Belmont Park, which hosts the Belmont Stakes this Saturday, has put together a very interesting and lucrative Friday card. I’ll preview the last three stakes races on the program, worth in excess of $1 million in purse money. Be sure to get your bets down whether you’re at the track, at home or at work, and don’t forget to check out FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game!
Belmont Race 8
The Grade II True North Stakes
Purse: $250,000 Post Time: 4:42 p.m. EST
#3 PRIVATE ZONE will scratch due to a failed drug test by trainer Brian Lynch, which makes this race a little simpler. #1 HOLY BOSS will probably be sent to the front from his rail post under new pilot John Velazquez, and now he won’t have PRIVATE ZONE to duel up front with. He’s been running against some of the best horses in the sprint division lately; this seems like a softer spot. #6 ALWAYS SUNSHINE invades from the Mid-Atlantic off some sharp speed figures, one of which was good enough to win a stakes at Pimlico on the Preakness undercard. He’ll be hoping to do just a bit better than he did in the Tom Fool at Aqueduct, where he was second behind Salutos Amigos. Frankie Pennington ships in for the mount.
The play: $4 exacta box 1/6 ($8)
Daily Fantasy Jockey angle: John Velazquez is worth the premium salary of $11,500 on Friday, as he has a mount in all but one of the 11 races on the card, with most of them being “live.” He rides HOLY BOSS, who has a very good chance to hit the board in here.
Belmont Race 9
The Grade II New York Stakes
Purse: $500,000 Post Time: 5:14 p.m. EST
Everyone else is running for place money if #1 SEA CALISI demonstrates the devastating turn of foot she displayed in the Sheepshead Bay last time out, where she simply dominated a talented field of fillies and mares. Jose Ortiz has the mount. #2 DACITA loses Javier Castellano (who chose #5 PHOTO CALL) but has the distinction of being the last horse to beat Tepin (the Ballston Spa). Look for her to be rolling late under Irad Ortiz. #7 GUAPAZA has settled for too many small shares behind these two for me to consider her on top, but she could hit the board with her best effort under John Velazquez.
The play: $5 exacta 1/2,7 ($10)
Daily Fantasy Jockey angle: SEA CALISI is one of several good chances Jose Ortiz has to win on today’s card. Even with his steep price tag of $11,500, it’s hard to exclude him when he has such a good shot to win the richest race of the day.
Belmont Race 10
The Belmont Gold Cup Invitational
Purse: $300,000 Post Time: 5:46 p.m. EST
This race is not graded, but it does carry the second-richest purse of the day. #4 UP WITH THE BIRDS showed enough late kick in the Man o’ War last time to make me think he’ll take to the rigorous two mile distance of this race. He certainly has the breeding for it (by Stormy Atlantic out of a Seeking the Gold mare). #5 DA BIG HOSS is just about as consistent as marathoners get; we know he can get at least a mile and five-eighths (see his win in the John’s Call), which is more than most of these can say. However, I don’t like that he has to spot eight pounds to most of these. #9 KAIGUN will probably get bet hard again as he always does, and while in think he’ll like the added ground, I can’t trust him on top. He’s finished behind these too many times. #1 BELISARIUS is longshot with a realistic chance; he’ll have to improve on his speed figures a bit but it’s possible he will as a first-time gelding. He’ll also have to handle the step up in class, but I think he’ll be passing some tired ones late. His foreign pedigree suggests distance influence.
The play: $4 exacta 4/1,5,9 ($12)
Daily Fantasy Jockey angle: Hopefully Jose Ortiz (BELISARIUS) and John Velazquez (UP WITH THE BIRDS) will carry us through here. They seem like the best jockeys to build around on Friday. You might be able to take one more rider at Belmont like Florent Geroux ($10,500), but it would handcuff the rest of your stable. Manny Franco ($10,000) and Jose Lezcano ($9,500) could also be considered; at least they have mounts in two of the three biggest races of the day, albeit not ones I think will do well.
If you’re looking for out-of-town bargains to round out your stable, consider Joe Talamo ($7,500) and Flavien Prat ($6,500), as both have live mounts throughout Friday at Santa Anita.
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