A competitive field of 11 will line up in the $400,000 Hill Prince (G2) at Belmont Park on Saturday led by the Todd Pletcher trained Never Surprised.
The Hill Prince is one of two graded stakes on the 10-race card at Belmont Park. The co-feature is the $200,000 Noble Damsel (G3) for fillies and mares that drew nine along with one main track only entrant.
Never Surprised (5-1) is making his second start off the bench for Pletcher. The colt set the early fractions and could not hold off Public Sector in a runner up finish in the Saranac (G3).
“I thought he ran really well off the layoff. It was a strong race and he put in a good effort,” Pletcher said. “I think he’ll be able to move forward second time off the layoff. He’s been working really well since then. He doesn’t seem to mind any kind of ground. The main thing is being able to settle a little bit.”
Public Sector is the 5-2 morning line favorite. The colt is one of three in the field sent out by trainer Chad Brown, who won this race with Takeover Target in 2015 and Camelot Kitten in 2016. The colt has landed in the exacta in seven of his eight career starts. The lone miss was his 12th place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) last year at Keeneland.
Public Sector Wins Saranac
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Brown’s other two runners are Saranac fifth place finisher Founder (10-1) and Sifting Sands (8-1), who won the Better Talk Now as our top pick last out at Saratoga, returning $18.80.
In the Noble Damsel, Tamahere is the 9-5 morning line favorite. The Brown trainee won the Violet over yielding ground at Monmouth Park in her last outing earning a career best 104 Beyer Speed Figure. She won the Sands Point (G2) over the Belmont Park turf in her U.S. debut last October.
Let’s head out to Belmont Park for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Belmont Park Race 9 The Hill Prince G2 4:52 ET
10 Never Surprised 5-1
9 Public Sector 5-2
11 Soldier Rising 3-1
2 Slicked Back 8-1
The Pletcher trainee is making his second start off a seven month layoff. He returned off the bench in the Saranac (G3) at 1 1/16 miles where he set the early fractions and could not go with Public Sector in a runner up finish, beaten a length for the top spot. The colt broke his maiden in his debut going six furlongs at Aqueduct last November and then won the Central Park going a route of ground. The runner up in that race was Hard Love who won the Woodhaven in his next start. Next up for our top pick was a runner up finish in the Kitten’s Joy (G3) as the chalk. In that outing he was taken back to track the early pace while keen and in between foes and finished up well, beaten two lengths. He owns a couple of bullet works since his return effort and should move forward in his second start off the bench. He reunites with Carmouche who was aboard for his first two career starts. By Constitution out of a Tiznow mare, he should be able to handle nine furlongs.
The colt tracked the early pace while saving ground, angled our four wide for the stretch drive and bested our top pick by a length in the Saranac at 6-5. The colt won the Hall of Fame (G2) two back and was beaten just a head three back in the Manila. He ran well over the grass here as a juvenile, running second in the Pilgrim (G2) in his first start against winners. This is his first trip at nine furlongs but has the pedigree to get the added ground. He is by Kingman out of a Montyjeu mare. Brown won this race last in 2016 with Camelot Kitten.
This gelding has finished second in both starts since landing in the U.S. with Clement. He came back off a three-month break to rally for the runner up spot in the Saratoga Derby Invitational (G1). Last out in the Jockey Club Derby Invitational here he tracked the early pace and had to settle for second behind the Charlie Appleby trained Yirbir who was making his U.S. debut. That outing was at 1 1/4 miles and he should appreciate the cut back to 1 1/8 miles here. While Irad sticks with our second choice this gelding picks up Rosario which looks like a plus to us.
WIN: Never Surprised to win at 7-2 or better.
EXACTA: 10 / 2,9,11 and 9,10 / 9,10,11