Belmont Day Picks

Race 8- Just A Game, 8f, 3:59

1- Tapitsfly (3-1): Chased hot pace three wide last out in 8f Churchill Distaff Mile after losing to pacesetter behind soft fractions in previous, led in stretch and caught late by Hungry Island by one length. Won the 8f Honey Fox in March from off the pace, versatile. May enjoy ground-saving trip on the lead with easy fractions here.

2- Sylvestris (20-1): Steps up in class, won last out in optional claimer a 7f from off the pace.

3- Wallis (15-1): Layoff since January, when she finished 8th in Stakes company behind some of these, fading after setting a rank early pace. Was better stalking the pace last year in 8f Spice Island Stakes win, so we’ll see where she places herself.

4- Winter Memories (6-5): Second off a long layoff, was impressive last out, winning the 8.5f Beaugay, closing into a soft pace. Sports a win over Hungry Island last year at 8.5f. Grade I winner figures to be sharp and flying late.

5- Hungry Island (5-2): Collared Tapitsfly from off the pace last out at 8f, but had a hot pace to sit behind. Always fires but may not have such an ideal set up this time. Off-the-pace runner will need a lot of speed up front and I don’t see that here, but field high 98 Beyer merits inclusion.

6- Dancinginherdreams (12-1): Had a rough trip two back in Stakes company, but closed from off the pace to win in most recent start versus optional claimers.

7- Up In Time (12-1): Didn’t show much last time out but was a game 2nd preceding that start at 8f, gaining late in Stakes Company. Was off the board in other two 2012 starts before that.

Place Bet on TAPITSFLY
Use TAPITSFLY, WINTER MEMORIES, HUNGRY ISLAND in Pick 4

Race 9- Woody Stephens, 7f, 4:43

1- Hierro (5-2): Stalked to win Derby Trial at 8f over a sloppy track in last outing, but was off the board in two 2012 starts preceding it. May have benefitted from the surface? Draws inside the speed here and may encounter a tough trip, worth trying to beat at this distance as the favorite despite 103 Beyer in longer race.

2- Hardened Wildcat (12-1): Beaten at this distance by three foes he’ll see today in his last two efforts, but pace scenario should be to his advantage, live at a price.

3- Il Vallano (12-1): Rated just off the pace in last race, winning at 6f against lesser. Had trouble holding on when setting the pace in two before that at longer distances, and draws inside the main speed, but could settle off and surprise if speed falls back.

4- Brian (20-1): Consistent and improving, but takes a leap in class here. Couldn’t reel in Currancy Swap from off the pace in last.

5- Bourbon Courage (5-1): Lightly raced colt has a lot of upside, and may not have liked the slop in 4th place Derby Trial finish last out. He looked better in his first two career starts, winning from off the pace at 6f and posting back to back and ascending double digit Beyers (101, 103). Draws well and appears the main beneficiary of a pace meltdown.

6- Trinniberg (7-2): Bounces back to a more suitable distance after Kentucky Derby disaster. Has two 7f Stakes wins to his credit, had it his way in both, but his pure speed is tops here and cannot be denied.

7- Power World (8-1): Second race off a long layoff, he was victorious in his only 2012 start in allowance company. Will be part of the speed duel here, but was beaten easily by both Trinniberg and Currency Swap in last year’s 7f Hopeful (He did finish ahead of I’ll Have Another in that race, however!)

8- Isn’t He Clever (8-1): Likely a talented colt with a touch more distance, he’ll shorten up here against a barrage of speedy foes after a close loss in the Sunland Derby to Daddy Nose Best followed by an Arkansas Derby disaster. Layoff since that race in April should help, but I like others better.

9- Currency Swap (8-1): Stakes winner in last 7f outing running on the lead. Throw out his Illinois Derby, where he was bumped soundly and taken completely out of contention, and there’s a lot to like. Wasn’t disgraced in an 8f runner-up finish to Gemologist, and his 7f Hopeful win over the speedy Trinniberg is an eye-catcher. Draws outside the speed.

10- Laurie’s Rocket (20-1): No match for Il Vallano last out at 6f, and generally speaking takes a huge class leap here.

Place Bet on BOURBON COURAGE

Use BOURBON COURAGE, TRINNIBERG, CURRENCY SWAP, IL VALANNO in Pick 4

Race 10- Woodford Reserve Manhattan, 10f, 5:37

1- Omayad (12-1): Successful Chilean invader rallied gamely to finish 2nd in allowance company in US debut. Class questions, however. An intriguing longshot nonetheless.

