Five stakes races are on tap at Belmont Park on the day before the Belmont Stakes. We’ll take a look at a pair of them here. In addition to watching and wagering, don’t forget to play FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game!
Belmont Race 9 (Post time: 5:14 p.m. EST)
The Grade II New York Stakes
#5 SISTERCHARLIE (9-5, morning-line favorite) is the clear-cut choice after showing no signs of rust in the Grade I Jenny Wiley, winning off a July layoff with ease. She stretches back out to 1 1/4-miles here, which should be fine based on her strong runner-up effort in the Belmont Oaks last year. John Velazquez maintains the assignment for top-notch turf trainer Chad Brown.
#8 FOURSTAR CROOK (7-2), also trained by Brown, completed the exacta in the Jenny Wiley when last seen. It was a solid effort at Keeneland for the Belmont specialist, who’s 5-for-6 lifetime over this course. ‘CROOK, however, has just one start at this distance; a decent third over a soft course in Woodbine’s E.P. Taylor. Irad Ortiz Jr. takes over.
The play: $10 exacta 5/8
Belmont Race 10 (Post time: 5:46 p.m. EST)
The Grade II Belmont Gold Cup Invitational
#4 FUNNY KID (5-1) looks best-suited to the demanding two-mile distance of the Belmont Gold Cup. He’s alternated between synthetic and turf in his 18-race career overseas but enters this grass clash off a Group III win over the lawn going 1 15/16ths at Longchamp. He heads up slightly in class on paper, but he’s probably faced better turf horses in Britain and France than the Americans he meets here. Maxime Guyon sees fit to ship in and ride FUNNY KID.
#1 CALL TO MIND (7-2), owned by Queen Elizabeth II, makes his U.S. debut as well. He has yet to win a stakes but placed in two of his last three tries in group company. CALL TO MIND sheds significant weight and gets Javier Castellano aboard as he stretches out only slightly.
#5 CANESSAR (6-1) has gained ground in all three of his U.S. starts at 1 1/2-miles, so perhaps the distance increase to two miles will work in his favor. He’s won going as far as 1 7/8-miles in France last year. Feargal Lynch has the assignment.
#6 NESSY (5-2, morning-line favorite) made light work of an overmatched field in the San Juan Capistrano at Santa Anita last time out. However, NESSY’s 3-for-21 record makes him an unappealing play on top as the favorite. He’s also never gone this far, though the 1 3/4-mile Capistrano should serve as a valuable prep. Mike Smith maintains the mount.
The play: $3 exacta box 1/4, $2 exacta 4/5,6 ($10)
DFJ analysis: Javier Castellano is rounding into form at Belmont and has live mounts all day long on Friday. Ticonderoga (5-2) gets his day started in Race 1. Just a bit later, in Race 3, Castellano rides Ivy Bell (7-2) in the Bed o’ Roses. Fallstar (7-2) looks live in Race 6, as does Steeles Run (9-2) in the 11th and final. In between, Castellano climbs on Imperial Hint (9-2) in the True North and CALL TO MIND in the Gold Cup.
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