) back to the track after coming out of the same race as Abilene Trail. That day’s 6 1/2 furlongs looked to be too short of a distance for this Curlin daughter who never found her best footing. Jerkins excels at 29% when his horses stretch out over the dirt surface.
Ricky’s Picks: 1-6-3-7
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 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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