Belmont Park: October 21, 2017, The Value & The Vulnerable, By Paul Hundley

Hello once again and welcome to the V & V! We’re less than 2 weeks away from the Breeders Cup, but today is Empire Showcase Day, dedicated to New York Breds!

RACE 1: This is a state-bred MSW going a mile on turf. 6 of the 9 in here scheduled for turf ran in an August 31 1 mile event at Saratoga where the race fell apart after a fast pace set.  7-APPEALING BRIEFS is the 3/1 morning line favorite and was one of the six who ran in that race, which is his last race. On pure speed figures is probably a standout, but has been a beaten favorite 2 times in a row and is 0/9 in career, though has 6 ITM finishes. Obviously not value, but don’t think “Vulnerable” fits either, at least in today’s field. My VALUE pick also comes from that August 31 race, and is the only 1 of the 6 in here that was on that fast pace. 8-SUMMER MISCHIEF (6/1). That was his only out of the money finish in 4 turf starts. With Irad Ortiz back on today, look for him to have ‘Mischief’ to be stalking the pace, and the outside draw should help on this 1 turnish mile. Play $5 Win, $10 Place, $1 exacta key box with 2,3,4,6


RACE 2: The $250K Maid in the Mist Stakes for 2 year old fillies. 4-PURE SILVER comes in the 2/1 choice for Todd Pletcher, and is already a G2 winner. However, did falter in the G1 Spinaway last out, and 3rd place finisher Seperationofpowers did come back to win the Frizette 2 weeks ago and established herself as one of the Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies favorites. Still, that was 7 furlongs, and now stretches out another furlong today. Will be tough if allowed to relax on the lead early, however I don’t anticipate that happening. 3-I STILL MISS YOU (6/1) ran 2nd to Silver two back before a dreadful run vs similar to today. Trainer Jeremiah Englehart puts blinkers on today, and is 26% doing so. Note that last race disaster was at Saratoga, her runs at Belmont have all been very good. But my value pick is 6-HELD ACCOUNTABLE (5/1), who is 2/2 and won going away last out vs a similar level, though this group is probably tougher today. Trainer Phillip Serpe is 22% with winners of their last race. Has proven very versatile, winning on lead in debut on turf and then overcoming a bad start in last. $5 Win, $10 Place. Horizontal wagers you’d probably have to include Silver, I Still Miss You, and Cause We are Loyal.


RACE 3: The $150K Iroquois for F&M 3 & up 6 1/2F. Small but talented field of 6 in here. Oh, and guess what? VULNERABLE FAVORITE ALERT!(I have so missed doing that 😁 ) 3-QUEZON(8/5) has not won since dominating this race last year, and that was in the slop. Granted faced tougher last race, less than a length off winning a Grade 2 in the Gallant Bloom. Her record at today’s distance is 7-1-4-2 , so while consistent, not invincible. Also, take into consideration the cold meet Trainer Robert Ribaudo is having (14-0-1-3). 1-PICCO UNO seems to be the choice here, but certainly can’t bet at 2/1, and will probably be even lower. Only bad race in last year was going longer on the slop, has won 5 of 6 and comes in for hot connections Irad and Jason Servis. 5-WONDERMENT is interesting, and should get the pace to run at, but I fear much like QUEZON she does best running on an off track.  Going with 1-PICCO UNO as a single in horizontal wagers.

RACE 4 TICONDEROGA STAKES $200K F&M 3 & up 8.5F Inner Turf: FIFTY FIVE is 5/2 here and has the best numbers coming in, but has never faced older, hasn’t won since Florida Oaks in March, and doesn’t have a win in 3 tries at Belmont. Is 3 for 6 at the distance, but those were true 2 turn events. So needless to say, I won’t be driving “FIFTY FIVE” today. The one I fear in here is the front runner 2-BARREL OF DREAMS. Set an insane pace last out and faded, but could be very dangerous today. My value however, is 6-FEELING BOSSY(10/1), who is 1st off he claim for Jason Servis (38%) and cuts back from running longer last several races. Has been an All or Nothing sort, 6 wins from 14 starts but no other ITM finishes. Is 4/7 at Belmont, and 3/4 at the distance.  $10 Win/Place


