This Memorial Day is Big Apple Showcase day at Belmont, featuring six stakes restricted to New York-breds. The headliner is the $200k Commentator going one mile on dirt. We’ll discuss that race along with the $125k Kingston for turf milers. Be sure to try out FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game this holiday weekend!
Commentator Stakes (Belmont Race 8)
#6 ROYAL POSSE (4-1) has the best chance to take advantage of a potentially fast pace. The talented #5 DIVERSIFY (5-2, morning-line favorite) should find himself in front but with several sprinters attempting to stretch out and speedster #4 HIT IT ONCE MORE joining the fray, DIVERSIFY could have a hard time holding off the stretch runners.
ROYAL POSSE was second in two NY-bred stakes at Belmont last year before going on a four-race winning streak that included Belmont’s Empire Classic. He had a hectic two-race campaign at Aqueduct before finding 11 furlongs too far last time out. The one-mile Commentator should suit him well, though his best distance seems to be 1 1/8-miles. Javier Castellano has the call on ROYAL POSSE, who is 10-3-5-1 at this track.
#1 CELTIC CHAOS (10-1) has won two straight and has found the board six straight times but could get overlooked stretching out today. He’s demonstrated a tremendous closing kick in his last two starts and is now 3-for-5 over this course. Eric Cancel will be aboard.
A potential off-track would only help ROYAL POSSE and CELTIC CHAOS. ROYAL POSSE is 10-4-4-0 lifetime on wet tracks, while CELTIC CHAOS is 5-2-1-2. DIVERSIFY has never raced on a track rated less than fast.
The play: $4 exacta 6/1,5, $2 win 1 ($10)
Kingston Stakes (Belmont Race 9)
#5 KING KREESA (8-1) gets a big trainer switch to Linda Rice (31% this year) for his 2017 unveiling. He’ll also get a jockey upgrade to Jose Ortiz. KING KREESA’s natural early speed is an asset he’s not been allowed to use in his last few starts. When he went to the lead last summer he was able to win two state-bred stakes while settling for fourth in the Grade I Fourstardave. If Ortiz sends him today, he should meet little early resistance and be in prime position to pull an upset. A potentially less-than-firm course shouldn’t hurt him; he was second in last year’s version of the Kingston on a yielding course and first in Saratoga’s West Point Stakes, also on a yielding course.
#10 KHARAFA (5-1) has been in the money in four of his last five starts dating back to last summer. He was a solid second in a tune-up for this, the seven-furlong Elusive Quality. Paco Lopez keeps the mount.
#8 OFFERING PLAN (4-1) was close in two straight starts in these ranks to end his year. He comes in off the bench today for Chad Brown, who names Castellano to ride.
#2 LUBASH (5-1), the venerable 10-year-old son of Freud, makes his second start of the year for Cristophe Clement. He’s duked it out numerous times with the top two choices in this field, winning his fair share of those battles. He’ll get a rider upgrade to Irad Ortiz Jr. as he seeks his 11th win over this course in try number 28.
The play: $3 exacta 5/2,8,10, $1 exacta 10/5 ($10)
DFJ analysis: Javier Castellano has a strong hand on Monday, riding in eight of 10 races. In addition to ROYAL POSSE and OFFERING PLAN, Castellano rides Fourstar Crook (2-1), Literata (10-1), Runaway Lute (12-1), and North End (4-1) in the stakes races.
Jose Ortiz is another strong ‘big-budget’ option, as he has nine mounts on Belmont’s Monday program. Seven of those mounts are 6-1 or below in odds, and KING KREESA represents a strong ITM chance at 8-1.
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