Brad Penner, USA Today Sports
- Paul Lo Duca likes Breaking the Rules to win the Easy Goer Stakes (Race 2).
- He thinks Bee Jersey will put on a show in The Runhappy Met Mile (Race 9). He’ll be his biggest win bet.
- And in the main event, he’s against No. 3 Bravazo (8-1) and No. 7 Tenfold (12-1), so he’s going to try to get No. 10 Blended Citizen (15-1) in the trifecta and the superfecta with Hofburg and Vino Rosso with Justify on top.
The big day is here. Justify will go for a Triple Crown in front of nearly 100,000 people at the 150th Belmont Stakes. It’s history, baby. But first, let’s break down the card because some of the best horses in the world will be running Saturday.
I won’t get too deep into Race 1 because it is wide open and I don’t have a play on it. However, it is definitely an “all race” (meaning use every horse in the early Pick-5) to start the card.
Race 2: The Easy Goer Stakes
In 1989, it was Easy Goer turning the tables on Sunday Silence and denying him the Triple Crown at Belmont. He was a great racehorse and a champion for the Phipps Family and Shug McGaughey. It would be fitting for the No. 6 Breaking the Rules (4-1), a horse from the Phipps Stable and trained by McGaughey, to win a race named after a horse they campaigned from 1988-1990. Breaking the Rules is lightly raced and a perfect 2-for-2 in his career. He will make his stakes debut but has upside to continue to get better, and the extra distance to 1 1/16 miles should benefit him. No. 7 Dark Vader (9-2) is coming off a hard-fought victory at Santa Anita. The Southern California shipper ran one of the better races of his career last time out, and the third-place horse that he beat came back to win the Snow Chief Stakes. Expect him to be on or near the lead early in the race. Back in January there was Kentucky Derby talk around the No. 2 Mask (5-2). Unfortunately, he suffered a setback and was knocked off the Triple Crown trail. You can forgive his last race because it was off a four-month layoff and on a sloppy racetrack. No. 4 Soutache (12-1) is the longshot to keep an eye on. Two things were against him in his last race. He raced on a sloppy track for the first time and he ran into the best 3-year-old sprinter in the country, named Mitole. One of his best races was at today’s distance of 1 1/16 miles.
Bet: No. 6 Breaking the Rules to win
Race 3: The Ogden Phipps
The No. 6 Abel Tasman (8-5) was defeated as the heavy favorite in her last start, but she had a couple excuses. It was her first race in six months, and she had some trouble going into the first turn. No doubt, she was flat in her last race. But, Bob Baffert would have left her in California if he didn’t feel she was right for this race. She also returns to Belmont Park, where she won the Grade I Acorn one year ago. No. 5 American Gal (3-1) is also 1-for-1 over the Belmont surface, winning the Grade III Victory Ride last July. She is fast and will be on the lead (if she runs in this race) as the horse to catch. The main question for her is can she get the 1 1/16 miles? She has not won a race beyond seven furlongs. No. 1 Unbridled Mo (4-1) loves to win races and comes into this event 7-for-10 lifetime, winning three of her last four starts. She makes her first start at Belmont, but that isn’t a concern since she already has won at five different tracks. The distance could be a question for a couple in here but not for this mare. She is a perfect 7-for-7 at today’s distance. No. 2 Ivy Bell (12-1) is cross-entered into a race on Friday, but do not ignore her if she starts here. She’s working like a beast.
Bet: I love No. 6 Abel Tasman here, but if No. 2 Ivy Bell runs, I’ll probably play exacta with those two. Be careful with American Gal. She might be tailing off.