RACE 5 Empire Classic Handicap 1 1/8 mile: Last year’s defending champion Royal Posse(12/1) is back, but there are several differences between this year and last. Was coming in last year in very good form, this year comes in having been beaten 44 lengths in last 4 races. If he somehow recaptures his magic will reward handsomely whoever backs him, but I cannot justify in his current form. 3-TWISTED TOM is the 2/1 choice, and if he runs back to his last at Saratoga will be hard to beat. However facing older for the first time, and his one try at Belmont was far from successful, albeit in the G1 Belmont Stakes. Will pass on him as well. 8-GOVERNOR MALIBU seems to have an aversion to winning, 18-3-7-2, 6-0-5-0 at distance, so I will avoid him as well. Going to give the nod to the horse that “Tom” has beaten twice in a row, 6-CAN YOU DIGGIT(I wonder if the person who named this horse was a fan of the 5x WCW Champion Booker T?) Horse is lightly raced, improving, will be charging late, and does have a win at Belmont. $5 Win, $10 Place

RACE 6 Sleepy Hollow Stakes $250K 2 year olds: I’m anticipating a speed duel between the 1-STONEY BENNETT and 2-BATTLE STATION, and even possibly 7-INALIENABLE RIGHTS putting Blinkers on. All these set up well for my Value pick, 8-WE SHOULD TALK(5/1) who closed like a freight in debut last mi. Ran the last 1/16 mile in under 6 seconds, and that was into a so-so pace. Should appreciate added distance. $5 Win, $10 Place. Trainer Horacio DePaz 24% 1st route.


RACE 7: Pass


RACE 8 Hudson Handicap $150K 3 & up 6 1/2F: For a Sprint that has 10 entrants, there’s a surprising lack of early speed in here. Not saying there’s no speed, just not as much as one would anticipate. 3-WEEKEND HIDEAWAY is very vulnerable. Did win the Commentator back in late spring but at a mile on a sloppy track. At 3-1 is just too unreliable to have faith on top. Trying a price here in 2-,PAT ON THE BACK (15/1), who has early speed and cuts back from 2 turns and goes turf to dirt. While Trainer Kenny McPeek is 0/7 at meet, he’s 21% route to Sprint and 19% turf to dirt. Gets weight from rivals in here.Switches to Manny Franco. $5 Win, $19 Place, $1 exacta key box w/ALL


RACE 9 Mohawk Stakes $200K: I’m not sure you can look past the two favorites on top in this race in 6/5 OFFERING PLAN and 2/1 BLACK TIDE, who seemingly has a huge advantage as projected lone speed.  The only horse in here that on paper appears to have value is 2-NEVISIAN SKY, who is coming out of NY bred optional claimers and is the “other” Chad Brown horse in here. At 8/1 is certainly playable, my concern is Brown will use this 4 year old gelding to wear down Black Tide up front to help set it up for Offering Plan. Still, will take a shot, $5 Win, $10 Place, $1 Trifecta Box 2-5-7


RACE 10 Empire Distaff $250K 8.5F: First off, how many races do you see with 2 horses with “Jcs” in the name? It’s hard to look at this field and not immediately gravitate towards 4-VERDANT PLEASURES, who freaked in last race, winning by 14 lengths gate to wire. The Bris speed figure of 104 is impressive, as is the Late Pace figure of 106. However, that race had a very slow early pace, going 51.3 for the half. Don’t anticipate it being that way today. I’m not sure why 8-LITERATA is the 3-1 morning line choice, she’s not horrible, but I’m not seeing it and I’m assuming it’s alot to do with Castellano being aboard. VULNERABLE FAVORITE ALERT! As far as my value, it has to be 6-BONITA BIANCA(10-1) who won here last year as a juvenile and has only one out of the money finish in her career. 2-2 at the distance. $5 Win, $10 Place


RACE 11: PASS. Have a great day everyone!


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