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Getting the opportunity to see horses run around the Belmont Park track on Wednesday was beautiful to watch. Rushing Fall was spectacular in the Beaugay Stakes (G3), and Opening Day couldn’t have gone any better for me, either, as yesterday’s picks cashed twice due to a scratch.
Thursday’s feature has Sadler’s Joy and Channel Maker battling in the Tiller Stakes, and the last leg of the card’s Early Pick 5 sequence is a solid allowance field that could be a great ending for my birthday.
Best of luck!
Race 1: $16k Claiming for fillies and mares 3-year-olds and upward going 1 mile (8 furlongs) on the dirt
#1 Be Magic romped by over 12 lengths last time out at the $25k maiden claiming level and returns after a lengthy layoff as she takes the next logical step. She has a very good chance to be the post-time favorite. #2 First Dawn has been tried and tested at this level before, and this group is much easier than what she faced previously. She’s a logical choice if the other runners facing winners for the first time don’t take a step forward. Similarly to Be Magic, #4 Desbordes also romped in her most recent effort, though “only” by 11 1/2 lengths. Her career best came while stretching out to a mile for the first time and is trending upward for trainer George Weaver, who has won 26% of his starts this year.
Race 2: $30k Maiden Claiming for New York-bred 3-year-olds and upward going 6 furlongs on the dirt
#5 Brian’s Last Song showed speed out of the gate in his last start and nearly won, then was claimed for $25k. His effort in his last start is good enough to beat this group and the talented Jose Lezcano keeps the ride through the barn change. #8 Adios Amigos‘s best performance came in an off-turf race sprint at this distance at the $40k maiden claiming level. He drops back down after three turf sprints against maiden special weight company. If #14 J’s Warrior sits up front early like he showed at Churchill Downs last time out, then he can get away from this group in a hurry. Owner/trainer Chad Summers has won 18% with maiden claiming starters.
Race 3: $25k Claiming for New York-bred 3-year-olds and upward going 6 furlongs on the dirt
#1 Bronx Bomber has looked much better as a 4-year-old while running against allowance/optional claiming runners and is swift out of the gate. I prefer him to his coupled entry, #1A Vicar’s Legend, who won at this level last December 5 but has not finished better than sixth in three subsequent starts. With two different trainers between them, don’t be surprised to see both make the field. #3 Bustin Shout won by open lengths against allowance/optional company on January 18 at Aqueduct and will likely sit on the front end early. He drops in class to strict claiming company and returns to trainer Bruce Levine, who saddled him to break his maiden last year. #8 Shamrock Kid is the stalker to beat if the projected speed duel ensues. Eric Cancel did a masterful job of bringing him off the pace in his last start at this level to win by over 3 lengths.
Race 4: Maiden Special weight for New York-bred 3-year-olds and upward going 1 1/16 miles (8 1/2 furlongs) on the inner turf
#3 Aintitfunkynow returns to the turf for the first time since November, where he finished fourth twice against considerably tougher fields. Irad Ortiz, Jr,. has won 27% of his rides on Mike Maker-trained horses in the last 365 days.
Race 5: $62.5k Allowance/Optional Claiming for fillies and mares 3-year-olds and upward going 7 furlongs on the outer turf
One of the tougher races in the sequence due to the distance, none of these runners want to be on the lead, but they don’t want to be too far behind, either. My top choice #10 Lady Worthington has been SCRATCHED. Runners to use: #1 Clara Peeters, #1A Stone Tornado, #2 Kreesie, #6 Hannah’s Smile, #8 Devant, #11 Madeleine Must
$.50 PICK 5 (Races 1-5) 1,2,4 / 5,8,14 / 1-1A,3,8 / 3,12 / 1-1A,2,6,8,11 – $135
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