Down to the Wire: Belmont S. Edition

6/6/2014: Belmont Race 10: Belmont Gold Cup Invitational S.:
 #7 Auld Alliance

After winning her American debut, the four-year-old Irish-bred filly Auld Alliance looks to win her stakes debut, as well. It's fair to say she never really found herself in England after breaking her maiden immediately after finishing second to Riposte in her maiden win at Newmarket, but she did routinely run in longer (12-14f) routes. A daughter of known stamina influence Montjeu, this distance -- particularly over firm ground -- shouldn't be an issue and any improvement off of her recent allowance win makes her a contender here at what will likely be a square price.
**Others to Consider: #8 Draw Two, #6 Irish Mission

Belmont Gold Cup / Belmont S. Daily Double: 6,7,8 / 1,11

Belmont S. Undercard:

Race 2: Easy Goer S.: #3 Effinex
Lightly raced son of Mineshaft appears to be coming into his own right about now. After breaking his maiden in March, he followed that up with an easy allowance win versus New York breds before having all sorts of trouble in the G1 Wood Memorial. He was hard to load and had the widest trip of them all sans Uncle Sigh. He most recently finished third in a NY bred allowance behind two elders over a mile, which appears to be slightly shorter than he'd want. A stretch back out to 8.5f, first time Lasix, and this being his second start off the layoff makes him a contender at what will likely be a nice price.
**Others to Consider: #1 Life in Shambles, #7 Legend

Race 3: G2 Brooklyn Invitational S.: #4 Cat Burglar
A rising star on the west coast, this son of Unbridled's Song showed he can make his presence felt on the East coast just as well when finishing third in the Pimlico Special S., which was also his graded stakes debut. He's never run this far before, as is the case for nearly the entire field, but he ran a gutsy race last time out and I'd expect him to improve off that in what will be his third start off the layoff.
**Others to Consider: #5 Ever Rider, #8 Norumbega

Race 4: G3 Jaipur Invitational S.: #10 Marchman
A winner of two straight, both of which came over horses who return here, Marchman has shown steady improvement since regularly running in turf sprints. He may ultimately be better at five furlongs than six, but I don't expect the pace here to be too quick, which should help him get the distance.
**Others to Consider: #9 Positive Side

Race 5: G2 Woody Stephens S.: #2 Financial Mogul
Horse to Watch Financial Mogul has ran against the "big boys" all year along and he had a nightmarish trip last time out, while cutting back to seven furlongs. Despite his troubles, he finished only two and one half furlongs behind the winner. A cleaner trip here could make all the difference in the world and with so many big names signed up, the price will certainly be right.
**Others to Consider: #11 Social Inclusion, #5 Coup de Grace, #3 Havana

Race 6: G1 TVG Acorn S.: #7 Unbridled Forever
The pace here figures to be very speedy early, so I opted for who I think is the best horse coming from off the pace in Unbridled Forever. A daughter of Unbridled's Song out of a Lemon Drop Kid mare, Unbridled Forever was impressive early in the season before running into Untapable in her last two runs, in which she twice finished third. Untapable isn't running here, however, and My Miss Sophia looks like she'll have quite a bit of company up front early, so look for Unbridled Forever to take advantage and come on late. 
**Others to Consider: #8 My Miss Sophia, #9 Artemis Agrotera

Pick 6 (Races 6-11): 7,8 / 5 / 8,9,10 / 4,10,12,13 / 4 / 1,9

Race 7: G1 Ogden Phipps S.: #5 Beholder
She's as consistent and classy as they come and her win in last year's BC Distaff was over her biggest competitors today. While some question her ability to perform outside of California, a second in last year's Kentucky Oaks is by no means a flop in my book. By all accounts, she's looked well on site and I expect her to show 'em what she's made of here. 

Race 8: G1 Longines Just A Game S.: #10 Better Lucky
The now five-year-old daughter of Ghostzapper is as consistent as they come as far as hitting the board in top class races is concerned and she'll not only be switching to the turf (from synthetic) on what will be her second start off a nearly four month layoff, but I see a few horses pressuring probable pace setter Somali Lemonade early, which could benefit her, as well. 
**Others to Consider: #8 Waterway Run, #9 Discreet Marq

Pick 4 (Races 8-11): 8,9,10 / 1,4,10,12,13 / 4 / 1,9

Race 9: G1 Metropolitan H.: #12 Romansh
I'm certainly expecting a fast pace here with Goldencents and Broadway Empire in the field. Romansh is by no means the most consistent of this bunch, as he is apt to throw in a clunker every now and then, but I think he's one who could appreciate the cutback to a mile and while a few of these have been logging in race after race, he enters here fresh and working well. Regardless, this is a race where I think it'd be wise to spread, if possible.
**Others to Consider: #13 Shakin It Up, #10 Clearly Now

Pick 3 (Races 9-11): 1,4,10,12,13 / 4 / 1,7,9

Race 10: G1 Knob Creek Manhattan S.: #4 Grandeur
Out of the final sequences, this is the race where I'll be singling. At his best, Grandeur is the fastest of this group and unlike last out in the Man 'O War, he will get his ideal conditions: ie 10f over firm ground. The Man 'O War was also devoid of any early speed, which didn't suit him either and should not be the case here. He gets Gary Stevens aboard and will be first time Lasix. I will say of the others, however, I am most afraid of Real Solution upsetting my choice, as he ran a very nice second while against Grandeur and Imagining last out. 

DD (Races 10-11): 4 / 1,7,8,9,11

Race 11: G1 Belmont S.: #9 Wicked Strong
If you're like me and are tossing California Chrome on top for betting purposes, Wicked Strong does appear to be the logical play. He finished a nice fourth in the Kentucky Derby despite a wide trip after starting from the far outside. Prior to that, he won the G1 Wood Memorial, the form of which has appeared to hold up well with him and Samraat finishing fourth and fifth in the Derby before Social Inclusion went on to finish third in the Preakness. I expect California Chrome to be on the lead and the pace to be slow, but Wicked Strong has shown an ability to settle in a variety of positions depending on the pace. While more often than not he's shown to be a closer, he did run much closer to the front in the slowly run Remsen S. and Rajiv Maragh has already said he'd like to have him closer than he was in the Derby this time around. Add to that this race is in New York, where he tends to run his best races.
**Others to Consider: #1 Medal Count, #7 Samraat

Pick 3 (Races 11-13): 1,7,9 / 2,4,7 / 5,6,10


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