The $125,000 Elusive Quality Stakes is the feature on Belmont’s opening Saturday card. A field of 10 will test their mettle going seven furlongs on the turf. Post time for the Elusive Quality, Race 9 of 10 on the day, is 5:50 p.m. EST. As always, be sure to take part in FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game!
#9 CONQUEST PANTHERA (4-1), co-highweight at 124 pounds, has lost five straight but his most recent effort going seven furlongs on turf was a winning one; the Grade II Play The King at Woodbine. Subsequent starts have seen him either placed too highly (Grade I Woodbine Mile) or at too short a distance (the Grade II Woodford and the Aqueduct Turf Sprint). In his most recent start, the one-mile Danger’s Hour, he made a premature move and faded late. That was a fairly tough field for the purse; the Elusive Quality competition is slightly softer. CONQUEST PANTHERA gets a nice stalking post and should relish returning to seven panels. Look for him and Dylan Davis to post the mild upset.
#10 KHARAFA (9-2) gets in light (116 pounds) for his first start since September. The venerable New York-bred placed in four straight starts over the summer before hitting the shelf. He was second in this race last year, helping him get to 19 ITM finishes in 24 starts at Belmont. The nine-year-old veteran will have Joe Bravo aboard.
#2 UNDRAFTED (6-1) has gone a long time without winning a stake, hence the 116-pound weight assignment. However, he continues to post competitive speed figures, making him live in the Elusive Quality. Seven furlongs seems to be a bit of a reach though. Joel Rosario will have to produce a near-perfect ride on UNDRAFTED in the Wesley Ward trainee’s first start of 2018.
#3 READY FOR RYE (6-1) is not without hope on firm turf, but his connections are probably hoping for a rainout (4-3-1-0 record on off-tracks). However, READY FOR RYE was a winner in his only try going seven furlongs on turf (back in 2015). He also gets in at just 116 pounds. Luis Saez rides the versatile son of City Zip.
The play: $4 exacta 9/10, $3 exacta 9/2,3 ($10)
DFJ analysis: Luis Saez has live mounts lined up all Saturday long at Belmont. He rides in eight of the program’s 10 races, and all but one of his mounts is 6-1 or lower on the morning-line. That includes READY FOR RYE in the Elusive Quality.
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