2021 Belmont Gold Cup Day: Best Bets, Exotics & More for Friday, June 4
Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images.
Welcome to Belmont Stakes Weekend. While horseplayers certainly can’t wait to dig into the festivities on Saturday, there’s also plenty of world-class racing on Saturday, including the 2021 Belmont Gold Cup.
With rain on Wednesday, Thursday and some forecasted for Friday morning, expect the turf course to be listed as good at best. With that out of the way, let’s dig in and see if we can’t find some winners to pad our bankroll ahead of Belmont Stakes Day.
Post: 4:07 p.m. ET
The Grade 2 True North is the first graded stakes race of the day. It is for horses four years old and up and will be run over the main track at six-and-a-half furlongs.
The pace will be set by No. 4 American Power (8-1) and while going a half of furlong less than he has in his last four starts may benefit him, this is a jump up in class. If he doesn’t get any pace pressure, he could be dangerous.
No. 1 Firenze Fire (2-1) is the morning-line favorite. He’s the class of the field and is coming in off a win in the Grade 3 Runhappy last month right here at Belmont. That was also the first start of his six-year-old campaign and trainer Kelly Breen is 20% second off the bench.
Firenze Fire loves Belmont, with six wins and one second-place finish from nine career starts. His post position could be troublesome as he will need to work out a trip from the rail, but he keeps jockey Irad Oritz Jr. in the irons and that is good news as Irad has won three of his last five mounts aboard Firenze Fire. He’s one that you have to include in all vertical and horizontal wagers.
Just to Firenze Fire’s outside is No. 2 Flagstaff (5-2). Trained by John Sadler, Flagstaff has won his last two starts, both of which were graded stakes races. He is a stalking type and with American Power setting the pace, Flagstaff should be able to sit just off of him. Flagstaff will need jockey Joel Rosario keep Firenze Fire pinned down at the rail to have a chance in this one.
Sadler is 21% in graded stakes races and 22% with last-out winners and while Flagstaff has never raced at Big Sandy, he seems to be running the best races of his career. He’s my top pick in here.
The long play in this race is No. 7 Phat Man (6-1). Last time out he finished fifth to Flagstaff, but only by a length and a quarter. He had a troubled trip due to being in the one-hole; he had to wait for room at the top of the stretch and while I’m not sure it cost him the race, it definitely didn’t help him. At a nice price, with an outside post position and one of the best jocks in Joel Rosario, he’s definitely one to include.
Race 7 Bets
- Win: 2,7
- Exacta box: 1,2,7
- Pick 3: 1,2,7/5,8/2,4,5,6,11
Post: 4:40 p.m. ET
Next up is the Grade 3 Bed o’ Roses for Fillies and Mares, four years old and up, going seven furlongs over the main track.
No. 6 Chub Wagon (9-5) is the morning-line favorite. She’s coming in a perfect 6-for-6 in her career and appears to be the speed of the race. While she hasn’t done anything wrong, this is her first time facing graded stakes company and I’m not sold on the competition she faced her last two non-graded stakes races. I’m not going to let her beat me in my horizontal wagers, but she’s not my top pick and a vulnerable favorite.
My top pick is No. 8 Estilo Talentoso (9-2). She’s coming in off two huge performances finishing third last time out to Gamine and Sconsin, and finishing in a dead heat for second two back to Kimari. If she was able to hang with some of the toughest fillies and mares at huge prices, she should be able to win against this field of lesser. Her stalking style and outside post position will also allow her to run her race for jockey Javier Castellano.
One angle I always look for on Belmont weekend is horses who have performed well over the track and in this race that’s No. 5 Victim of Love (7-2). She is a perfect 2-for-2 over the Belmont oval and is coming in off a nice graded stakes victory here last month.
Victim of Love keeps jockey Joel Rosario in the irons, but will be facing tougher in here today than she did last time out.
Race 8 Bets
- Win: 8
- Exacta key box: 8/5,6
- Pick 3: 8/2,4,5,6,11/2,4,8,9
Post: 5:15 p.m. ET
Race 9 is the Grade 2 New York Stakes for Fillies and Mares four years old and up. It will be run over the turf course at a mile and a quarter. This is the deepest and toughest field of the day.
For those of you who have followed along with my picks over time, you know that I love No. 7 Mean Mary (9-2). She boasts a record of six wins and two seconds from nine career turf starts and is a perfect 1-for-1 at Belmont.
