Belmont Stakes Day has arrived and the rains have departed, leaving a muddy main track and a yielding turf course to start the day. There is no more rain in the forecast and by the time post time of the Belmont Stakes comes around at 6:36 eastern we might even see a good or possibly a fast track.
The 13-raace card gets underway at 11:35 eastern, and as of this morning just the third race has been taken off the turf.
That will give the turf course a few more hours to dry out and thankfully the two stakes carded for the turf are on, and they are two of the most intriguing races of the day.
The $500,000 Just a Game (G1) is a one mile test on the grass for fillies and mares that drew seven runners, five of which are Grade 1 winners.
Stephanie’s Kitten, winner of the Distaff Turf Mile (G2) at Churchill Downs on Derby Day is the 5-2 morning line favorite, but west coast invader Mizdirection figures to get plenty of attention at the betting windows.
The five-year-old mare has won nine of her 12 career starts on turf and won four of five last year.
The other turf stake is the $500,000 Woodward Reserve Manhattan Handicap (G1) which drew ten including Point of Entry, who was installed as the 3-5 morning line favorite.
The five-year-old was scratched out of the Woodward Reserve Turf Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs on Derby Day where he was slated to square off with Wise Dan. Trainer Shug McGaughey scratched him late in the afternoon because the turf course came up yielding.
McGaughey said he would not scratch him this afternoon despite the less than firm conditions that are expected.
It will be interesting to keep an eye on the track conditions as the day goes on as there is no doubt that Orb can handle a wet track. The Derby winner was 5-2 in the early wagering on Friday along with Revolutionary, who actually had a few more dollars wagered on him.
The surprise in the early betting was how frigid Preakness winner Oxbow was. The D. Wayne Lukas trainee was 16-1 when wagering closed on Friday. Expect that price to drop, but it is an indication that perhaps the wagering public is jumping off his bandwagon.
Here is today’s opening from Belmont Park to get the day off to a good start:
BEL Race 1 OClm $14,000N1X (11:35 ET) 6 Dehere of the Cat 8-1 9 Master Cip 2-1 12 Commandante 8-1 3 Saint Arthur 6-1
Analysis: Dehere of the Cat regressed last out as the beaten favorite when fading to finish eighth at this level going a mile. Two back off a seven month layoff going 6 1/2 furlongs the gelding finished up well and was beaten just a neck in a game effort. The cut back in distance should suit this guy and he figures to bounce back with a better effort here for the Trombetta barn. The gelding is bred top and bottom to handle a wet track and has a couple of thirds in two trips over wet tracks.
Master Cip stalked the early pace and could not get to the loose on the lead gate to wire winner, settling for the runner up spot. The fifth and eighth place finishers came out of the race to win their next starts. Blinkers go on this colt and he already owns solid early and mid pace numbers and figures to be right in the mix early here.
WIN: #6 to win at 9-2 or better.
EX: 6,9 / 3,6,9,12
TRI: 6,9 / 3,6,9,12 / 2,3,6,9,12
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Churchill Downs:
CD Race 9 The Mint Julep Hcp G3 (4:59 ET) 5 Daisy Devine 7-5 3 Miz Ida 2-1 1 Colonial Flag 9-2 6 Soft Whisper 6-1
Analysis: Daisy Devine is going to be tough here as the chalk. She is coming off a third place finish last out in the Distaff Turf Mile (G2) over ground labeled as good. The two that beat her are Stephanie's Kitten and Hungry Island, both going in today's Just a Game (G1) at Belmont Park. Two back she ran a good second to Centre Court, who also is in New York for the Just a Game. The mare has won seven of her 11 starts on turf in her career and makes her third start of her current form cycle.
Miz Ida came off a seven month layoff with a game runner up finish against $100,000 optional claimers which should set her up nicely for a top effort here as she returns to stakes company. She won four of her six starts last year including taking a division of the Valley View (G3) last fall at Keeneland. She has won six of her 10 career starts on grass and is in good hands with the Margolis barn that is 17% winners with runners making their second start off a +180 day layoff.
WIN: #5 to win at 7-5 or better.
