By Gene Kershner
Since we get a breather between Canadian Triple Crown races and it is Fourth of July weekend, let’s take a shot at Belmont Park’s guaranteed $300,000 late Pick-4 on Saturday afternoon. The late Pick-4 features three stakes races and the usual tough final leg, a $43,000 allowance race on the turf for New York-breds, and comprises races 8 through 11.
The middle two legs of the sequence feature a couple of Grade 2 races, the Dwyer for 3-year-olds and the Suburban Handicap for older horses, a longtime prep race for the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap at Saratoga. We’re going to go with a mythical $100 bankroll for Saturday’s play and work in some backup tickets, so let’s get to it…
Race 8: $60,000 Recording Stakes – 1 1/8 miles on the Inner Turf for 3-year old fillies
I’ll be honest and say I had some difficulty honing in on one or two horses in this group, so I’m going to go fairly deep (we have $100 to play with) in the first leg. 2-Parting Words (9-2) is my top choice, mainly based on class. She’s faced solid competition in the past and has NYRA’s top rider in Ramon Dominguez. 1-Celestial Kitten (3-1) has top turf rider Javier Castellano aboard and she has moved forward in each of her last three races, in addition to showing some solid workouts. 5-My Redbyrd (8-1) trainer John Terranova is 30 percent in non-graded stakes and Johnny V stays aboard after riding her on the Kentucky Oaks undercard against a solid field in the Edgewood. 6-Naples Bay (7-2) has won twice at the distance and should improve second off the layoff. We’re four deep in leg one.
Race 9: $150,000 Grade 2 Dwyer Stakes – 1 1/16 miles for 3-year olds
7-Adios Charlie (6-5) was impressive in the Grade 2 Peter Pan, losing by a head to Alternation in going the extra 1/2 furlong, He can’t be discounted in this race, especially after reviewing his work tab. 5-Tech Fall (10-1) stretches out but looks to be fit based on a solid workout menu coming in third off the layoff, my favorite angle. Ramon has the mount and should pose a big challenger for Charlie. 6-Cool Blue Red Hot (6-1) with Johnny V aboard looks dangerous, has never missed the board at Belmont and has a win at the distance. I’m leaving 2-Dominus (2-1) off my main ticket but will work him in on a backup ticket in case he fires.
Race 10: $300,000 Grade 2 Suburban Handicap – 1 1/8 miles for 3-year olds and up
A disappointing six-horse field for one of the more prestigious races of the Belmont spring meet will try to win the biggest race on the card. We’ll only go two deep here as 1-Rodman and 6-Hymn Book are my top two choices. Rodman (8-5) enters off an impressive showing in the Met Mile, finishing second to Tizway at odds of 36-1. He fired a bullet on Sunday morning and looks ready to roll. The key to selecting Hymn Book (5-2) over 2-Colizeo (5-1) was the decision by Johnny V to jump off Colizeo. Although he is coming off a top speed figure, the jockey key is enough for me to jump aboard. We’ll use Pletcher’s Colizeo on a backup ticket.
Race 11: $43,000 Allowance for 3-year old NY-Breds – 1 1/16 on the Widener turf course
4-Boat (3-1) looks like the best of the lot, finishing third after having troubles at the break against similar horses in his last race. With JJ Castellano aboard on the turf, he’s tough to ignore. 7-Rocky F (7-2) comes off a maiden win at the distance for trainer H. James Bond. 9-Gamblin Fever (8-1) is a late closer and if there happens to be a pace meltdown he needs to be on the ticket. 5-Fizzano (20-1) is our longshot play of the day coming off a maiden victory off the distance for Bond, who rides a bug boy getting a decent weight break. 3-Dual Citizen ends up on a saver backup ticket.
Post Time Outlook (Belmont Races 8-11):
$0.50 Pick-4 (Main Ticket): 1,2,5,6/5,6,7/1,6/4,5,7,9 ($48)
$0.50 Pick-4 (Backup 1): 1,2,5,6/2/1,6/4,5,7,9 ($16)
$0.50 Pick-4 (Backup 2): 1,2,5,6/5,6,7/2/4,5,7,9 ($24)
$0.50 Pick-4 (Backup 3): 1,2,5,6/5,6,7/1,6/3 ($12)
Good luck and let’s go cash some tickets!