The rains from Tropical Storm Andrea will taper off early Saturday morning and we might see a little sunshine for Belmont Stakes Day, with five graded stakes on tap on an outstanding betting card that should make for some good wagering opportunities.
The feature of course is the $1 million Belmont Stakes (G1), which will be lacking in Triple Crown drama, but anytime you line up the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner and another dozen runners, it makes for a good betting race.
Kentucky Derby winner Orb is the 3-1 morning line favorite, looking to bounce back off his fourth place finish in the Preakness, which was won by Oxbow in gate to wire fashion.
Seven runners that competed in the Derby but bypassed the Preakness are back in action including the Derby runner up and third place finishers Golden Soul and Revolutionary.
Two other runners that will garner some attention at the betting windows are Peter Pan (G2) winner Freedom Child and the filly Unlimited Budget, who won her first four career starts before checking in third in the Kentucky Oaks in her last outing.
Here is a quick look at the graded stakes action that will lead up to the third jewel of the Triple Crown:
$400,000 True North Handicap (G2)
The Zayat Stables entry of Justin Phillip and Fast Bullet are the 7-5 morning line favorite in the field of seven. Justin Phillip is coming off a victory in the Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) at Oaklawn Park while entrymate Fast Bullet sports a 109 Beyer earned beating $62,500 optional claimers at Hollywood Park in his last outing in December.
$500,000 Just a Game (G1)
A field of seven will line up and five are Grade 1 winners. The main question mark is how these gals will handle the condition of the turf course which figures to be either yielding or soft. The west coast invader Mizdirection has won nine of her 12 starts on turf but has never raced on the type of footing she will see today. (My selections and analysis for this race are below).
$400,000 Woody Stephens (G2)
This is one of the best betting races on the card as a field of 11 three-year-olds will line up to go seven furlongs on the main track. The Adam Kitchingham trained Let Em Shine is the 3-1 morning line favorite, coming in from the west coast off a win in the Came Home. The colt has not been tested in his last three starts and earned a 109 Beyer in his last outing. Todd Pletcher will send out Forty Tales and Capo Bastone, who were separated by just a neck in the Derby Trial (G3) in their last starts.
$500,000 Manhattan Handicap (G1)
Point of Entry looks like a standout and is the 3-5 morning line favorite. The Shug McGaughey trainee won five of seven starts last year including three straight Grade 1 races before running second in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) to Little Mike. The five-year-old started off his ’13 campaign by winning the Gulfstream Park Handicap (G1). McGaughey scratched him out of the Woodward Reserve Turf Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs on Derby Day because of the yielding conditions, but has indicated he will run today regardless of the condition of the turf course.
My Best Plays Report for Saturday will include my strongest plays from Belmont Park and Churchill Downs.
Let’s head out to Belmont Park for Saturday’s featured betting race of the day:
Belmont Park Race 8 The Just a Game G1 (Post time 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
Michael’s Report includes his selections, analysis, fair odds line, and wagering recommendations for the entire Belmont Stakes Day card. The third jewel of the Triple Crown features an outstanding day of horse betting. The supporting stakes include the $500,000 Manhattan Handicap (G1), $500,000 Longines Just a Game (G1), $400,000 True North Handicap (G2) and the $400,000 Woody Stephens (G2).