by Dustin Fabian
October 5, 2019
When you’re a horseplayer, few words jump off the page more than ‘mandatory payout.’ A big lump sum of money sitting in the pool that can’t beat you, but is up for grabs? Sign me up almost every time.
That’s the case this Sunday at Belmont, as ‘everything must go’ in their Empire 6 and the carryover, which has reached $725,823 is the pot of gold waiting for you at the end of the rainbow.
I took a look at the sequence and I think it’s challenging but not impossible, assuming Sistercharlie holds true to form in the Flower Bowl.
The sequence gets underway with Belmont’s Race 5, at 2:59PM ET. Here’s my ticket:
Race 5 – Maiden Claiming – 6 1/2 Furlongs – 2YO Fillies
The kickoff leg of the Pick 6 is loaded with mediocre NY-bred maiden claimers and, as they say, you can’t win the Empire 6 here but you sure can lose it. There is good news, though. Since this is the opening leg, you’ll be able to see the odds and adjust your bet accordingly. If a horse on your ticket isn’t taking much money, you may be able to drop her. If a filly that you didn’t have looks live, it’s probably worth adjusting your ticket to add her in. Most of the fillies in this group that have run have done very little on the track, so I’m going to use a trio of first time starters - #4 BROADWAY ANGEL (7/2; Pletcher/Lezcano), #5 BIG RED GIRL (8/1; Baker/Alvarado) and #12 MICRO MARGARITA (6/1; Rodriguez/Franco). I’ll also use just two that have started, #6 WELSH GOLD (6/1; Sacco/Cancel) and #9 BE MAGIC (4/1; Rodriguez/Ortiz Jr.). They at least showed promise.
Race 6 – Maiden Special Weight – 6 Furlongs – 2YO Fillies
This race is pretty similar to the opener, except these gals aren’t in for a tag. That means they’re a little better and potentially more trustworthy. Again, like the opener, you can get a sneak peek at the odds in here in the form of Daily Double Probables prior to Race 5. So if someone is taking money, it probably makes sense to include that horse on your ticket. I’m looking to go four deep to (hopefully) pass this leg. I’ll use first time starters #9 MONEY NEVER SLEEPS (4/1; Pletcher/Velazquez), #11 YELLOW BRICK ROAD (5/1; Kimmel/Rosario) and #6 AMAZING RIDE (6/1; Dutrow/Carmouche). #4 GOOD SHABBOS (10/1; Englehart/Luzzi) has run second in three career starts and you have to think she’ll win someday, right? #7 LAKE AVENUE (8/1; Mott/Alvarado) and #8 STRIKE MAGIC (10/1; Hennig/Maragh) are two of the horses I’m very eagle to watch in the Daily Double Probables.
Race 7 – Futurity Stakes (G3) – 6 Furlongs Turf – 2YO
The stakes get even bigger in the third leg as a Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint berth is on the line in the G3 Futurity Stakes. And with that reward waiting, this field came up strong. I’m hoping to get through this leg using just three horses. My top pick is #5 ANOTHER MIRACLE (5/2; Contessa/Franco). This horse has been well-backed throughout his career – a little uncommon for a Gary Contessa horse – and he looked great in his turf debut in the Skidmore Stakes at Saratoga. The rail-drawn #1 FREEWHEELER (5/1; Pletcher/Velazquez) looks live off a 5 1/4-length maiden win at Saratoga and he’s going to be running well late if he can relax early. #4 FOUR WHEEL DRIVE (9/5; Ward/Ortiz Jr.) broke his maiden in a stakes race at Colonial Downs and even though this race is tougher, Wesley Ward excels with turf sprinters and juveniles.
Race 8 – Flower Bowl Invitational (G1) – 1 1/4 Miles Turf – 3YO+ Fillies & Mares
The first legs are tough and the last two aren’t easy but this one looks as simple as singling #2 SISTERCHARLIE (1/5; Brown/Velazquez). She’s 9-for-13 and has won five straight G1 races. I guess if there’s one knock on her, she is 0-for-2 at Belmont, but both of those defeats were by a neck or less.
Race 9 – Frizette Stakes (G1) – 1 Mile Dirt – 2YO Fillies
A Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies berth is on the line here and the importance of this race is evidenced by the presence of Bob Baffert, Steve Asmussen and Bill Mott in the entries. You know they mean business. Interesting to see #1 QUALITY RESPONSE (7/2; Baffert/Talamo) ship in from California a perfect 2-for-2 and I like her running style for this. She’s the type that can sit in the second flight, stalk and pounce. She’s 2-for-2 in her career and this is a good spot for her, despite a big step up in class. #7 FRANK’S ROCKETTE (5/2; Mott/Velazquez) has run second in a pair of stakes races – the G1 Spinaway and the G2 Adirondack – but I can’t trust her enough to not go deep. #3 WICKED WHSIPER (2/1; Asmussen/Rosario) ran a gigantic race in her debut, winning by 6 1/4-lengths at Del Mar, but she simply overpowered the field that day and she’s going to need to be a little patient as this race is a quarter-mile longer than that one. Finally, #2 DAPHNE MOON (9/2; Englehart; Ortiz Jr.) closed well in her debut race and would benefit from a fast early pace.
Race 10 – Maiden Claiming – 7 Furlongs Turf – 3YO+
This nightcap is going to be a test because, like the first two races, the horses in here just aren’t very good. And there’s nothing worse than needing an inconsistent horse to be consistent for the sake of a big payout. The likely favorite is #11 ZECHARIAH (7/2; Thomas/Velazquez). He puts blinkers on in his first start for Jonathan Thomas and this is his first claiming race after going 0-for-5 in maiden special weight events. John Velazquez taking the mount is a nice feather in his cap. #4 SNOW LION (12/1; Danner/Franco) is bred for turf racing and this is his first career start. Sometimes it’s nice to include a horse that you don’t know much about. #13 DARING DISGUISE (5/2; Rice/Ortiz Jr.) will be on my ticket, but he needs a scratch in order to draw into the field.
Race 5: 4, 5, 6, 9, 12
Race 6: 4, 6, 9, 11
Race 7: 1, 4, 5
Race 8: 2
Race 9: 1, 2, 3, 7
Race 10: 4, 11, 13
Ticket Cost: $144 for 20-cents