Belmont Sprint Championship Stakes – Race 7 at Belmont Park – Post Time 5:11 PM Eastern
Shaft of Light has won 10 of 23 races on dirt, six of those at this 7 furlong trip in 10 tries. The most important fact to note from his past performances is he has earned all 10 wins leading from start to finish. As a seven year old, I would not expect the best races of his career to have come lately three races back at this distance, Shaft of Light earned a then career best 119 Equibase figure before bettering it by one point to 120 winning the a non-graded stakes in April. Next time out when stretching his speed a bit further in the Salvatore Mile, Shaft of Light led from the start and almost held that lead to the end when beaten a half-length. With three exceptional five furlong workouts since that race and cutting back to his best distance, Shaft of Light could break out to an early lead and never look back.
Limousine Liberal is also running seven furlongs as he won the Churchill Downs Stakes in 2017 and in 2018 at the distance. His 116 figure effort this year was the third best of his career, the best being a 120 figure when beaten a nose in the Phoenix Stakes in the fall of 2016. If he can run like that he would be on par with Shaft of Light and it’s a good sign Jose Ortiz gets on as Ortiz rode him to both Churchill Downs Stakes wins.
Whitmore has won 10 of 20 races in his career but has only attempted to run this seven furlong distance once, finishing fourth behind Limousine Liberal in this year’s Churchill Downs Stakes. However, he ran exceptionally well at 6 1/2 furlongs recently when beaten a neck in the True North Stakes over the track. With a running style that usually sees him towards the back of the pack in the early stages, Whitmore would be the best beneficiary if Shaft of Light is tackled early by another horse and in that case he has the potential to pass the field for his 11th career win.
Win Bet: Shaft of Light to win at odds of 2 to 1or more.
Exacta Bets: Box Shaft of Light and Limousine Liberal. Box Shaft of Light and Whitmore.
Doubles: Shaft of Light, Limousine Liberal and Whitmore in Race 7 with Paved, Capla Temptress and Fatale Bere in Race 8.
Belmont Oaks Invitational Stakes – Race 8 at Belmont Park – Post Time 5:46 PM Eastern
Capla Temptress has only run badly ONE time in six races, and in that start (when 7th of 14 in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf last fall) she had significant traffic trouble. She ran her first three races in Europe, winning two and finishing a fine second to Juliet Capulet in a group 3 stakes in the other, before coming to North American last summer and winning the Grade 3 Natalma Stakes. The next two finishers in that race are two of the top 3 year old fillies in North America – Dixie Moon & Wonder Gadot, and beating them showed Capla Temptress fits with the best. After the Breeders’ Cup she was allowed six months to mature and she was so highly regarded she returned in a Group 1 race in France worth nearly $600,000. In that race, Capla Temptress was surrounded inside other horses but when she saw daylight she exploded to be in a four horse photo for the win, beaten a neck and two heads on the wire. She gets Castellano for her trip back to the states and may be the one to beat based on that last effort and logical improvement 2nd off the layoff.
Fatale Bere should NOT be 20/1 but I’m certainly glad those are her morning line odds. Last month in the Grade 2 Honeymoon Stakes, when sent to post as the 6/5 favorite, she had NO SHOT when the saddle slipped and the jockey lost control. That being the case, we must consider her race two back her last start, and that was a win in the Providencia Stakes with a 108 Equibase Figure which is a good as many fillies with much lower starting odds. Desormeaux takes the call and rode Fatale Bere in her U.S. debut last October to a win in the Surfer Girl Stakes before a BIG effort in the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf, in which she finished 5th, beaten just 2 lengths, and 2 lengths in front of Capla Temptress.
Paved is another opening at absolutely ridiculous, and out of line, starting odds, in this case 12/1. She won the G2 Honeymoon last month as the second choice with 9/5 odds and two before that she beat males in the El Camino Real Derby with a 112 figure. She was beaten when third to Fatale Bere at 7 to 5 in the Providencia but she really has no knocks and a big shot to win here.
Win Bets: Capla Temptress to win at 5 to 2 odds or more.
For a lesser amount, Fatale Bere to win and to place at 4 to 1 or more and Paved to win and place at 4 to 1 or more.
For maximizing return when wagering on multiple horses to win, use a “Dutching” tool like the one available for free at amwager.com
Exacta: Capla Temptress, Fatale Bere and Paved over ALL.
Play the reverse of that exacta as well, which is ALL over Capla Temptress, Fatale Bere and Paved.
Doubles: ALL in Race 8 with Name Changer in Race 9
Capla Temptress, Fatale Bere and Paved in Race 8 with Dr. Dorr, Hoppertunity and Diversify in Race 9.
