Jun 09, 2018
At the Gate - Sunday
As they turned for home in the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (G1) on Saturday, my top pick Justify looked as if he was traveling well and we were about to witness history for just the 13th time.
However, instead of fixating on the undefeated Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, my eyes were focused on who the runner up would be. I had good exactas with Vino Rosso and Hofburg, but it soon became apparent somebody was coming from the clouds.
As they headed into the first turn Gronkowski had lost touch with the field, and I thought to myself the colt might get pulled up. But he came running in the stretch to run a solid second at 24-1 with Jose Ortiz aboard for the ride.
The $2 exacta paid a nice $89.00 and I had given the European invader little chance of making an impact in the race.
However, looking back he did have the pedigree to get the 1 ½ miles and for once I underestimated trainer Chad Brown. He said before the race that in the month he had the colt he “checked all the boxes” and that should have been good enough for me to at least use him in the bottom half of the exacta.
After an exciting day we are right back in action on Sunday with a good 10-race card at Belmont Park and my Best Plays Report for Sunday include my seven strongest plays from Belmont Park and Santa Anita.
To purchase my Belmont Park and Best Plays Reports for Sunday click here.
Here is the opening race from Belmont Park to get the day off to a good start:
BEL Race 1 Md Sp Wt (1:30 ET)
1 Gump 2-1
5 Whiskey Echo 8-5
2 Flashgun 3-1
3 Mucho 4-1
Analysis: Gump chased the early pace while down along the inside, came three wide, dove back down to the rail and could not catch the winner in a runner up finish at 12-1. The inside was not the place to be that day in the slop. Castellano takes over oi this filly, who is out of a stakes placed Pleasant Tap mare that has dropped one winner.
Whiskey Echo makes her debut for the Asmussen barn that is 17% winners with first timers. The $225,000 Kendall purchase is by Tiznow (8% winners with debut runners) out of a Stormy Atlantic mare, her first foal to race. Four drills at Keeneland including a bullet drill on May 29 out of the gate. She looks ready to go but may end up a light price in this short field.
WIN: #1 to win at 8-5 or better.
EX: 1 / 2,5
TRI: no play
Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Belmont Park:
BEL Race 9 The Jersey Girl (5:50 ET)
7 Lezendary 9-2
6 Take Charge Paula 8-5
1 Devine Mischief 3-1
5 Strategic Dreams 5-1
Analysis: Lezendary did not show much last out in the Miss Preakness (G3) and it looked as if she did not care for the slop going racing near the back of the pack and weakening in the stretch to finish a well beaten fifth. Two back she dueled for the early lead and drew off to win by 3 1/4 lengths in her first star against winners. Just going to blame her subpar effort over not caring much for the slop and looking for her to rebound with a much better effort.
Take Charge Paula set the early fractions in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) and packed it in, fading to finish a well beaten 14th last out. She ran well two back in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) around two turns where she led most of the way and weakened to finish second. But she is much better around one turned won three stakes in a row sprinting including the Forward Gal (G3) at seven furlongs. She is back doing what she does best and has worked quickly in the mornings since her last outing.
WIN: #7 to win at 7-2 or better.
EX: 6,7 / 1,5,6,7
TRI: 6,7 / 1,5,6,7 / 1,4,5,6,7
Today’s Featured Race of the Day from Santa Anita:
SA Race 8 The Affirmed G3 (4:22 PT)
3 Afleet Ascent 6-1
5 Solomini 4-5
1 Run Away 7-2
6 Draft Pick 4-1
Analysis: Afleet Ascent has the best shot of beating the chalk here. The Hollendorfer trainee makes his first start on dirt since his debut at Los Al where he as third. Both of his wins have come on turf and he was a decent fourth on the fake stuff in the Gold Rush at Golden Gate Fields going a mile. Last out in the Singletary on turf at a mile he dueled for the early lead and weakened late to finish fourth while beaten just 3/4 of a length for the top spot. The barn is 18% winners moving runners from route to sprint.
Solomini makes his first start since a 10th in the Kentucky Derby (G1). He crossed the wire first in the Los Al Futurity (G1) last December but was DQ'd and ran well in Hot Springs in his first two starts this year, a runner up finish in the Rebel (G2) and a third in the Arkansas Derby (G1). The class drop suits him after he did not have a very good trip on Derby Day in the slop. The main knock is going to be the light price.
WIN: #3 to win at 4-1 or better.
EX: 3,5 / 1,3,5
TRI: no play
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.
R2: #3 Diamond Jen Brady 8-1
R3: #3 Archumybaby 8-1
R4: #1 Matty’s Magnum 8-1
R8: #5 Summer Bourbon 8-1
R10: #11 Tammany Giant 10-1
R10: #8 Stag of Sylvia 8-1
Good luck today!