by Dustin Fabian
July 2, 2020
Last week in this space, we came a head from hitting the (admittedly low-paying) Late Pick 4 at Churchill Downs. Unfortunately, Crystal Cliffs had a tough stretch run in the G3 Regret while Harvey’s Lil Goil had a dream trip and pulled it out by a slim margin.
Hopefully we have a little more luck this week as we turn our attention to Belmont Park’s loaded Fourth of July card.
Many of Saturday’s races – traditionally run on the Belmont Stakes undercard – would be in the books already. But due to the difficulty of scheduling an abbreviated meet, we get to enjoy them this weekend.
The Met Mile and Manhattan, the day’s co-features, attracted phenomenal fields of top notch racehorses including MCKINZIE, CODE OF HONOR and VEKOMA in the Met and INSTILLED REGARD, ROCKEMPEROR and SADLER’S JOY in the Manhattan. Sprinkle in horses like GOT STORMY, FRANK’S ROCKETTE, TACITUS and SIR WINSTON throughout the card and this is a day of racing you won’t want to miss.
Met Mile Day Essential Reading
Here’s my take on the Late Pick 4 (Races 8 – 11):
Race 8 (5:13PM ET) – Poker (G3, $150K) – 1 Mile Turf
The Opening Leg of the Late Pick 4 is a really solid edition of the G3 Poker and I think you have to use several horses to get through it. The Chad Brown-trained duo of #2 VALID POINT (7/2) and #9 VALUE PROPOSITION (5/2) are ‘must’ uses and I think you have to give #7 GOT STORMY (7/2) another shot. She scratched out of the G1 Just a Game last weekend to run here and it’s hard to blame the connections – I wouldn’t have wanted to face Newspaperofrecord and Uni either. GOT STORMY will need to capture her best form but her best day is on par with any of these. I’ve chased #3 HAWKISH (12/1) and #5 SOCIAL PARANOIA (4/1) enough in recent starts to use them again.
Pick 4 ‘Use’ Horses: #2 VALID POINT, #7 GOT STORMY, #9 VALUE PROPOSITION
Pick 4 ‘Bigger Ticket’ Consider Horses: None
Race 9 (5:47PM ET) – Met Mile (G1, $500K) – 1 Mile Dirt
#3 MCKINZIE (2/1) seems best suited for this one-turn mile trip and should have beaten Sprint Champion Mitole in this race last year if not for a tumultuous trip. He’s definitely the horse to beat on Saturday in my eyes and I will bet that accordingly. #5 CODE OF HONOR (3/1) is one we must consider at Belmont and #2 VEKOMA (5/2) has a pace advantage on the top picks as he’ll be drafting just in behind the speed. That said, it’s one thing to run away and hide from NETWORK EFFECT (8/1) and American Anthem – another MCKINZIE and CODE OF HONOR. #7 MR FREEZE (8/1) gets back to the one-turn mile trip over which he ran the best race of his life in the G2 Gulfstream Park Mile on February 29, but he needs to prove he can run that well away from Gulfstream.
Pick 4 ‘Use’ Horses: #3 MCKINZIE, #5 CODE OF HONOR
Pick 4 ‘Bigger Ticket’ Consider Horses: #2 VEKOMA
Race 10 (6:20PM ET) – Manhattan (G1, $400K) – 1 1/4 Miles Turf
The Chad Brown show continues in New York as he sends out three horses here and all have a big shot - #1 INSTILLED REGARD (2/1), #2 ROCKEMPEROR (5/1) and #5 DEVAMANI (9/2). History says the winner should come from this group (Brown has won this race five times since 2012 and four of the last six) so we don’t need to get cute in looking for a winner. Of Brown’s four starters, INSTILLED REGARD is the likeliest winner with his other two charges being much more pace dependent. I’m adding #3 CROSS BORDER (10/1) as a ‘consider’ as he has the potential to be lone speed and give his backers some thrills at a decent price.
Pick 4 ‘Use’ Horses: #1 INSTILLED REGARD, #2 ROCKEMPEROR, #5 DEVAMANI
Pick 4 ‘Bigger Ticket’ Consider Horses: #3 CROSS BORDER
Race 11 (6:51PM ET) – Suburban (G2, $200K) – 1 1/4 Miles Dirt
It would be hard to envision singling #1 TACITUS (9/5) in this spot given all of the disappointment that one has given his backers in the last 14 months. Since winning the G2 Wood Memorial he is 0-for-7. That said, he exits a useful prep in the G2 Oaklawn Handicap and should move forward from that effort. #6 SIR WINSTON (7/2) won the Belmont last year but isn’t a standout. #4 MR. BUFF (2/1) is a New York bred who runs his best races on the lead. #8 MORETTI (5/1) is in great form.
Pick 4 ‘Use’ Horses: #1 TACITUS, #8 MORETTI
Pick 4 ‘Bigger Ticket’ Consider Horses: #4 MR. BUFF, #6 SIR WINSTON
Race 8: #2 VALID POINT, #7 GOT STORMY, #9 VALUE PROPOSITION
Race 9: #3 MCKINZIE, #5 CODE OF HONOR
Race 10: #1 INSTILLED REGARD, #2 ROCKEMPEROR, #5 DEVAMANI
Race 11: #1 TACITUS, #8 MORETTI
Ticket Cost: $36 for $1