Jagow: Thoughts On NYRA Bets’ Late Pick 5 For Belmont Card

The Belmont Stakes slate of races has become one of the best betting opportunities for all horse racing fans, this year with eight Grade 1 events culminating in the 151st running of the “Test of the Champion.”

One of the best wagers on this Saturday’s card is the NYRA Bets Late Pick 5, with a .50 minimum. For bettors who love the Breeders’ Cup, it’s an early preview to that event because every race in the sequence is a Grade 1 filled with top quality horses.

I know everyone likes to bet these wagers differently, so here I share my opinions on the sequence but leave it up to you as to how to fill out your tickets. Perhaps there’s a horse or two that fell under your radar or a race you haven’t handicapped quite as thoroughly. Without further adieu, my two cents:

RACE 7, The Acorn, One Mile, 3-Year-Old Fillies

Overview: Serengeti Empress is disrespectfully the second choice (5-2) on the morning line off her Kentucky Oaks victory in her eighth start, while Chad Brown-trained Guarana gets penciled in at 2-1 off her near 15-length maiden special weight victory at Keeneland in her debut and only race. I’d like to beat both of them — Serengeti Empress because she’s not trustworthy, by her resume, and Guarana because she’s had one lonely start, and I prefer taking down the fave in the first leg of multi-race wagers if possible. So here are three horses I like instead:

Queen of Beas (12-1): On paper, there appears to be a good deal of speed in this one-mile affair, and some of those early speed types are either coming out of sprints or seem to be hell-bent on the lead, so a legit pace could be a foregone conclusion. Enter a longshot that has come from behind in all four of her races. Hitting the board in every start with two wins so far, Queen of Beas may not have liked the sloppy track in her last-out third-place finish in the Eight Belles Stakes on Kentucky Oaks day. It was also her first start since January. Solid rider Manny Franco jumps aboard for trainer Jorge Abreu, who is zero for his last 23 graded stakes but he’s a pretty good conditioner. She could steal this late.

Cookie Dough (6-1): She set the pace and wilted in the G2 Black-Eyed Susan, but that was 1 1/8 miles. She cuts back to the mile in her first race with new trainer Kiaran McLaughlin and first-time jockey Javier Castellano. Both changes are noteworthy — New York-based McLaughlin doesn’t have a great win percentage with first timers in his barn but his recent ROI in that category is $2.36. As a jockey/trainer combo in 2018-19, Castellano and McLaughlin have four wins from seven starts, and that screams off the page. Filly just needs to relax and rate and she can win this.

Ce Ce (9-2): Her races are just as good speed figure-wise as Guarana’s one start and she’s had two of them. Draws outside, giving jockey Victor Espinoza options. Rated in her maiden win, she set a hot pace and lost by a neck in second start. Would take her over the favorite.

Race 8: Woody Stephens Stakes, Seven Furlongs, 3-Year-Olds

Overview: Before I handicap it, if that’s even possible with this group, I’ll give this field “The Most Intriguing Names” Award for the Belmont Stakes Festival. For the sake of levity in a handicapping piece, here are notes on some names in this race:

Hog Creek Hustle (20-1): This could be one of three things: A country music line dance, a Netflix true crime documentary or a breakfast platter at a delicious diner somewhere.

Wendell Fong (10-1): I figured this had to be a sculptor or designer of furniture (have you seen the latest Wendell Fong piece?), but my sources tell me the horse is actually named for a never-seen character in the comedy series Frasier.

Lexitonian (15-1) definitely sounds like a newspaper that went under in the 1990s. Wait, it turns out there is actually a Lexingtonian newspaper that still exists in Illinois.

Landeskog (12-1): I was sure this is the name of a comforter I bought at IKEA or a new high-end vodka brand, but all signs point to the horse being named for the captain of the Colorado Avalanche National Hockey League team.

Having gotten that out of my system, I don’t see any of those longshots winning. It likely comes down to, in order:

Honest Mischief (6-1): Juddmonte Farms colt ran off by eight lengths in his second start with an eye-popping speed figure for trainer Chad Brown and jockey Javier Castellano. His dam, Honest Lady (by Seattle Slew), won four graded stakes at this distance of seven furlongs on the dirt. Draw your own conclusions.

Much Better (5-1): From the late Pioneerof the Nile and trained by Bob Baffert, who guided Pioneerof the Nile colt American Pharoah to the 2015 Triple Crown, Much Better was Much Terrible in his last race, like Bayern was in the 2014 Preakness just before he won this same event. Baffert’s record in recent Grade 1s on Belmont day is sick so toss him at your peril.

Mind Control (5-2): His 3-year-old numbers are significantly better than his juvenile figures, when he was considered perhaps the top early Derby contender, so his post position (9) might be the only thing working against him.

Race 9 Metropolitan Mile, 3-Year-Olds & Up

Overview: Many are pointing to this as the best race on the Belmont Stakes card and it’s hard to argue when trying to pick the winner. It’s an excellent field but unless you want to push the ALL button, which I don’t, we have to narrow it down. Despite his resume, I’m tossing Thunder Snow because he hasn’t run this distance in 18 months. I can’t back Pavel or Tale of Silence so we have a six-pack left to choose from, in order:

Firenze Fire (4-1): He’s 3-for-3 at Belmont, trained by Kentucky Derby “sort of winning” trainer Jason Servis, whose numbers going sprint-sprint-route are phenomenal. Has a stalking style that suits, with top jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. on board. Could be the one to beat.

