NYRA’s turf sprint season gets underway at Belmont Park this Saturday with the $150k Elusive Quality Stakes. A field of seven (discounting the two main-track-onlys) will line up for this seven-furlong grass event, which goes as Race 8 on the opening Saturday program at “Big Sandy.” Post time is estimated for 5:13 p.m. EST. Be sure to take part in FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game in addition to watching and wagering!
#5 DISCO PARTNER (2-1, morning-line favorite) gets a substantial trainer upgrade, representing the Christophe Clement barn for the first time. He is a through-and-through sprinter with an all-told turf record of 10-4-3-1, and Clement does very well with these types. Something may have gone wrong in his latest start when he was fourth in October’s Belmont Turf Sprint Invitational, but it can be forgiven as he’s training well for this. If he runs back to his effort in the Troy at Saratoga two-back or his authoritative win under these circumstances in late 2015, he’s your most likely winner. Irad Ortiz Jr. has the call.
#3 SLIDING SPRING (4-1) appears to be the clear speed of the race, and he’ll have the services of John Velazquez today. He set fast paces in his last two tries at Gulfstream; one was a win, the other a fourth in the Grade III Appleton. He’s in peak form but will need to improve a bit in order to win. However, with such an inherent early advantage, he’s tough to leave out.
#8 CALGARY CAT (5-2) has never raced at Belmont nor tried seven furlongs but he has been seen on the NYRA circuit before. He was a late-charging fifth in the aforementioned Troy Stakes last year with a five-wide trip. CALGARY CAT will be making his seasonal debut off a respectable fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. Rajiv Maragh will be aboard for the first time, and he’s coming off a solid Aqueduct spring meet.
The play: $5 exacta 5/3,8 ($10)
DFJ analysis: Irad Ortiz Jr. has been in a groove lately, and he’ll have a good shot at a multiple-win Saturday here. A pair of 5-2 shots begin his day (Races 4 and 5), followed by Runaway Posse (5-1) in Race 6. After DISCO PARTNER, Ortiz rides a 10-1 shot in the nightcap.
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