2- Boisterous (7-2): Rebounded form in winning last start at 8.5f, driving home through the stretch, and should benefit from the added distance here. Was victorious at 11f in Stakes company last year and has won 3 of last 4 on this track, but has yet to post a win over any strong competition. Always in the mix, and dangerous.

3- Al Khali (10-1): After betting on him in several races during his 2010 and 2011 campaigns, I’ve stayed away recently and have been better off for it. Last place finish in last effort doesn’t make me want to change that strategy, as it appears his best years may be behind him.

4- Desert Blanc (6-1): Has run well against some decent competition in France, but couldn’t get past Boisterous in the stretch of his US debut. Will be coming from off the pace, and does carry the low weight.

5- Papaw Bodie (8-1): Late-runner wasn’t disgraced in 2nd place finish in the 9f Muniz Memorial, posting a competitive 97 Beyer in that race. 6th place finish last out in the Turf Classic against top company wasn’t so bad either, as he made up 8 lengths in the stretch despite not having any pace to run at. More distance here could help his chances in a similarly paceless race.

6- Brilliant Speed (3-1): Classy 4-year old comes into his third race off a layoff here, and gets added distance that should suit him. His most recent race was also his best, closing well to finish 3rd with an unexpected lack of pace to run at in the Turf Classic. Ignore his 5th place finish at 8f, well short of his ideal distance, and you get the feeling of a horse that has been geared toward this spot since last fall. He was actually winning the Breeders’ Cup Turf last year at the 10f mark.

7- Hudson Steele (5-2): Lone speed on turf is always dangerous, but morning line favorite stretches out here on short rest, and I’m willing to bet the extra distance catches up with him regardless of how easy his lead is. Field high 99 Beyer in 9f Dixie Stakes three weeks back will draw some action but I will try to beat him in this spot.

8- Top Surprize (30-1): Easily beaten 3rd to Boisterous and Desert Blanc in last outing, was only 2012 start. 30-1 is probably a bit higher than he deserves in a field this short, but it’s tough to find an angle for him.

Place Bet on BRILLIANT SPEED and PAPAW BODIE

Use BRILLIANT SPEED, BOISTEROUS in Pick 4

Race 11- Belmont, 12f, 6:40

1- Street Life (6-1): Late runner was coming hard behind a fast pace in Peter Pan. Running style fits, but setup is unlikely to be as favorable here, and his family of runners has not been successful in this race.

2- Unstoppable U (30-1): Takes a big step up in class, as do several of these. Does have an easy win over another starter here in his last outing.

3- Union Rags (5-2): We’re still waiting for a clean trip and an improved effort after two straight losses this year. He’ll be fresh with five weeks off since the Derby and should be placed more forwardly, but I still think he is more of an 8f-9f type and this distance will be extremely taxing.

4- Atigun (15-1): Appears way outclassed after 5th place finish in Arkansas Derby, and has yet to make it into the superfecta in any Stakes attempts.

5- Dullahan (2-1): Has been training lights out at Belmont and is fresh after solid 3rd place effort in the Derby. He’s proven he can handle dirt and pass horses in the stretch, and this distance should suit him well. Picked him 2nd in the Derby and sticking with him here.

6- Ravelo’s Boy (50-1): He is seasoned, with 13 career starts, and must be here for a reason? Would have to break out of current form to factor.

7- Five Sixteen (50-1): Another that appears way in over his head, with just a maiden win to his credit in six career starts racing against subpar company.

8- Guyana Star Dweej (50-1): Yikes.

9- Paynter (4-1): With I’ll Have Another’s defection, he boasts easily the strongest distance pedigree in the field, and with only four career starts has a ton of potential upside. His fourth place finish in the Santa Anita Derby was flattered by how key that race turned out to be, and the 106 Beyer he posted in his last race, an 8.5f allowance win, is far and away tops in this field. Main concern is that he stretches out considerably here, but based on pedigree he should handle it.

10- Optimizer (20-1): Running him here borders on abuse after 11th place finish in Derby and 6th place finish in Preakness. He has got to be exhausted, and now gets to run a marathon as a reward.

12- My Adonis (15-1): Was in the mix early, with solid showings hitting the board in the Holy Bull and the Gotham Stakes, but has regressed in last two starts. Worth consideration for the superfecta based on his prior form.

Win bet on DULLAHAN

Exacta Box DULLAHAN, PAYNTER

Use DULLAHAN, PAYNTER in Pick 4

Superfecta DULLAHAN, PAYNTER/ DULLAHAN, PAYNTER, UNION RAGS/ DULLAHAN, PAYNTER, UNION RAGS, STREET LIFE/ DULLAHAN, PAYNTER, UNION RAGS, STREET LIFE, MY ADONIS

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