Belmont Day Pick 4 Picks and Analysis

8- Just A Game, 8f, 2:58

Oh my, what a way to begin the Pick 4 sequence. One could justify using as many as nine in this wide open affair. There’s an interesting mix of pace types cutting back to a more ideal distance alongside a bunch of deep closers who may need more. While we’ll lean towards the former, fillies like CELESTINE and LA BERMA should ensure an honest pace up front while taking steps up in class, so the closers aren’t completely out of this. For the top selection, RECEPTA appeals most. She enters third off the lay, and cuts back in distance following a 3rd place finish in her last at 8.5f, where she lost all chance after clipping heels at the start. She’s been working well, posting a 4f bullet on June 4th, and should be well-positioned mid-pack from her ground-saving post; appears to split the difference tactically in a race where race shape advantages aren’t readily apparent. She’s won twice at Belmont and has only missed the board once in six career starts over this track. If she can run back to the 103 Brisnet Speed Figure she posted here last September at this distance, the field high, she seems to be the one to beat. If she doesn’t fire here, things get cloudier. TAPITRY ran quite well when 2nd in her last, defeating the top selection for place honors. She actually held the lead at the 8f mark in that race, and should appreciate the cutback in distance. Improving filly gets a jockey switch to the red hot Flourent Geroux, has been working well, and may be ready to peak in her third start off the lay at long odds. MY MISS SOPHIA disappointed when 5th as our single in the same race as the top two selections, but was coming off a long layoff, and perhaps needed it, as she ran rank on the lead setting fractions quicker than she needed to. Her workouts leave a bit to be desired but her tactical speed and class make her a looming threat every time out. Trainer Bill Mott wins with 20% of his starters second off the lay, and the price will be right on this occasion. Deep closers FAUFILER and RAINHA DE BATERIA are in receipt of a considerable weight break and figure to attract attention, but appear underlays at their morning line odds based on relative form and speed figures. If we are forced to use a closer, we’d rather have a mare who has shown success at this track and has stronger back class. LADY LARA shows the second highest Brisnet Speed Figure at the distance (102) from a win here last September and figures to be a bit more forwardly placed than the aforementioned closers. Her first two starts of the year have been huge steps back in terms of form, but she’s been working well and perhaps Mott has her ready to roll in this spot. That means being against favored MRS MCDOUGAL, who seems a massive underlay in this spot, having never run a Brisnet Speed Figure above 95, coming off an eight week layoff, and stepping up in class. The attention she’s receiving is likely a result of beating STRIKE CHARMER last out. That one defeated each of our top three selections in her last, so what gives? The feeling here is that she needed the extra distance last out and won’t benefit from the cutback as much. Her rail post, drawn inside the speed, is also a negative. Can’t bet them all…

Picks:

1) Recepta 6-1

2) Tapitry 15-1

3) My Miss Sophia 8-1

4) Lady Lara 15-1

 

9- Met Mile, 8f, 3:41

CALCULATOR fits this race like a glove at a very attractive price. After hitting the board in all four of his 2016 starts at 7f following a lengthy layoff due to injury, he finally gets to stretch out to the more suitable 8f distance, in which he won last year’s Sham at Santa Anita before being sidelined. Take a look at his 2nd place finish in the Carter two back over the slop. He defeated ANCHOR DOWN handily in that race, and then that one came back to post a field high Brisnet Speed Figure of 108 in his last, again over the slop. One could think this points toward the top selection as an off-track specialist, but he was a hard closing second in his last over a fast track in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs, missing by just a length and begging for more ground. He’s been working like a monster, posting a bullet 5f work in :58.0 on June 4th, and trainer Peter Miller wins with 30% of his runners over the past three years going from sprints to routes. The distance in which he bested ANCHOR DOWN seems to give him a form edge over STANFORD and BLOFELD, who will both take money as well, given how close ANCHOR DOWN was to those two in the Gulfstream Park Hcp at this distance. NOBLE BIRD must be respected coming off his wire to wire destruction of the Pimlico Special field, posting a Brisnet Figure of 117 that simply towers over all of these. He gets an extreme cutback from 10.5f to 8f, but figures to be dangerous on the lead once again in a field that isn’t exactly loaded with speed. AMI’S FLATTER has experienced quite the career resurgence, winning two of his last three at 7f and increasing his lead into the stretch, posting Brisnet Speed Figues of 106 and 105 respectively. Aside from the top selection, only BLOFELD has shown two consecutive 100+ Brisnet Speed Figures, and having won the aforementioned Gulfstream Park Hcp at this distance and cutting back from a 9f race, seems a logical contender. It’s worth wondering how well-suited this distance will be for favored FROSTED, a personal favorite. Coming off a trip to Dubai and two longer races, he cuts back to a distance that may be well short of ideal for him. He’s a versatile type that can be placed anywhere, but has never shown blazing speed, and may be worth beating on top as the favorite here.

Picks:

1) Calculator 10-1

2) Noble Bird 9-2

3) Ami’s Flatter 6-1

4) Blofeld 10-1

 