In her last race, she got an easy lead and was able to put away the competition under a hand ride through the stretch. While I do expect her get the lead in here, she will face pace pressure from a few others. As I mentioned at the top of the article, the moisture in the turf course is also going to play an impact. If they go too fast up front, it will be taxing, allowing the closers a chance. While I’ll be including her in my tickets, Mean Mary is not my top choice.
My top pick is No. 11 Mutamakina (15-1) for trainer Christophe Clement. Yes, you read that right, my top pick is 15-1 on the morning line. While this is a deep and talented field, I’m not sure why she is 15-1 and expect her to be shorter at post-time.
Clement is having an excellent Belmont meet, winning at a 28% clip and Mutamakina is coming in off a second-place finish in her first start as a five-year-old. It looked like she needed that start as she was up close on the backstretch, faded on the far turn and re-rallied to get up for second at the wire.
Clement wins at a 22% clip second off the layoff and Mutamakina has shown she can run regardless of the conditions, finishing in the money each of her last three starts, once over a firm turf course, once over a good turf course and once over a yielding turf course. She gets a jockey upgrade to Javier Castellano in here as well.
You know that trainer Chad Brown will always have a calvary of horses primed and ready to go on the big days in New York and this weekend is no different. He sends out No. 2 Virginia Joy (10-1) and No. 4 My Sister Nat (15-1) for this one. It is rare to see Brown’s horses at such big prices in a turf race.
Virigina Joy is making her second start in the US after being shipped over from Germany. She won what appears to be her prep race for today against allowance company over this turf course going the same distance at the end of April. She keeps Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard, too. Brown is winning at a 29% clip from 611 winners last time out and 28% second off the layoff. She appears to be primed and ready to go at a square price.
My Sister Nat didn’t get the pace she needs to run into last time and wasn’t able to close. She will get Jose Oritz back aboard and he has ridden her six times in the past, finishing first once and second five times. If she can get back to her form from last summer, she will be dangerous here at a huge price.
The morning-line favorite is No. 5 Harvey’s Lil Goil (3-1). She’s won her last start in the Grade 3 Beaugay right here at Belmont. That was her first start off the bench and while she hasn’t done anything wrong in her career, 3-1 is far too short of a price in this field to take. In her last five turf starts, she’s never missed the board, winning three and finishing second and third by a neck each time. She always seems to be in the mix and one to include, but in a field this deep you have to look for more value.
Just to her outside is No. 6 Civil Union (12-1) for trainer Shug McGaughey. The six-year-old daughter of War Front has five wins, one second and one third from 10 career tries on the turf and has three wins from four starts over the Belmont turf. Last out was the first start of her six-year-old campaign where she finished a disappointing fifth to Harvey’s Lil Goil. The pace that day was extremely slow, significantly diminishing the chances of Civil Union who tends to sit in a stalking position. There appears to be more pace in here, so if Civil Union can get back to her form from last year, she is a serious player at long odds.
Race 9 Bets
- Win: 11
- Exacta key box: 11/2,4,5,6
Post: 5:48 p.m. ET
We finish out the graded stakes action with a marathon on the turf. The Grade 2 Belmont Gold Cup is a two-mile event for four year olds and up.
Trainer Mike Maker always seems to have his horses queued up and ready to run for these marathon races on the turf. He sends out No. 2 Tide of the Sea (7-2), No. 4 Conviction Trade (10-1) and No. 9 Ajourneytofreedom (8-1). Of the three Maker horses, Conviction Trade is the one I like best.
Conviction Trade is the only horse in the field who has ever run a two-mile race, finishing second by three quarters of a length. He also has two wins and one third-place finish from five career starts over the Belmont turf. Jockey Irad Oritz Jr. will be in the irons and that is encouraging.
Tide of the Sea appears to be the pace of the field and while typically that’s not a bad thing, especially in these marathon races on the turf, his two worst finishes have come on non-firm turf courses.
Ajourneytofreedom is the closer of the three and with Tide of the Sea setting the pace, it appears he will get some speed to run into. While he hasn’t seen the winner’s circle since early 2020, he’s held his own and ran well against some stiff competition in his last four starts.
The biggest unknown is the morning-line favorite No. 8 Baron Samedi (8-5). He’s shipping over from Europe for trainer Joseph O’Brien, coming in off six consecutive victories dating back to last summer. While he’s shown a love for softer turf courses, it doesn’t appear that he’s faced competition like he will in here today. I’m not going to let him beat me, but at the price he’s not worth a win bet.
Race 10 Bets
- Win: 4
- Exacta key box: 4/2,8,9