Suburban Stakes – Race 9 at Belmont Park – Post Time 6:18 PM Eastern
Name Changer is a playable longshot in this year’s Suburban because a few of the lower odds horses are not playable, at least as win bets at low odds. Although Hoppertunity is a 10 furlong stakes winner, as is Diversify, there is no guarantee Tapwrit (7/2 starting odds), War Story (5/1 starting odds) or Dr. Dorr (3/1) can win at 10 furlongs. Of that trio, Dr. Dorr appears the most capable off his runner-up effort in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita at the end of May and as he’s by Lookin At Lucky, the same sire as winner Accelerate. Name Changer has only raced 13 times though a five year old and was well regarded at three including when 3rd in the West Virginia Derby behind Cupid. He won a nice stakes race at the end of that year and his two races as a four year old proved nothing more than there was an issue so he was given 11 months off between June, 2017 and May of this year. He won both starts and the most recent earned him a 116 figure which when put in perspective gives him a big shot as that figure is BETTER than the 113 figures Hoppertunity earned in the Tokyo City Stakes and in the Brooklyn Handicap and as good as War Story earned in the Charles Town Classic, also as good as Dr. Dorr in any of his three recent races that make him the 3/1 favorite. There’s NO doubt Name Changer can get 10 furlongs as a son of Uncle Mo and Saez getting on is strong as the jockey is still underbet on the circuit. If Name Changer can repeat his most recent effort he can post a huge upset.
Although both wins by Hoppertunity this year came at 12 furlongs, he has no issue at this 10 furlong trip as he won the 2016 Jockey Club Gold Cup over the track at the distance. He’s 2 for 2 at Belmont and considering Baffert’s amazing 47% back-to-back win rate in graded stakes dirt routes over the last few years, another “A” effort could be forthcoming. Like Name Changer, Hoppertunity may get some pace to chase if Diversify and Dr. Dorr keep each other honest on the front end.
The pace scenario somewhat hinges on what Diversify and Dr. Dorr do in the early stages. They both have the ability to lead from the start but both have also demonstrated the ability to press the pacesetter and still win. Diversify won the 2017 Jockey Club Gold Cup (the race Hoppertunity won in 2016) leading all the way with a 119 figure that makes him tough if he isn’t pressed too hard early or if he can relax as he did in last month’s Commentator Stakes. Likewise Dr. Dorr earned a decent 114 figure when second in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita last time out and has now run three big races in a row.
Win Bet: Name Changer to win and to place at 5 to 1 or more, maybe even to win, place and show.
Exacta Bets: Box Name Changer, Dr. Dorr, Hoppertunity and Diversify.
Optional additional exacta: Name Changer, Dr. Dorr, Hoppertunity and Diversify over Name Changer, Dr. Dorr, Hoppertunity, Diversify, War Story, Zanotti and Tapwrit.
Doubles: Name Changer in Race 9 with ALL in Race 10.
Also, ALL in Race 9 with Kingstar in Race 10.
Also, Name Changer, Dr. Dorr, Hoppertunity and Diversify in Race 9 with Kingstar, Hunting Horn, Analyze It and Catholic Boy in Race 10.
Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes – Race 10 at Belmont Park – Post Time 6:50 PM Eastern
It’s not just that I’m hoping for big day for Team Valor entrants but I really feel Kingstar may be the one to beat. Just he and Hunting Horn have run this far on turf and could give them a little experience edge. There’s no question they fit on class and with Kingstar opening at 6/1 compared to 7/2 for Hunting Horn I’ll start there. Kingstar finished 2nd in an important Group 3 stakes in only the 2nd start of his career last fall in France then when returning from eight months off last month won as he pleased. His French rider comes over for a very good trainer (Pia Brandt) and he fits on all counts off the win at a mile and five-sixteenths last out.
Hunting Horn won as he pleased at Royal Ascot just a few weeks back, winning in a field of 16 by four lengths. Ryan Moore crosses the pond so we know the Coolmore gang is serious and the colt is 2 for 3 at 10 furlongs on turf.
Catholic Boy and Analyze It finished one-two in the Pennine Ridge Stakes on the course at 9 furlongs last month, a unusual race in which Catholic Boy led early, passed by Analyze It in the stretch, who opened up a length, before Catholic Boy angled from the inside to the outside of Analyze It to pass him for the win by a neck. It is possible BOTH colts idled a bit after making the lead and that concerns me given the kick European runners like Kingstar and Hunting Horn are known for because there’s no coming back from being passed by either of those colts.
Bets: Kingstar to win at odds of 3 to 1 or higher, adding a place bet at 5 to 1 or more.
Make a second win bet, this one on Hunting Horn, if he is anywhere near 3 to 1 at post time.
Exacta: Box Kingstar, Hunting Horn, Analyze It and Catholic Boy.