10- Manhattan, 10f, 4:37

It is very difficult to get around favored FLINTSHIRE here, so we won’t even try, as he appears the best option for a single in the sequence. He makes his first start of the year but has run well off layoffs before, and his Group 1 Euro form outclasses the field in this one. In his last US start, he posed a 116 Brisnet Speed Figure when winning the 12f Sword Dancer, a number that simply towers over these. His last six races have come at the 12f distance but we don’t mind the cutback here off the lay, especially considering he figures to be more forwardly placed than his most likely challengers in a race that doesn’t look heavy on pace. He also receives first time Lasix, which is a scary proposition. The 1-2 finishers from last year’s contest return here both second off the lay and both at the age of 8, and of the two, we give the slight edge to SLUMBER based on his current form and workout patterns. He wasn’t disgraced when rallying for third at a distance shorter than this in his season debut. He was aided by a fast pace that day which he isn’t likely to see here, but should enjoy the added ground as this a distance he has relished in the past; he’s 5 for 10 lifetime at 10f and has never won at any other distance. He fired a bullet 5f work here on 6/4 and should be ready to move forward. BIG BLUE KITTEN appeared a step slower in his debut and hasn’t been working as sharply, but does own the best speed figures in the field at this distance as well as a 12 point Bris Prime Power advantage, and can’t be easily dismissed. There’s a new Kitten in town, and that’s DIVISIDERO, who beat many of these last out in the 9f Turf Classic. This will be his first try at 10f, but he didn’t look to be done running in that win. The concern for them is whether that race, coming third off the lay, was his peak, and whether he can duplicate his closing punch on the stretchout. He was also aided by the quick fractions up front that day. A colt who could make the opposite argument is WORLD APPROVAL, who hung on gamely for 2nd in that race and deserves a look at short odds as the likely pacesetter from the rail in a race where no one appears to be gunning for the lead. Questions remain about his ability to handle the added ground, however, so it will come down to how much pressure he sees from the likes of GRAND TITO and TAKE THE STAND, who also appear to be distance challenged. IRONICUS will be well-backed in the wagering and deserves respect as he also stretches out to 10f for the first time in his second race since returning from injury, but looms a potential underlay off his last, which was extremely light in terms of figures relative to these.

Picks:

1) Flintshire 8-5

2) Slumber 10-1

3) Big Blue Kitten 6-1

4) Divisidero 8-1

 

11- Belmont, 12f, 5:37

The prevailing train of thought regarding the marathon 12f distance of this final leg of the Triple Crown is that closers are at a disadvantage and that handicappers should focus in on horses that show a combination of tactical speed and pedigree for the distance. We’ve always played against this angle when appropriate, as the connections of so-called “deep” closers are well aware of the dangers of dropping back too many lengths off a slow pace and instruct their riders accordingly. Birdstone, for example, was only four lengths off the lead turning for home when he spoiled Smarty Jones’ bid for the Triple Crown. For this reason, we will lean towards the colt that showed the most powerful closing kick in the Kentucky Derby, and who figures to be more forwardly placed than he was in that race. That’s SUDDENBREAKINGNEWS, who made up 7 lengths in the stretch to finish 5th in that race after dropping back some 27 lengths off the pace, coming home in his final 1/4 in an eye-popping :24.3, the fastest of any colt that day. We won’t want to see him that far back in this race, but he’s showed ability to race closer to the lead in the past; he actually had the lead at the first call when breaking his maiden, and was never further back than 5 lengths when winning his first stakes as a 2 year old. The rider switch to Mike Smith should ensure a more tactical position. From a pedigree aspect, a fun angle to look at is the fact that both his grandsires, Afleet Alex and A.P. Indy, won this race, and he’s only the third starter since 2010 that can make that claim. (The last one, Commissioner, ran the best race of his life here at long odds and just missed the win). From a class standpoint, EXAGGERATOR still looms extremely large off his Preakness score, and with the possibility of rain again in the forecast, he’s a must use in multi-race wagers and on top of verticals. He’s one of just two colts to contest each of the three Triple Crown races, but fatigue is not an angle that we find applicable here, as Curlins tend to just get stronger and stronger with more races. Searching for a horse with a combination of front-running speed and pedigree, you could do worse than landing on DESTIN. He ran a deceptively good Derby despite running off an unprecedented 8 week layoff, and actually closed ground in the stretch to finish 6th. Todd Pletcher has been very successful in this race over time, and with that race under him he comes in fresh with some bottom, and should be expected to improve. A ground saving trip from the rail should find him very much in the mix late as he is bred to run all day. The same connections that spoiled California Chrome’s Triple Crown bid with Tonalist (Christophe Clement and Joel Rosario) are here with GOVERNOR MALIBU, who enters off a similar patter as that one did, using the 9f Peter Pan over this track as a prep. His combination of tactical speed and closing pace numbers make him dangerous here at a price. He’s the only runner in the field to show triple digit Brisnet Late Pace numbers in all of his last three starts. The issue with actually supporting him for the win is the combination of the class jump and the fact that he doesn’t really stack up on figures, with only a 94 Beyer to his credit.

BRODY’S CAUSE makes a lot of sense here from a pedigree standpoint and sure seems like a big overlay at his 20-1 Morning Line. He actually closed the second fastest in the Derby behind the top selection, making up 5 lengths in the stretch to finish a respectable 7th. The negative with him continues to be his seeming lack of speed, as he’s still never topped a 94 Beyer and seems to have leveled off there. He’s difficult to support on top unless he improves. LANI was another who was closing into the lead in the Derby, and didn’t run a bad Preakness when 5th. Still, he’s contested all of the Triple Crown races, and it’s possible that fatigue will catch up to him here especially ¬†considering how hard he’s been training, although it would be no surprise to see him crash the bottom of the superfecta. Last time out was probably the time to be on CHERRY WINE, who wheels back quickly here and may have pedigree limitations based on the bottom of his pedigree. CREATOR threw in a real clunker in the Derby and is rested here, but remains somewhat of a mystery. With so many closers entered here and the many negatives such runners encounter in this race to begin with, there are simply others we like better. STRADIVARI ran on well for 4th in the Preakness but is possibly the biggest underlay of the entire year at 5-1 and second choice on the morning line. His Late Pace figures are among the field’s worst, and nothing about his pedigree seems to indicate that this distance will be to his liking. Toss.

Picks:

1) Suddenbreakingnews 10-1

2) Exaggerator 9-5

3) Destin 6-1

4) Governor Malibu 12-1

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