Friday marks the second day of the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival and we have five stakes on tap including the $250,000 True North (G2).
A field of 10 line up in the True North led by the comebacking Catalina Cruiser, the 5-2 morning line favorite. The John Sadler trainee makes his first start since running sixth in last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1), his first career defeat.
He won his first four career starts including the San Diego Handicap (G2) and the Pat O’Brien (G2) at Del Mar.
The Ron Moquette trained Whitmore is looking to bounce back off a fifth-place finish in the Churchill Downs (G1) last out on Kentucky Derby undercard. The gelding had a big 2018, landing in the exacta in seven of eight starts, his wins including the Forego (G1) at Saratoga.
I am going to seek a bit more value and settled on Strike Power (8-1), who is coming off a gate to wire score against optional claimers at Gulfstream Park in his last outing.
The stakes action on Friday starts with the $250,000 Bed O’ Roses (G3) for fillies and mares going seven furlongs on the main track. Skipat winner Chalon is the 2-1 morning line favorite for trainer Arnold Delacour.
The $150,000 Tremont drew eight although the Wesley Ward trained Maven, the 7-5 morning line favorite will scratch. Ward will saddle recent maiden winner Dixie Mo (10-1).
The $600,000 New York (G2) is led by the Chad Brown trained Homerique (6-5) who won the Beaugay (G3) in her U.S. debut. The 1 ¼ mile race drew a field of eight fillies and mares.
The final stake on Friday’s card at Belmont Park is the $400,000 Belmont Gold Cup (G2) at two miles on turf. Overseas invaders have won this race the last two years and there are three making the trip this year.
Among those Raa Atoll (6-1) may be the best of the trio. He won a Group 2 in Germany at two-miles in his last outing which was off a 10-month layoff.
Let’s head out to Belmont Park for Friday’s featured race of the day:
BEL Race 8 The Truth North G2 (4:42 ET)
#5 Strike Power 8-1
#7 Whitmore 7-2
#3 Catalina Cruiser 5-2
#8 Do Share 5-1
The Mark Hennig trainee ran huge off the bench last out at Gulfstream Park, setting sharp early fractions and taking the field gate to wire to beat Alw-2 optional claimers going 6 1/2 furlongs. This guy showed a ton of ability early on, popping a 102 Beyer in his debut and then winning the Swale (G3) second out. After a second in the ’18 Fountain of Youth (G2) things went downhill, beaten double digit lengths in his next four starts, all in stakes company. The colt owns solid early and mid pace numbers and there is plenty of other early zip signed up. If he does not regress in this tougher spot, he can be in the mix here at a decent price.
The gelding acted up in the gate, stalked the early pace and just did not show his usual punch in the stretch in a fifth-place finish in the Churchill Downs (G1). He had earned triple digit Beyers in 8 of his previous 10 outings. He suffered a couple of tough beats here last year, neck losses in the True North (G2) and Belmont Sprint (G2). He is better than he showed last out and reunites with Santana, his regular rider.
The lightly raced five-year-old came into last year’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) undefeated and was sent off at 4-5, but I thought he was an underlay that day and it paid off as we went with City of Light while he faded to finish a well beaten sixth. Tough to know what we are going to see out of this guy here off the bench. The Sadler barn is 23% winners (with a +ROI) with runners coming back off a +180-day layoff. He reportedly has been working sharply but tough to take him at his 5-2 morning line or lower.
WIN: #5 to win at 6-1 or better.
EX: 5,7 / 3,5,7,8
TRI: 5,7 / 3,5,7,8 / 3,5,7,8,10