EX: 3,5 / 1,3,5
TRI: no play
Today's Featured Race of the Day from Belmont Park:
BEL Race 8 The Just a Game G1 (3:58 ET) 4 Dayatthespa 6-1 7 Better Lucky 12-1 2 Stephanie's Kitten 5-2 6 Mizdirection 7-2
Analysis: Dayatthespa gets the call in a really classy field that includes five Grade 1 winners. The filly came off a 5 1/2 month layoff with a sharp win in the state bred U Go West Girl. These are obviously much tougher but she strung five in a row last year including the Queen Elizabeth II (G1) at Keeneland. She did not fire when shipped to Hollywood Park which was her lone loss on the year but not have liked the footing. Her only go over ground less than firm came as a juvenile so we'll give her another look here. She likes to be up front but the west coast shipper looks a bit quicker so she may take a tacking role here.
Better Lucky finished third in the QE II behind our top pick three back and then turned the tables by winning the Matriarch (G1). She came up short in the Jenny Wiley (G1) last out at Keeneland but that was her first go off a five month break. She figures to move forward off that effort and the 12-1 morning line looks generous as she fits with her best here.
Stephanie's Kitten made a good late rally over ground labeled as good to win the Distaff Turf Mile (G2) last out at Churchill Downs off nearly a seven month layoff. The filly has won five of her eight starts on turf and won the '11 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G2) over ground with some give to it. She is reunited with Johnny V. as Leparoux sticks with Centre Court.
Mizdirection is just a brilliant mare that has won nine of 12 on turf in her career with three seconds but she has never been on turf less than firm. She is going to get bet down from her 7-2 morning line so we will try to beat her here.
WIN: #4 to win at 4-1 or better.
EX: 4,7 / 2,4,6,7
TRI: 4,7 / 2,4,6,7 / 2,3,4,6,7
These are price plays for exotic players looking to find a couple of extra contenders to use in their trifecta and superfecta wagers. Or for those with smaller bankrolls, you might want to get in a small win-place wager.
R1: #6 Dehere of the Cat 8-1
R2: #9 Whatabouthonor 8-1
R4: #1 El Genio 12-1
R4: #4 Bernardo 15-1
R6: #8 Wabbajack 8-1
R8: #7 Better Lucky 12-1
R9: #10 Merit Man 10-1
R9: #9 Clearly Now 8-1
R10: #4 Real Solution 12-1
R10: #3 Side Road 20-1
R11: #12 Palace Malice 15-1
R11: #6 Incognito 20-1
R11: #13 Unlimited Budget 8-1
R12: #5 Why Not Whiskey 8-1
R12: #2 One Smokin Cat 15-1
Mike DempseyMike covers the New York racing circuit (Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga) year round as well as Keeneland, Churchill Downs, the Triple Crown, and the Breeders' Cup. The 2015 Triple Crown saw Mike correctly predict American Pharoah to win both the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. Mike nailed the Exacta and Trifecta in the Belmont Stakes. Mike had a solid 2014 Triple Crown race season, correctly picking the winning horse in 2 of 3 races. He selected I'll Have another to win The Preakness, and nailed Union Rags to win the Belmont Stakes as his top pick. Mike also had past succes in the Kentucky Derby, winning with Animal Kingdom in 2011 and rode his top picks, Super Saver and Street Sense, to the finish line in 2010 and 2007 respectively. No handicapper in the industry works harder to bring you analysis that produces profits at the track! Mike's Reports include his selections, detailed analysis, a fair odds line, and wagering recommendations for the entire card. Join Mike daily with top picks from Aqueduct. Breeders' Cup-->. You can also get his Weekend Best Plays Report in his Multi-Track package or sit at the track with him for 30 Days with his Monthly Horse Package!
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Jerry SessaJerry "Shots" Sessa has been involved in horse racing for over 30 years. He now brings his meticulous handicapping style to VegasInsider.com. When Jerry posts picks you are getting his best bets...when you win, he wins. Jerry opened the 2016 Triple Crown season by hitting his Derby Day best bet, Nyquist. He also nailed the Derby exacta for a $30.60 payout. On 4/16/16 at Keeneland, Jerry hit an $819 exacta that led to a $38k Trifecta & a $300k Super.
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