by Brian Nadeau
June 6, 2019
We’ll take a break from the Stronach 5 this week to go back to the Triple Crown and play Belmont Park’s guaranteed $500,000 Pk4 Friday (R8-11), which consists of a trio of pricey graded stakes and figures to blow by the guaranteed pool and get closer to $1 million.
*** Please take note that this analysis is done upwards of 48 hours in advance, so obviously weather, track conditions and especially late scratches can and will have an effect. Please check back around 4pm Friday for an update, as well as on Twitter. ***
R8: The Grade II, $250,000 True North for 4yo&up at 6 furlongs
If you’ve followed me in this space in the past you know I’m a big fan of singling a heavy favorite (that I love) in the opening leg of a Pk4 or Pk5 sequence, since the betting public is usually adverse to this move, as they are scared mentally because they don’t want to be out after just one race. The True North was made for this way of thinking, as #3 CATALINA CRUISER (5-2), who I assume will be closer to even-money than his morning line, looks to have this field over a barrel, as he’s not only by far the most talented horse in the race, but he’s full of upside, has been training well, and I find it hard to believe Sadler would ship here off a November layoff if he wasn’t ready to fire his A race. Sure, that absolute no show in the BC Dirt Mile when last seen is a concern, and it’s also the only time he’s been outside of California, but a look at his four wins leading up to that, and you know why he was 9-10 against City of Light.
Pk5 A horses: 3
If the chalk should come up short, then I’ll also use #4 NICODEMUS (8-1), who has a stalking gear in a race loaded with speed and enters off a breakthrough win in the local GIII Westchester, and the hard-knocking #7 WHITMORE (7-2), as he always fires, and therefore should be able to bounce back off a rare meek effort in the GI Churchill Downs last time, over a very speedy track that didn’t suit his running style. If you’re searching for one more then #8 Do Share (5-1) would be logical, as he to was up against it in the Churchill Downs, though it’s also fair to wonder if he’s this kind.
Pk5 B horses: 4,7
R9: – The Grade II, $600,000 New York for 4upfm at 1 miles (turf)
It’s Chad Brown’s world and we’re all just living in it, so I’m not siding against either #8 HOMERIQUE (6-5) or #6 COMPETITIONOFIDEAS (5-2), who ran 1-2 last time in the local GIII Beaugay and figure to do so again here. The latter could reverse that decision, as the former was more likely to appreciate the shorter trip, but she too was off a long layoff, and might be ready to move forward again in her second US start. ‘Competition won the GI American Oaks at Santa Anita in December in her 2018 finale when she flew home at this trip, so she may bridge the gap, but the gut still says Homerique is a true star in the making and will prove best again.
Pk5 A horses (listed in order of preference): 8,6
No one else here appears in the league of the top-2, and would also need a lifetime best to win, so we’ll just take what the race gives us and move on. If you’re looking outside the box, then #7 Semper Sententiae (8-1) has had solid graded stakes form and is knocking at the door, and #1 Holy Helena (9-2) is a multiple graded stakes winner, but neither looks to have a gear that the Brown gals do, or the upside.
Pk5 B horses: NONE
R10: The $400,000 Belmont Gold Cup for 4yos&up at 2 miles (turf)
This is always a tricky race, as it’s rare an American wants to go this far (against good foreign company) and you don’t know what the Europeans are sending over, so using more than a few seems like the right idea. I’ll take the easy way out and go with #3 AMADE (8-1) and #8 RAA ATOLL (6-1), a pair of marathon-loving Euros who have some solid form and both add Lasix. I can’t possibly believe they’ll hold their morning lines, but this is also the third race in the sequence, so those overlaid prices may scare a few people away, even though Amade has won 5-of-6, with two of them at this trip, and Raa Atoll enters off a GII win going 2 miles at Hoppegarten in his seasonal bow last month, in what was his first start since July. There’s little doubt #6 ARKLOW (5-2) is the best of the Americans, as he just missed in the GI Man O’ War here last time, but this distance is a guess and he’s not usually one for putting big efforts together back-to-back.
Pk5 A horses: 3,8,6
I’m going to toss in #4 RED KNIGHT (7-2) as a backup, since it’s Mott and this guy did win going 2 miles in the Allen Jerkens at Gulfstream Park in December, but he’s really meeting tougher here and has to run better to get unsaddled, and taking this 7-2 ML price would be a huge risk.
Pk5 B horses: 4
R11: 3upfm 40k starter-allowance at 6 furlongs (turf)
First off, no, I don’t know why this isn’t an all-stakes Pk4 starting in R7 with the ultra-tough Tremont for 2yos. Though, this heat came up tough too, and it contains a lot of inside speed, which is why I’m looking for slightly off-the-pace types, who should get all the best of it in the lane. My top pick is #8 QUEEN KAHEN (10-1), an impressive MCL winner from midpack who immediately switches to the dirt off the Rice claim (30%), which is a very confident sign. The horse to beat looks like #3 FUNNY MONEY HONEY (5-2), who was a dreadful 7th on the dirt on debut then freaked when switched to turf after settling early, though facing winners at a short price makes her an underlay. I’ll also include #11 AILISH (8-1), since she drops in class and will be stalking, and going second-off a seven-month layoff says she’s going to be primed here.
Pk5 A horses: 8,3,11
Wiring this won’t be easy, but both #2 LILA RUTH (5-1) and #1 SMOKEN DEB (3-1) have talent for big name connections, so I’m not tossing them completely, though I wouldn’t want to use them on the top line either, since they figure to be dueling with each other throughout.
Pk5 B horses: 2,1
Main Ticket: 3 with 8,6 with 3,8,6 with 8,3,11 = $9
R8 B Backup: 4,7 with 8,6 with 3,8,6 with 8,3,11 = $18
R10 B Backup: 3 with 8,6 with 4 with 8,3,11 = $3
R11 B Backup: 3 with 8,6 with 3,8,6 with 2,1 = $6