‘Divining’ a winner in Kelso Handicap

Belmont hosts the Grade II, $300,000 Kelso Handicap, a logical prep for the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, this Saturday. The one-mile Kelso, Race 9 on a 10-race card, drew a field of six. Estimated post time is 5:45 p.m. EST. Be sure to study this race carefully if you’re playing FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game!

#4 DIVINING ROD (2-1) is a bit short on credentials from a straight winning perspective, but he was a tough customer in last year’s Cigar Mile, losing by just a head to the talented Connect. His 2017 comeback was a long time coming but he was victorious in August’s Polynesian Stakes at Laurel. He followed that up with a lackluster effort in the Forego at Saratoga, but he was just a head behind #1 TOM’S READY. No one was beating Drefong in the Forego with the race he ran anyway.

DIVINING ROD faces a less challenging field today than he met in the Forego and will be reunited with Daniel Centeno, who was aboard in the Cigar. His career record going one mile (4-3-1-0) stands out and he continues to work well for Arnaud Delacour. DIVINING ROD gets the call to post the mild upset.

#5 SHARP AZTECA (4-5, morning-line favorite) is usually well-backed at the windows regardless of placement and should continue that trend in the Kelso. He delivered as an odds-on winner in the four-horse Monmouth Cup on this year’s Haskell undercard when last seen. He runs awfully fast but is winless in two starts at Belmont, including his distant runner-up placing in this year’s Met Mile.

DIVINING ROD will almost assuredly take it to SHARP AZTECA early and try to turn the Kelso into a match race; we’ll see if the latter is up to the challenge. Paco Lopez has the call.

#2 TOMMY MACHO (10-1) is a logical underneath threat despite his no-show performance when last seen in the Forego. He finished third in four straight races before that, two coming over this course. Luis Saez is out of town, so Joe Bravo picks up the mount.

The play: $5 trifecta 4,5/4,5/2 ($10)

DFJ analysis: Joe Bravo’s four mounts make him a bargain pickup this Saturday. He rides the 9-5 favorite in Race 1 and two other horses at single-digit odds before picking up the assignment on TOMMY MACHO in the Kelso.

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