Mitole (3-1): Just keeps getting better but stretching out to the mile for the first time. Probably not an issue, but racing at Belmont for the first time could be. Seeking seventh win in a row for jockey/trainer combo of Ricardo Santana, Jr. and Steve Asmussen, he could also be the horse to beat.

McKinzie (5-2): Mike Smith riding plus Bob Baffert training with his Belmont Stakes day record, and the horse’s speed figures are top-notch. Won by almost five on Kentucky Oaks day, shortens up slightly. Technically, he’s the favorite and um, the one to beat.

Coal Front (6-1): Skipped over to Dubai and won a race, now seeking fourth straight victory and eighth in 10 starts. That’s an excellent resume. Won at Belmont in his only race here. Todd Pletcher and Jose Ortiz. Maybe odds will float up?

Prince Lucky (12-1): The “other” Todd Pletcher trainee, ridden by the great John Velazquez. If you toss his last in sloppy conditions at Belmont, he’s shooting for a fourth win in a row, one of which was a win over this track. Seems to like this distance so why not at a price?

Promises Fulfilled (12-1): Came back to U.S. and ran within five weeks of finishing fourth in the Dubai Golden Shaheen. That’s a quick turnaround for flying halfway around the world, so he could certainly improve in this spot. But can he avoid a burnout on the front end?

Upon further review: If you have the Quiche to spend, might want to press ALL anyway.

Race 10, Manhattan Handicap, 1 1/4 Miles, 4-Year-Olds & Up, Turf

Overview: The question in this race is: Who can beat Chad Brown? The trainer has four of the ten starters. My inclination is to say that no one is beating Chad Brown, although could he beat himself? The favorite Bricks and Mortar is currently leading the NTRA’s Top Thoroughbred Poll off four straight wins dating back to last year, but his margin of victory in those races is razor-thin in aggregate — 1/2, nose, 2 1/2, 1/2, so there’s little room for error with this horse, as good as he is. You could single him with fair confidence in the Pick 5, but if you like a single elsewhere, I would absolutely try to beat him because he will be singled on so many tickets. These horses are logical alternatives:

Olympico (6-1): Raced in France prior to a three-length win at Belmont in the G3 Fort Marcy Stakes on Derby day, producing an excellent figure. Turf was soft that day, so a firm turf could be an issue but he closed into a tepid pace and should be considered a dangerous contender to upset for yes, Brown and jockey Kendrick Carmouche.

Qurbaan (8-1): Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, ridden by Mike Smith, this son of Speightstown was just a half-length behind Bricks and Mortar in the Turf Classic at Churchill Downs last out. Since arriving in America, he hasn’t missed the board in six starts, all graded stakes. Hard to ignore, at least for exotics.

Robert Bruce (6-1): Also trained by Brown, he comes out of the Fort Marcy, too, but that was his first start since finishing way behind Enable in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. Last year’s Arlington Million winner could rebound in his second start of 2019.

Channel Maker (9-2): This is one of those horses who frustrates the heck out of me. Bet him, he loses. Don’t, he wins. He’s won his last two at Belmont, including the Man ‘o War last out on May 11 by a neck. If you have room on your ticket, include him. If not, well, cross your fingers.

Race 11, Belmont Stakes, 1 1/2 Miles, 3-Year-Olds

Overview: The Belmont is always considered a pedigree race, a jockey’s race and that remains true to some extent. But with fewer horses really having true 12-furlong breeding these days, recently it’s become about horses that have tactical speed who can relax and get into rhythm, who might also have the aforementioned attributes. I will narrow the field of ten into four I particularly like. Not discounting War of Will, but he might succumb to the grind of all three Triple Crown races, so he’s not included here:

Tacitus (9-5): With sire Tapit’s recent success in this race and the positive results of Derby horses skipping the Preakness, one has to give this colt his due to win the Belmont. But he’s the favorite, and since 2005 only two favorites have won the Belmont (the two Triple Crown winners), so the odds are unappealing.

Intrepid Heart (10-1): He’s only run three times, winning two and placing third in the Peter Pan Stakes, but his breeding screams the distance. Also a son of Tapit, his dam produced 2014 runner-up Commissioner and her sire, Touch Gold, won the Belmont in 1997. Changing equipment for a 12-furlong race isn’t ideal, but he’s been so distracted in previous races, blinkers-on here is probably just a necessity. If that helps him relax, he could run a big one.

Spinoff (15-1): Trainer Todd Pletcher said he hated the off-track in the Derby. Prior to that, he was on the improve and is training like he’s ready to roll. I liked him in Kentucky, aside from the outside post, so I’ll stick with him as a Palice Malice-like contender for Pletcher; he has tactical speed and if he can relax with his new jockey Javier Castellano, no reason he can’t surprise, even though his breeding  suggests the distance is a stretch.

Tax (15-1): Willing to toss his 15-length Derby defeat; otherwise, hit the board in all five previous starts, including second to favorite Tacitus in the Wood. Irad Ortiz, Jr. gets aboard. Seems a logical outsider that could upset.

And finally in the spirit of this crazy Triple Crown season, I’ll also mention Joevia (30-1). You might stick him on your ticket if you can afford it, just because he may get the lead, it is the Belmont Stakes and yeah, Da’Tara (38-1) went gate to wire in 2008.

Best of luck in the NYRA Bets Pick 5!

The post Jagow: Thoughts On NYRA Bets’ Late Pick 5 For Belmont Card appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

DYFD Winter - 300x90

Comments are closed.