Day Results 9 / 3-2-3
2020 Overall 690 690 / 244-224-270
Win % of Top Pick 35.36%
Payoff % of Top 3 Picks Overall 35.65%
2020 Top Pick in the Money –439-690 63.62%
Top Selection ITM / CD Spring-Summer: 123-198 62.12%
Top Selection Win / CD Spring-Summer: 68-198 34.34%
“Key Horses” @ CD Spring-Summer:22-8-6-5 36.36% Win / 86.36% ITM
“Key Horses” in 2020 94-30-23-15 31.91% Win / 72.34% ITM

 

We had an OK day on Friday. But just OK. Three wins out of the 9 races. Five exacta payoffs, that produced rather modest returns. OK.

But today’s the day we have been waiting for, right?

The start of the 2020 Triple Crown — as difficult it is to understand and consider. Still, all in all, we kick start the annual right of Spring in the Summer with what normally is the final leg — the G1 Belmont Stakes, which has been cut back from the traditional 11/2-mile “Test of Champions” to 11/8-miles today.

We take a look at the Graded Stakes at Belmont, and, of course, handicap the full card at Churchill Downs.

Take a peek.

Promises to be a great day of racing.

Belmont Park:

2nd: 3-4/5-1-2…G1 Woody Stephens Stakes…The 7-furlong Woody Stephens is named after the great horse trainer, who just so happened to hail from Midway, KY. — my hometown. I once was able to put together an event for the man at Midway College. The Mayor gave him the “Key to the City,” at a location just off East Stephens Street. What a man. What a trainer. Won 5 straight Belmont Stakes. Five. Talk about a feat that will never be matched in sports. Today’s Stakes, named in his honor, has attracted only 5 horses. But what a five. I will go with Mischievous Alex (3). In a race full of speedsters, this one is backing up off a 1-mile event and should be able to find a nice spot tucked right behind a fierce duel up front. He is a perfect 2-for-2 at this distance, as well. Moves to the “Big Sandy” for the first time, but he has won 3 in a row and the son of Into Mischief certainly has the breeding to sparkle here. Echo Town (4) may be one of the toughest customers in the game today. Gutty and gritty as the game is good. Will stretch out to 7 furlongs for the first time and that should not be a problem with the breeding. But he is pure speed, too, and that could be a problem — what with the abundance of front-runners taking aim on the future. Has the guts to last, though. Shoplifted (5) should not be dismissed, either. This is another son of Into Mischief and one backing up off a two-turn race in the last 2 outings. This distance may smack him perfectly and he will be running late with Jose Ortiz up for the first time. Take note. I bet the 3 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the 3 over/under all the numbers in two smaller units.

4th: 1/3-5-4/6…G2 Pennine Ridge Stakes…This is a 1-mile event over the weeds and it has all the markings of a single. Simply put? Decorated Invader (1) looks like a “single” here. The 3YO son of Declaration of War — who has compiled a 3-1-0 mark in the first 5 career starts — is coming off a win in a Stakes at Gulfstream Park. Before that, nearly won the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. Did win the G1 Summer Stakes at Woodbine, after breaking the maiden at Saratoga. Looks to love the distance, too, with 2 wins in 3 starts. Barn winning at .22% rate this meet and .15% in Graded Stakes. Hard to find anything in here that matches this record. I bet the 1 to win (only) and key the 1 over/under the “all button.”

6th: 2-5/1-3-4…G3 Wonder Again Stakes…This is a 1-mile event over the sod for the 3YO fillies, and another 5-horse field. Yikes. But a classy bunch, none the less. I am going with another favorite here in Sweet Melania (2). And, really the only reason that I will give her the edge over some other prime candidates is the fact that it appears — at least on paper — that she is the lone speed in the race. Backed up in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf last November at Santa Anita, but Sharing is a very good one, too. Will be making the 2020 debut here. Does Todd Pletcher have her ready? Good question. May be the only one here. Selflessly (5) ran behind the top pick in the Breeders’ Cup and has not raced since then, either. But we do know — for a fact — that trainer Chad Brown can get them ready off the bench. Barn hits with .30% of those returning from this type of a layup. And, Brown loves to win Graded Stakes, too. Wins .24% of those. Wow number. This one comes from behind and may have to push the button a bit earlier that usual, but has the talent to upset. Maybe. I bet the 2-5 across the board and then box those two solidly in the exacta. I will key the 2-5 over (only) the other numbers.

