The Belmont Stakes (G1) is just a few days away, but first, we need to build up our bankroll. Thursday’s Early Pick 5 at Belmont Park is highlighted by a single in race 2 before some wide-open races later in the sequence.

Best of luck!

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Race 1: Maiden Special Weight for fillies and mares 3-year-olds and upward going 1 1/16 miles (8 1/2 furlongs) on the dirt

The opening leg of the sequence is tricky, to say the least. #5 Yellow Brick Road here last October, finishing eighth behind second-place runner Lake Avenue, the Demoiselle Stakes (G2) winner and a Kentucky Oaks (G1) contender. Yellow Brick Road makes her first since and trainer John Kimmel wins 14% off of these types of layoffs. Anything close to 6/1 at post time makes her a great value play. Other runners I am using are #1 Sneer, #3 Love On the Run, #4 Thankful, and #6 So Darn Hot.

Race 2: $16k Claiming for 3-year-olds and upward going 1 mile (8 furlongs) on the dirt

Michael Dubb and Bethlehem Stables’ #5 Invest will be the post-time favorite because heโ€™s faced better and has good gate speed. His lone win came over this course and he has finished in the money in seven of nine attempts. Also, new trainer Brad Coxโ€™s barn has been on fire with 5 wins from 9 starts to start the meet.

Race 3: Maiden Special Weight for New York-bred 2-year-old fillies going 5 furlongs on the dirt

Multiple runners by my favorite sire Into Mischief are in this field, and one of them – #6 Make Mischief – is my top choice. She is the lone runner in this group of eight with a six-figure price tag ($285k) and runs for strong connections (Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse and owner Gary Barber). Other runners I am using areย #3 Jillโ€™s a Hot Mess, #4 Pleasure Luck, and #5 Going Going Gone, #8 Dorothy’s Star

Race 4: $12.5k Claiming for 3-year-olds and upward going 1 1/16 miles (8 1/2 furlongs) on the dirt

#1 Chief Know It All has won 8 of 26 starts, including four straight – all at different tracks. He won last time out at this level by 7 lengths and is a must-use. The other standout is #8 Mills, and though it will take a massive effort to beat Chief Know It All, if the speed falls apart, Mills should be there to pick up the pieces. Heโ€™s a 10-year-old gelding making his 70th career start and is the most logical choice if Chief Know It All falters.

Race 5: $35k Claiming for 3-year-olds and upward going 7 furlongs on the outer turf

The theme of difficult races continues; I had to go five-deep in the final leg. #9 Shiraz is the horse to beat and the most talented runner in the field. He makes his first start of the year and his first in over six months, but he was facing better than what he sees here. Other runners I am using are #1A Bad Guy, #2 Impazible Odds, #4 Septimius Severus, and #6 Cabinet Pik.

THE TICKET

$.50 PICK 5 (Races 1-5) 1,3,4,5,6 / 5 / 3,4,5,6,8 / 1,8 / 1A,2,4,6,9 – $125