The Christophe Clement trained Therapist leads a competitive field of eight that will go seven furlongs on the turf in the $100,000 Elusive Quality at Belmont Park on Saturday.
The gelding won the race in 2019 off the bench and has won five of his 10 trips over the Belmont Park turf including winning the First Defence last June, also coming back off the bench.
“He loves Belmont, obviously, so we put him away in Ocala for the winter,” said Clement assistant Christophe Lorieul. “He came back to training at Payson Park in March and I like the way he’s been. He’s one who does better when you space his races out, and he runs well fresh. It doesn’t take much work for him to get ready.”
The gelding will break from the four post with jockey Eric Cancel in the irons and is the 7-2 third choice on the morning line.
The 2-1 morning line favorite is the Chad Brown trained Front Run the Fed, who makes his first start since running sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) last November. He has a pair of wins and a second in his three trips over the Belmont Park turf.
Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint Replay
Brown will also saddle Value Proposition (4-1), who makes his first start since checking in eighth in the Woodbine Mile (G1) last September.
The Bill Mott trained Casa Creed is the 3-1 second choice on the morning line. The five-year-old was sixth beaten 1 ¼ lengths in the Frank Kilroe (G1) at Santa Anita in his last outing on March 6.
My Best Plays Report for Saturday will include my strongest plays from Aqueduct and Churchill Downs. FS2 will broadcast “Americas Day at the Races” from 1:00 ET to 11:00 on Saturday. First post at Churchill Downs on Saturday is 6:00 ET.
Let’s head out to Belmont Park for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Belmont Park Race 8 The Elusive Quality 4:47 ET
4 Therapist 7-2
6 Front Run the Fed 2-1
1 Value Proposition 4-1
3 Casa Creed 3-1
The six-year-old makes his first start since November where the gelding was off a beat slow and made a good late run to finish fourth over good ground at Aqueduct going six furlongs in the Turf Sprint Championship. This guy always runs fresh, winning this race in 2019 off a four-month break and winning the First Defence here last June off a 7 ½ month layoff. He has won three of his four trips at seven furlongs and has prepped at Payson in Florida for the Clement barn that is 17% winners with runners coming back off a 61–180-day layoff.
Front End the Fed
The Brown trainee makes his first start since a sixth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) last November at Keeneland over good ground. He was away at the back of the pack, was caught in some traffic and finished up well when clear for sixth, beaten 2 ½ lengths. Three runners have come out of the race to win stakes in their next outings. Two back this guy earned a career top speed fig in a deadheat for the runner up spot in the Turf Sprint on yielding ground at Kentucky Downs, beaten just a neck. He is perfect in his two trips at seven furlongs, and they have both come over the grass here. He has worked sharply on turf at Payson for his 2021 debut for Brown who is 27% winners (with a +ROI) with runners coming back off a 61–180-day break. He looks solid here although his price may end up on the light side.
This ridgling is also sent out by Brown. He makes his first start since an eighth-place finish in the Woodbine Mile (G1) last out. He ran well two back in a third-place finish as the beaten favorite in the Poker (G3) and was a sharp winner here versus Alw-2 optional claims three back with a career top speed fig. This is his first trip at seven furlongs, but he has shown enough tactical speed it looks as if he should be able to handle the cut back. He reunites with Irad who was aboard him for his last two wins. Brown is solid off the bench and this guy fits with his best.