8th: 1-7/2-4/6-3…G1 Acorn Stakes…If Gamine (1) stays in this event, I will plunk down here. The 3YO Into Mischief filly has speed; has talent; has the pedigree; has Bob Baffert for a trainer; and has a sharp workout to move on to a G1 win. There are some questions that she may be scratched. Check the info early and often to make sure. If she’s in, I’m in. If not, I will drift to the outside and side up with Perfect Alibi (7). This one will be making the 2020 debut and the barn hits with .16% away this long. But she can win off a freshening. Has done it before and has a second in only previous try here. Like the work here on June 7 and she does have 3 wins and 2 seconds in 6 starts and has won a G1 already. Experience edge here. I bet the 1-7 across the board and then box those two solidly. I will key the 1-7 over (only) the 2-4.

9th: 4-2/3-5/7-6…G1 Jaipur Stakes…This is a 6-furlong event over the sod and will be the coming out party in 2020 for the 9-year-old sensation — Pure Sensation (4). In his 8YO season, all he did was go 4-0-1 in 6 starts and if not for starting a step slow in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, he may have added to that total. Can win off the bench. Did so in the 2019 debut. Has trained well at Payson Park in Florida. Gets a rider who is winning at a .30% clip this meet in the first 46 rides. Adds up. Oleksandra (2) has a race under her belt this year, but did you notice that I typed “her?” The 6YO mare will be testing the boys for only the second time in her career. Did win over this surface last June in an allowance event. In 3 starts at the distance, has 2 wins and is perfect 2-for-2 here. Chance. I bet the 4 to win/place and then box the top 2 in the exacta. I will key the 4-2 over/under the 3-5 in two smaller units.

10th: 10-8/3-2/5-1-9/4-6…G1 Belmont Stakes…The first leg of this year’s crazy Triple Crown begins today and will be contested at the 1-turn distance of 11/8 and not the traditional 2-turn, 11/2-miles of the “Test of Champions.” And, that makes a huge difference — in many ways. Including the handicapping. I go with an upset here and with Pneumatic (10), the 3YO son of Uncle Mo. This will be just his 4th career start, but he may be the most interesting newcomer on the trail. After winning the first two career starts, he took on Mayfield and Ny Traffic in the G3 Matt Winn Stakes. He got a little too hungry on the front end that day and hooked up too early. Tired at the end, but still fought on against the likes of the undefeated Mayfield — who was my #1 candidate for this year’s KY Derby. Look for a little more relaxation on the front today, and the cut back to one turn should fit him perfectly. Love the ML odds, too. Tiz the Law (8) is the obvious 6-5 ML favorite, and why not? Is a perfect 2-for-2 this year and comes in off a dominating performance in the G1 Florida Derby. But this NY-bred faces a different set-up here. Will be interesting to see how he adapts, although he won over this track at a mile in the G1 Champagne. I bet the 10 to win/place/show and then box the top 2 numbers in the exacta. I will key the 10 over/under all the numbers listed in two smaller versions.

Churchill Downs:

1st: 6-7-1/11-10-12-2/3-5…Sigesmund (6) gets a slight edge in what surely will be a wide, wide open lid-lifter under the Twin Spires. No shining stars appear on paper here. But this NY-bred zipped early and often in the debut at the Fair Grounds back in February. That was on the turf and against better. Gets the dirt today and the barn hits with .26% of those making this surface switch. Flashed a nice work here on June 14. Barn is ready to dint the circle, too. Will have to catch this one. Boss Hugo (7) will be making the career debut today. Gets Corey Lanerie in the saddle, and he has won with .20% of the last 10 rides for this barn. Works OK until you find the May 26 effort at KEE. Nice. If he can find that form for real today? Shot in this spot, although the barn is 0-for-12 when starting the career in the MCL ranks this year. Epic West (1) will make the first start for trainer W. Bret Calhoun, after starting the career in the hands of Jason Servis. Ran once at Gulfstream Park under the former trainer and spit the bit midway through that one. Did work a bullet here on June 6. Son of Bernardini cost $275,000 as a KEE September Yearling in 2018. Chance. I bet the 6-1 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the 6-1 over/under the 7-11-10-12-2 in two smaller versions.

