Lo Duca: My Card For Belmont Gold Cup Day
Saturday is the big day, but there’s some awesome action to be had at Belmont on Friday. Let’s get ourselves warmed up so we’re in good shape to crush the 150th Belmont Stakes tomorrow.
All odds courtesy of Equibase.
Race 3: Grade III Bed o’ Roses
1:52 p.m. ET
The No. 6 Lewis Bay (4-1) seems like she is better on a fast or dry track than a wet track like she caught last time out when she finished third behind American Gal and Ivy Bell. Rain seems unlikely for Friday, so I’m expecting a fast track and a big effort from Lewis Bay in her third start off the layoff. No. 1 Ivy Bell (7-2) has shown improvement since joining Todd Pletcher’s barns, and she doesn’t need to improve much more to win this race. However, she may be pushed to Saturday to run for more money. Stay tuned there. No. 2 American Gal (9-5) turned in the best effort of her career last time out in the slop at Churchill. She can win on the lead or from just off the pace, but the post position likely forces her to show early speed, and she could get pressured by No. 3 Chalon (8-1). She could just be best, but won’t offer much of a price. No. 8 Highway Star (8-1) is cross-entered in the Ogden Phipps on Saturday, so keep an eye on her status, but she has hit the trifecta in 16 of 18 starts and could be a good price.
Bet: No. 6 Lewis Bay to Win
2:24 p.m. ET
Race 4 is a tough one to call, but I’d suggest taking a shot on the No. 9 Expected Ruler (10-1).
Bet: No. 9 Expected Ruler to Win, Place, Show
Race 5: Tremont
2:56 p.m. ET
No. 4 Outshine (7-2) had a GREAT debut from off the pace, and that’s not an easy thing to do. There is usually a lot of speed in 2-year-old races, and the fact that he can win from off the pace is a big advantage. Outshine has top-notch connections in his corner and the looks of a nice colt. No. 6 Sir Truebador (2-1) won nicely from the inside post in his career debut. He was fast early and kept going on the front end. This colt is talented and has a good pedigree. He is a full brother to a horse that earned $1.8 million. No. 2 Sombeyay (6-1) won like a good one at Gulfstream in the debut. He dropped back early on, but made a big move on the far turn and won going away. The extra distance looks like it only helps, and he is another contender in a wide-open race. No. 7 Mae Never No (9-5) won at 7-1 in her debut and beat a horse that would go on to win her next start. The only knock is that she will likely be a short price.
There’s not enough value to bet the race straight up, but the buzz in the morning has been the No. 6. Play as you please.
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4:08 p.m. ET
I love the No. 8 Raging Bull (5-2) in his debut, and I think he’s a win bet and a single to start your late pick 5. Which is a must play! There’s carryover of $60,000 plus going in.
Bet: No. 8 Raging Bull to Win
Race 8: The True North
4:42 p.m. ET
The No. 8 Whitmore (6-1) was third in this race last year as the 1.05/1 favorite. He’s had some bad luck in recent starts, including his last time out when he finished fourth to Limousine Liberal. He’s been in sharp form, and we’ll look for him to be rolling late from off the pace in a race that has a lot of early speed. No. 3 Imperial Hint (9-2) is fast, there’s no doubt about that. He got tired after setting a fast pace in his last outing and gets to cut back in distance. We’ll likely be hearing his name right away; look for the shorter distance to help his chances. No. 5 Limousine Liberal (7-2) is cross-entered in the Met Mile. He’s a contender in either race since he is sharp and has finished in the top three in 17 of his 21 career starts. No. 1 Recruiting Ready (8-1) won right here at Belmont at this exact distance on May 17. He’ll likely be sent from the rail position, and if he shows up with the same race we saw last time out, they all could be running for second.
This is a great race where multiple horses can win. Pass.
Race 9: The New York
5:14 p.m. ET
The first start of the year for the No. 5 Sistercharlie (9-5) was an absolute showstopper! She exploded in the stretch at Keeneland to win a Grade I by a widening margin of two-plus lengths. Trainer Chad Brown was worried that the mile distance at Keeneland was too short. It wasn’t! Now she gets extra distance in the New York for her second start of the year and is the one to beat. The No. 8 Fourstar Crook (7-2) is a talented New York thoroughbred that finished runner-up to Sistercharlie at Keeneland. She knows how to win, with 10 victories in 16 starts. Belmont Park is her favorite racetrack, and she will look to avenge a recent defeat to her stable mate. Sometimes a change in surface can make all the difference, and that could be the case for No. 2 Holy Helena (6-1). Since switching to the turf, Holy Helena hasn’t been defeated. Her three turf wins have all come by measured margins. She is a distance type who is in good form to take on the toughest field she’s ever faced. No. 9 Mom’s On Strike (5-1) is a big mare who wants to run as far as they will let her. Mom’s On Strike took advantage of a great inside trip to win the Grade III Bewitch Stakes last time out at Keeneland. She has won five of her last six starts and has gotten better since they took the blinkers off.
Bet: Play the 5 in the late Pick-5 and Pick 4. And in exactas over 1,2,6,8,9
Race 10: The Belmont Gold Cup
5:46 p.m. ET
It’s not too often you can get a big price on trainer Chad Brown in a graded stakes race on the turf. Yet No. 9 Focus Group (10-1) takes on his first stakes race in the Gold Cup and is a juicy price on the morning line. He has an amazing distance turf pedigree and has improved with time and the blinkers being added. No. 4 Funny Kid (5-1) is in very consistent European form. The 5-year-old has been in the trifecta in each of his last eight races. Unlike others in this race, he is very familiar with competing at the demanding 2-mile distance. This is his first start in America. The Queen of England herself owns No. 1 Call To Mind (7-2). He has faced the toughest European competition of this bunch. This colt is comfortable riding the inside and rates as a top contender. No. 10 Rocketry (8-1) is a three-time winner and has a late running style that looks to want as much distance as possible. He is coming off his career-best speed figure last time out at Belmont. He is a perfect 1-for-1 with jockey John Velazquez and will try the longest distance of his career.
Bet: No. 9 Focus Group to win
Early Pick-5 (starts with Race 1) and Pick-4 (starts with Race 2):
Race 1: 8
Race 2: 256711
Race 3: 1(if she runs) 268
Race 4: All
Race 5: 4