The Grade I $1.5 million Belmont Stakes is the centerpiece of Saturday’s 13-race extravaganza at Belmont Park, but it is just one of six races worth over $500,000 is purse money on their Saturday program. Accordingly, the lucrative purses have drawn some high quality fields, with many of them containing ten horses or more. He’s a look at the three Belmont Stakes day undercard races that caught my eye. Be sure to get your bets down early and try out FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey Game!
Belmont Race 5
The Grade I Ogden Phipps
Purse: $1 million, Post Time: 1:52 p.m. EST
#5 CURALINA (3-1) comes into this race with perhaps the most impressive last-out performance of the bunch; a seven-length romp in the Grade I La Troienne at Churchill Downs at this distance. We know she likes Belmont, as she won the Acorn here last year. She shouldn’t be too far off the pace under John Velazquez; look for her to take over around the quarter pole and win by a comfortable margin. #2 STOPCHARGINGMARIA (7-2) will be rolling late with Javier Castellano aboard; the distance should suit last year’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner perfectly in her second start off the bench. #6 FOREVER UNBRIDLED (4-1) has won three straight but faces a tougher field than she’s accustomed to, slotting underneath. #7 SHEER DRAMA may have bounced in the La Troienne after a big effort in the Madison to hold off STOPCHARGINGMARIA, a performance in-between those two can land a share.
The play: $4 exacta 5/2,6,7 ($12)
Daily Fantasy Jockey angle: Curalina is just one of several live mounts John Velazquez ($11,500) has today. Having one of the most reliable “big race” riders is your stable would be a good idea on a day like this.
Belmont Race 7
The Grade II Woody Stephens
Purse: $500,000 Post Time: 3:15 p.m. EST
Most people will be paying attention to #1 SHARP AZTECA (7-2), who improved dramatically to take the Pat Day Mile on Kentucky Derby day, and #4 JUSTIN SQUARED (4-1), who won the Chick Lang Stakes on the Preakness undercard for team American Pharoah (Zayat Stables and Bob Baffert). I’m going a different direction in this race, and I hope it will pay off. #3 DIG DEEP goes for the small-but-solid Colts Neck Stable with trainer Alan Goldberg, and they managed to lure Castellano for a second straight time. The last time they teamed up, DIG DEEP captured a minor stakes on the Charles Town Classic undercard. This is a step up in company but he’s certainly run speed figures good enough to merit consideration at 8-1. #12 I WILL SCORE (5-1) probably drew too wide to win this one as one of the many early speeds in here, but he comes off a career-best effort in the Laz Barrera Stakes last time out and ships in for sharp connections (Martin Garcia rides, Jerry Hollendorfer trains); don’t ignore.
The play: $8 win 3
Daily Fantasy Jockey angle: Javier Castellano is worth every penny of his $12,000 salary on Saturday; between live longshots like Dig Deep and logical favorites like Cathryn Sophia in the Acorn, I’d be shocked if Castellano didn’t post one of the top two or three performances of the day.
Belmont Race 9
The Grade I Metropolitan Handicap
Purse: $1.25 million, Post Time: 4:41 p.m. EST
#5 FROSTED drew the top-weight assignment (120 lbs) and was set as the post-time favorite (7-2), but he is just one of many who have a strong shot in this year’s Met Mile. #3 DONWORTH (20-1) hinted at some promise in his three-year-old season before hitting the shelf; he came back in January and ran a huge race in the San Antonio at Santa Anita, where he was a narrowly-beaten third. Since then he’s run into some serious trouble; he was stymied at the rail in the Santa Anita Handicap two starts back then chased wide the entire way in the three-turn Charles Town Classic. He drilled a bullet for this and has sharp connections in his corner.
The play: $10 win 3
Daily Fantasy Jockey angle: Mario Gutierrez ($7,000) has limited experience around the Belmont oval, but he’s in to ride some live horses for Doug O’Neill on Saturday, chiefly Donworth. Guns Loaded has a good shot in the Jaipur Invitational (Race 6), as does Mrazek in the Woody Stephens (Race 7).
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