2nd: 3-7/1-6/5-2…Napoleon’s Empire (3) will move up in class after winning last time out at Oaklawn Park as the PT favorite. Loses that condition, but the trainer is started to really heat up of late and has teamed up with the rider to go 3-1-5 in the last 12 starts. Won the opener here on Friday, too. Barn hits with .32% of those trying to repeat in the claiming ranks. Has only a second in 4 starts here. Hmmm. Lagoon Macaroon (7) could spice up this odds rack a bit. Gets posted at 6-1 in the ML and the Florida-bred could have a shot here. Nearly won at the $16,000 level at Santa Anita in January. Didn’t fire a lick last time out at GP, but this barn wins with .16% on the second start after a claim purchase. In 9 career starts to date, has a 2-1-2 mark. Not bad. Will be running at the end, too. i bet the 3-7 across the board and then box those two in the exacta. I will key the 3-7 over/under the 1-6 in two smaller units.

3rd: 12/9-11/8-10-4/2-1-7/5-3…The first Key Play of the Day comes here with another from the barn of grass expert Chad Brown. Motagally (12) will have to break from the far outside, but the 11/8-mile distance should give rider Tyler Gaffalione plenty of time to negotiate a good spot early and often. The rider is hitting with a whopping .56% in 9 rides for this barn so far this meet. That is .56%. Ever seen that? I bet the 12 to win/place/show and then key the 12 over/under the “all button.” May use the 12 a bit more with the 9-11-8-10-4, too.

4th: 4-3-2/9-6-7-5-1/8…Movie Moxy (4) is a 3YO Street Sense filly who will be making the career debut today for a barn that wins with .13% in the first effort. This one has been working lights out and cost $225,000 at the 2018 KEE September Yearling Sale. Took awhile to get to the races, but gets one of the hottest riders alive. Over the last week, jockey has a 8-6-0 record in 25 mounts. Dam of this filly has one winner from one starter. Wide open race could be won by a first timer. Partylicious (3) is another making the debut. This one is 12-1 in the ML, too. Works are just OK, but this barn hits with .20% of those making the first start in the MSW ranks. Barn has been super cool this meet. Just 2 wins in 26 starts. Expect them to heat up soon. Speighty Shirl (2) is 10-1 in the ML and could add some odds to the mix, too. This daughter of Speightstown will make the 2020 debut, but has a couple of nice runs to work with. Barn hits with .13% of those returning off this kind of a layup. Like the rider choice here, too. Big shot. I bet the 4-2 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the 4-2 over/under the 3-9-6-7-5-1-8 in two smaller units, as well.

5th: 1-8-7/5/4-3/6…Duplicitous (1) won the last time out to inch her win total to 2 in the first 7 races. Now, she moves up in class and will face tougher, to be sure. Hot rider stays aboard and the works since the win look promising for a return to that form. Barn hits with .15% of those trying to repeat the trip to the winner’s circle. Rider has a 2-1-0 record in the last 7 mounts for this barn. Gold Credit (8) is my first Upset Special of the Day. This 4YO daughter of Goldencents is coming off a short layup for a barn that has won with .12% of the 152 starts this year. Has a 1-1-0 mark in 9 starts here this meet. This one is 10-1 in the ML and yes a top rider to take the reins. Look at the race three starts back. Ran third to Sunny Dale, who came right back to win the next out. Ran against some real good ones in the past, too. Look for this one to be running at the end. Readyformycloseup (7) was claimed last time out and will make the first start for a barn that wins with .15% of those making the initial start after a purchase. Gets a top rider to take the reins, too. Has the talent to be there at the end of this one, too. I bet the 1-8 across the board and then box the top 3 in one exacta. I will key the 1-8 over/under the 7-5-4-3-6 in two more.

6th: 6/7-8-4/3-2-1/5…Audubon Stakes…Field Pass (6) gets our second Key Play of the Day designation. This is a tough spot, to be sure, but the 3YO son of Lemon Drop Kid has the potential to become one of the top 3YO turf specialists in the country this year. Since adding the blinkers five starts ago, this one has a couple of Stakes wins and a fast-closing third in the War Chant here last time out. Don’t expect this one to get that far back this time out. Rider choice is excellent and should make a huge difference in this spot. I bet the 6 to win/place/show and then key the 6 over/under all the numbers listed. Bullish on this 6.

