McLean’s Picks for Belmont Park on 6-8-17

1st: 9-6-3-7-4-2…Privy Council (9) has not been to the races since April of last year, but she ran a huge one against what has turned out to be a very nice filly, in her own right. Training well for an outfit that can get them ready off the bench. Picks up HOF rider. Watch out. Transaction Tax (6) is a beaten favorite for Chad Brown and should get a dry track today. Sweet Avery is another beaten favorite, who tired midway through first out. Brilliant Missy is 20-1 ML and warrants a serious look at hitting the board, too. I bet the 9 to win/place and wheel over/under all the numbers above.

2nd: 4-7-6-9-8-11-1…Giant Expectations (4) is a NY-bred (obviously, since this is restricted to such types), but is a standout here if he runs anything like he has in the past – including an ultra-impressive 93/4-length score to break his maiden here on May 29. This one ran second and was beaten only 41/2 lengths by Arrogate last June – when that one broke his maiden. The “dot” (must use) horse here. Wicked Macho (7) and Build to Suit (6) both bring credentials to the party, but must bring their A Game to tackle the top choice. I bet the 4 to win/place and key over/under all the numbers above.

3rd: 4-2-7-1-5…Fifty Five (4) is coming off an awful, awful trip in her last and if she gets a clean trip, she should/could romp in this spot. I give her a “dot” and she is 6-1 ML. Dream Dancing (2) is 2-1 ML and a deep, deep closer in a race that is absolutely void of ANY SPEED. Daughter of Tapit is super talented and I have to use. New Money Honey (7) just so happened to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita last fall and those credentials can speak for themselves. Didn’t like her race at Keeneland, but it was her first try this year. I bet the 4 to win/place/show and then box the 4-2-7 and the 4-2-1. I may try a little key exacta with the 4 over all and vice versa.

4th: 4-13-1-3-9-10-14-5-6-7…Another race where you see a lot of numbers, but I really like one horse. This case it is Kahrumana (4). She had a disaster of a trip in her debut and still tried to the line. Any luck at all today and she clears this bunch, and this bunch has got some talent. Jockey has to do a better job of just keeping her out of trouble. Resonate (13) is 10-1 ML and worth a serious look here. Nice move against a solid field in first out. Conspiring (1) is another key horse in here for me, too. She gets her second start and the trainer goes from single digits in wins for first out to .24 in maiden second starts. Also, gets a switch over to the grass, which is another key angle for this barn. This one is bred to love the grass and is 8-1 ML, but won’t stay there. The last one that I am going to use, too, is Equalityforall, a first-timer for red-hot trainer Linda Rice. This one sold for $775,000 and the trainer knows how to win races. I bet the 4 to win/place/show and then key over/under all the numbers above (that’s a lot). But I key the 4 over/under the 13-1-3-9 larger and just a tad with the others.

5th: 3-1-6-2…The $150,000 Astoria Stakes draws a solid field, but I land on Sugar Queen (3). This filly broke her maiden in her first start at odds-on and did it in style. And, she did it after a significant bobble at the start. A clean break and she may just air. Pletcher’s other horse here, One Last Cast (1), didn’t get anywhere close to the same time of the others, but she had a more troubled trip – having to wait for room on the inside. Draws the rail again, but may be tough, too. I bet the 3 to win/place, but then box in the exacta with the 1 solidly. I then key the 3 over (only) the 6 and 2.

6th: 7-11-14-10-3-1-9…A wide open race where nearly any horse has a legit shot. If the Unbridled Ocean (15) draws in, take a huge look there, too. If not, I finally settle on Richmond Street (7), who is 3-1 ML. He ran a big number for him off an extended layoff and that may give some concern about a bounce here, but he tends to get better the second out off a layoff in the past. Tepid choice, though. I have to look hard at War Bond (11) at 8-1 ML, too. Winner of two in a row, including his last in his first start for new trainer Linda Rice. Hot now. St. Louie (14) is another longer-priced horse that may have a shot. A true closer that does well enough at Belmont and seems to be very consistent – having hit the board in 10 of 21 lifetime. I bet the 7-11-14 exacta and the 7-11-10 exacta boxes. I play a small 7 over/under the 3-1-9. And, I bet a smaller win/place ticket on the 7.

7th: 3-9-5-4-11-8…Bombs Away (3) is 10-1 ML, but I love in this spot today. Ran a couple of huge ones in June / July of last year, and then fell off his game. Seems to be training well and picks up blinkers from a trainer who knows what he’s doing. Could be a nice play. Lenstar (9) is another longshot (15-1 ML) whom I love today. He ran a huge one against Aquamarine, who came back to run huge in a stakes. Lenstar has caught some tough customers and has been right there. Patternrecognition (5) ran a big number in his first start at Aqueduct and will get bet today. Not a cinch to run that back today, though. I bet the 3 & 9 to win/place/show. I box the 3-9-5 in the exacta and then I play the 3-9 combo over/under the other numbers in the exactas.

8th: 5-4-9-2-1-8-7-10…Don’t worry. Lots of numbers. But one key – Mississippi Delta (5) in a grand running of the G3 Intercontinental Stakes. Ran a huge one against Roca Rojo and Believe in Bertie in the last – even though she hit the gate, was brushed and then had to go 4/5 wide throughout. A cleaner trip today and she is a monster. Probably wants a firm turf, too, so watch out for that. Fair Point (4) probably needed her last and should improve today at 8-1 ML. Take These Chains (9) has three wins in three starts for the tough barn of Chad Brown. Has HOF rider in JJ Castellano and is working well. So what’s not to like? First try against stakes company today. Maybe she treats them like all the rest she has faced so far, but at low odds I’m a little leery here. I bet the 5 and 4 to win/place/show and box the 5-4-9 in the exactas. I also wheel the 5-4 over/under the rest of the numbers in the exactas – hunting a HR.

9th: 8-1-11-12-7-5-6-4-9…OK, lots of numbers. And, reason to worry. Tough one to pinpoint and narrow. I finally settle on one of the logical choices, Top Hat City (8), who has two 2nd-place finishes in two tries on the grass. Figures to be there again, with a top jock. But I really like Speightful Kitten (1) who is coming off the layoff for Linda Rice. First time gelding and he seems to be working good for the return. Like 8-1 ML. Uncle Tbone (11) and Danny’s Rush (12) both figure in this restricted NY-bred MSW. I bet the 8 to win/place and then box in the exactas with 8-1-11 and 8-1-12. May play a tad across on the 1 if those odds stay.

The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds
  • Gene McLean

    Gene McLean

    Gene McLean began his professional career in 1977 as a sportswriter and columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader in Lexington, Ky., and was recognized as one of the state’s best writers, winning the prestigious “Sportswriter of the Year” honor in 1985. Now the President and Publisher of The Pressbox, McLean sets ...

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