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Weekly Bankroll Builder: How I'm Playing Belmont's Friday Pick 5

by Brian Nadeau

May 10, 2018

With Belmont Park in full swing and offering some exceptionally deep turf races, the horizontal exotics are ripe, so let’s continue to take a look at their Pk5. Whereas in the past I’ve put together one caveman ticket on a small-scale budget, going forward I’m going to try and present a bit more of an in-depth play that will utilize backup horses and tickets, while painting a broader picture of a suggested play.

*** Please take note that this analysis is done upwards of 36 hours in advance, so obviously weather, track conditions and especially late scratches can and will have an effect. Please check back around 12pm Friday for an update. ***

Race 1: MW for 3up NYB at 1 1/16 miles on the Widener turf

While it’s not a match race, the opener really boils down to #3 ZECHARIAH (5-2) and #6 BLURRED LINE (1-1), and I expect the odds to be much closer than the ML by post time. I prefer the former, who clearly needed his debut, when broke slowly at 9-1 and rallied mildly for 5th. The latter will take some beating, as he ran against open foes in all three Florida starts, but there’s probably not a lot of upside here and he’s really no faster than these on paper, as that big figure two-back seems a bit of an aberration, so he’s not the type to stand alone with.

Pk5 A horses (listed in order of preference): 3,6

The others seem to have their work cut out for them, but #1 PIRELLI TOWER (9-2) is kin some nice ones, so if the money shows, he should be used, and I assume it will, so at 10:44pm Wednesday night, he sits as my lone B. You could make a small case for #8 Ten Eyck (8-1), but he also hasn’t been out since October and had iffy form last year, so let’s watch one first.

Pk5 B horses (listed in order of preference): 1

Race 2: 3upfm NYB 25k MCL going 6 ½ furlongs

Yikes, talk about a meek field and a race there for the taking. There’s no one here you can trust, which is why I’m going to advocate spreading as deep as your budget allows. And so it probably comes as no surprise that #7 CLASSY CARA (15-1) is my top pick, as she woke up figure-wise in her last, won’t have to improve much, drew well, and will be a big price too. After that you can throw a blanket over the rest, as they all figure but have holes too; #4 PRINCESS MAEVE (2-1) will be bet hard off the MSW drop for Rodriguez but was horrific in her lone dirt run; #1 YOU PROMISE (9-2) has several winning figures but is 0-for-25 lifetime; #5 PUMPERNICKEL BASIL (5-2) is a Nevin firster who has yet to show she is extremely slow but goes for a 1-for-32 debut barn; and #3 MEGALOPSYCHIA (3-1) could like the cutback from a one-turn mile yet seems to have reached her plateau after 10 starts. Get the picture?

Pk5 A horses: 7,4,1,5,3

There’s no B’s to use, since I’ve covered all the bases of those who can win, so if the other three beat me, well, it wasn’t meant to be.

Pk5 B horses: NONE

Race 3: 3upfm 25k claimer at 1 1/16 miles on the Widener turf

There seems to be a lot going on here, as several appear to have winning chances but the race flow is a bit dicey, as there’s not a lot of early speed signed on. For that reason, I’ll go with #5 MISS AJA BROWN (4-1), who figures to be aggressively ridden from a good attack post by Jose Ortiz and got the perfect prep off the break last time, in a spot where she couldn’t be claimed either, which says this is the spot they had in mind all along. There’s little doubt #2 BELIEVE INDEED (2-1) is the gal to beat off her fast figures at Tampa Bay Downs, but she’s also in the big leagues now and meets a tougher crew than the one she was all-out to beat by a neck.

Pk5 A horses: 5,2

I have a very strong opinion of ‘Miss, so I don’t want to spread too deep here, which means the lone B I’ll use is #4 BONITA SPRINGS (3-1), who is an underlay at this price and is slow on paper but will like the drop from the starter-allowance ranks at Gulfstream Park. You can make a case that #1 Zeven (5-1) is a Lone F, but her recent form has been brutal, and as I mentioned above, I don’t envision Jose Ortiz giving her a free pass on the lead, so I’ll play against her.

Pk5 B horses: 4

Race 4: 3up N1X at 1 ¼ miles on the inner turf

Here’s where things get tricky, as you could make a case for five of these, as all have flashed enough talent to win this, but two heavy hitters come in off long layoffs, which further clouds the picture. The latter is one of the reasons I’ll put #2 COUNTY COURT (9-2) on top even though he faces winners for the first time, because he looked extremely sharp breaking his maiden with a big figure off a 13-month layoff and could be the “now” horse. You could surmise #7 GAUGUIN (7-2) will need this off the September layoff, but I have a lot of respect for Mott in these spots, and with Castellano named, he could mean business, especially when you see he was a sharp 2nd in his US debut over the course and distance in July.

Pk5 A horses: 2,7

I may regret not using #6 DEVAMANI (9-5) as an A, but I don’t fully trust him off that US debut 2nd at Keeneland, since it came in a bog and he rallied from last-of-12 to just-miss. The dreaded Euro-bounce could come into play too, as he’s second-off a six-month layoff, and I just don’t like his running style either. If I’m not sold on Devamani because of his lack of speed, then I have to like #1 SHAHROZE (5-1) because he may be loose in here, as there’s very little pace signed on, and his GP races put him in the mix here. The one I’m not using is #4 Business Expense (3-1), since he was a weak 6th behind ‘Dev at Kee, during a time when Chad Brown was winning everything, plus he’ll be way overbet here too.

Pk5 B horses: 6,1

Race 5: 3upfm 62.5k/N2X at 6 ½ furlongs

We end with a tough six-pack and I’m going with an aggressive single in #6 COZZY SPRING (7-2), who was getting good when last seen in October, catches a group without a ton of speed, drew a perfect attack post and has a slew of big works for a Baker barn that has been firing at the meet.

Pk5 A horses: 6

I’ll be equally stringent with my B’s too, as the only one I’ll use is #2 SHORT KAKES (5-2), who has a stalking gear, should trip out nicely and will like the class drop out of a couple solid stakes. I don’t get the 2-1 ML on #1 No Need to Appeal, who seems slow on paper to me and drew poorly down inside, while #4 Picture Day (4-1) has always struggled at Belmont (0-for-4 here, 7-for-18 elsewhere) and #5 Luz Mimi (5-1) is at the mercy of the pace.

Pk5 B horses: 2

My Bets

The main A ticket is a simple 2x5x2x2x1 for $20, and that’s our starting point. But by adding in our B horses in with the A’s in the other legs, we can get more coverage and allow for some margin for error too. As you’ll see below, the backups tickets are a more cost conducive way of getting added coverage, without breaking the bank; if we combined all the A’s and B’s, the ticket would cost $180 (3x5x3x4x2), whereas this way is a more manageable $80. I’m also an advocate of playing you’re A ticket for $1 (or more), so you capitalize if you handicap it out of the park.

Main Ticket: 3,6 with 7,4,1,5,3 with 5,2 with 2,7 with 6 = $20
R1 B Backup: 1 with 7,4,1,5,3 with 5,2 with 2,7 with 6 = $10
R3 B Backup: 3,6 with 7,4,1,5,3 with 4 with 2,7 with 6 = $10
R4 B Backup: 3,6 with 7,4,1,5,3 with 5,2 with 6,1 with 6 = $20
R5 B Backup: 3,6 with 7,4,1,5,3 with 5,2 with 2,7 with 2 = $20