7th: (16)-(14)-(15)/9-7-11/5-2-8/12-4-10/1-6…A wide, wide, wide open affair here. And, the best options are on the AE List. Most of these horses are NOT making the gate, but if they do — I go here. If they do not? Good luck. Seriously, a half-dozen horses have a shot in here, IMO. I will give the slight edge to Royal Commission (9), who is dropping all the way from a high-class allowance event to the $20,000 tag here. Moves to the dirt, too. This barn hits with .23% of those converting from the sod back to the dirt. Won on debut at Oaklawn Park in March. Faced No Parole in the next out, and that one is running in the G1 Woody Stephens today at Belmont Park. I bet the 16 if he gets in. I use the other AE horses, too, if they get in. If not, I go with the 9 to win/place/show and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the 9 over/under the numbers listed in two smaller units.

8th: 2/11-9-8-7/4-3-1/12-5…Union Maiden (2) is my next Key Play of the Day and it comes with another from the barn of Chad Brown. This 3YO Union Rags filly cost $425,000 at the OBS March Sale a year ago. Has made two starts this year and ran up against Ocean Breeze last time out. That one scratched yesterday, but she ran off to an easy win here on May 25 by that distance of 81/4 lengths. This one nearly dead-heated for 2nd. Got a late start in that one. Gets a huge rider switch to the hottest hand in the biz right now and should be a bit closer with the stretch out to a mile. Look for more out of this one today. I bet the 2 to win/place/show and then key the 2 over/under the numbers listed — with more over the 11-9-8-7.

9th: 9-3-7/5-11/10-8-2-1/6-4…G2 Wise Dan Stakes…The biggest and best Upset Play of the Day comes here with Casa Creed (9). The 4YO son of Jimmy Creed began the 2020 campaign here on May 21. Ran a very nice 3rd for the first start of the year. Lost by less than 2. Won the G2 Hall of Fame at Saratoga last August at the mile distance. Must get 11/16 miles today, but does have a second in two starts going that long. The G3 Palm Beach was a good one, too. Gets a speed rider, which is interesting. But if he can stay in touch with what appears to be the lone and dominating speedster in here, he may have a shot late. Factor This (3) has never been better. Won two Graded Stakes in a row at the Fair Grounds. Will go right to the front and will try to stay there. Gets a little less distance today for that effort and has 3 wins in 6 starts at this route. Working good for a top barn, too. The one to beat. Is there any other speed that can go with him? March to the Arch (7) could be coming late. Has a win over this course and has a 2-1-1 mark in 6 starts at the distance. Ran in the G1 Shoemaker Mile at Santa Anita last out. Never in that one. But the times before was right there at the line. Look for more out of this one today. I bet the 9-3 across the board and then box the top 3 in the exacta. I will key the 9-3 over/under the 7-5-11-10-8-2-1 in two smaller versions.

10th: 6-9-(14)/4-10/7-11-12/2-5-8…(Correction…Wrong horses in first draft)…Savvy (6) comes off a second here last November. If he can find that old form on the 2020 debut. Look out. Ten Flat (9) is a first timer from the barn of Brad Cox and is live in this one, too, it appears. Dam has 3 winners from 3 starters and 1 Stakes winner. Works good enough. If the 14 draws in, I think you have to use. I bet the 6-9 across the board and then box the top 3 numbers in the exacta. I will key the top 3 over/under the 10 in two smaller units.

11th: (14)-3/2-9-4/5-10/7-6-8…Finally, the finale. This is a 1-mile turf event to close out a long day of racing. I will go to the AE #14 if he draws in to the gate. If not, I will give the edge to Big Dreaming (3). This 3YO son of Declaration of War ran a huge one at Tampa Bay to begin the career on May 6. Finished 2nd that day but set all the fractions early. Gets a huge rider switch and the barn goes to the blinkers for the first time. Trainer hits with .22% of those when getting the shades for the initial time. I bet the 14 if he gets in. If not, I bet the 3 across the board and then key the 3 over/under all the numbers used.

Good Luck & All the Best / Gene