It was an action-packed weekend as MEDINA SPIRIT grabbed the Roses in a wire-to-wire Kentucky Derby win. It was an outstanding performance for the horse and a record setter for trainer Bob Baffert. Triple Crown races like the Kentucky Derby attract swarms of fans. In fact, ratings for the Kentucky Derby were through the roof, up 49% from last year’s race with 14.4 million viewers.
No race will attract the attention of 14.4 million TV viewers and millions of others on their devices, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t great races this weekend, too. Belmont Park hosts five stakes races with at least $150,000 in prize money.
Our analyst will highlight the last three.
Belmont Park Racing Picks
A field of seven fillies and mares will run 6 ½ furlongs on Belmont’s main track. It’s an uncommon distance for most tracks and has favored closers and inside posts in the first seven races during the current meet.
Picks to Win:
HONOR WAY (PP: 5 ML 3-1) has done some of her best racing at Belmont Park with four wins, four seconds and a third in 10 efforts. The seven-year-old mare has also taken well to the distance, winning four of eight with a pair of seconds and a third. She’s been in good form, finishing in the money in nine of her last 10 races.
FRENCH EMPIRE (PP: 7 ML 7/2) has visited the winners’ circle in four consecutive races and six of her last eight races. The daughter of STREET SENSE recorded the top, last race speed figure in her first race after six-weeks on the sidelines. Her history says the second start off the bench should be at least as good as the first.
SADIE LADY (PP: 2 ML 6-1) should be the rabbit the rest of the field is chasing out of the box. She’s either piloted or co-piloted the first quarter and a half miles in nine of her last 10 starts. She is the only consistent frontrunner in the group and has an opportunity to control the pace of the race from the beginning to the end.
VICTIM OF LOVE (PP: 3 ML 4-1) has jockey Joel Rosario in the irons and he’s been as Las Vegas asphalt on a 120-degree, August day, winning six of 14 races to start the meet. His horse has one trip over the New York track, a win at today’s distance, where VICTIM OF LOVE has two triumphs in three tries.
Win: #7 FRENCH EMPIRE
Exacta Box: #2 SADIE LADY, #3 VICTIM OF LOVE, #5 HONOR WAY and #7 FRENCH EMPIRE
PETER PAN STAKES
A half-dozen, three-year-olds will race 1 1/8 miles on Belmont’s main track. Unlike most tracks, races up to 1 1/8 miles at Belmont are one-turn races. Speed has won nine of the 13 races so far with a trio going wire to wires. Once again, inside post draws appear to have an edge over the rest.
Picks to Win:
NOVA RAGS (PP: 2 ML 5/2) finished fourth in the Grade I Florida Derby in his last start on March 27, 2021. Since, he has put in a pair of bullet workouts, suggesting he is reaching peak form for this spot. He debuted at Belmont with a win and should be well positioned all the way around the track.
RISK TAKING (PP: 6 ML 7/5) was the public’s number one choice in the Grade II, Wood Memorial but finished a distant seventh of nine by 6 ¾ lengths. He was never in the race after bobbling at the start. This field should not be as difficult, but the last race is concerning.
PROMISE KEEPER (PP: 3 ML 7/2) is an all or nothing horse, winning two races in blowout laughers or getting smoked by 31 and 10 lengths, from the most recent back. His jockey and trainer combo of Luis Saez and Todd Pletcher have been anything but hot or cold together, hitting the board in 15 of 19 together, including eight wins and the highest, last race speed figure.
WOLFIE’S DYNAGHOST (PP: 4 ML 9/2) won his first start with the highest, debut speed figure for this group and by a decent margin. That’s quickly becoming a favorite betting angle for lightly raced horses like WOLFIE’S DYNAGHOST with just one start on his past performance lines.
Win: #2 NOVA RAGS
Exacta Box: #2 NOVA RAGS, #3 PROMISE KEEPER, #4 WOLFIE’S DYNAGHOST and #6 RISK TAKING
MAN O’ WAR STAKES
This is a marathon at 1 3/8 miles on the inner turf. Inner turf races have tighter turns and the turns come more quickly than traditional turf courses. Because of the tight turns, the winner is usually the most fit horse as it will have the strength needed to hold its position through the turns and not move a little wider through the turns.
Picks to Win:
SOVEREIGN (PP: 1 ML 8/5) is making his way to New York via Bahrain, Great Britain, and Ireland for his first US Start. He’s the richest horse in the field, banking $1.16 million in 14 starts. However, international invaders don’t always run their best in their US debuts. He’s hasn’t raced since late November but much of his training has been solid in preparation for this race.
GUFO (PP: 8 ML 2-1) has also been in the barn since late November. He is a neck away from going three for three in his first starts following a layoff, including a win on Belmont’s inner turf at 1 ¼ miles. Overall, he has five wins with a second and third in his eight career starts.
ZIYAD (PP: 3 ML 6-1) is another that returns the races for the first time since Late November. All but three of his 24 starts were outside of North America. This will be his third start in a row on this side of the planet. He ran third in the previous three and could have, probably should have, won two of them.
SHAMROCKET (PP: 6 ML 15-1) appears to be a live longshot. The four-year-old has finished in the money in 12 consecutive races. The only time he missed the board was in his debut when he had to run three-wide through the turns and six and seven wide in the stretch. In other words, he ran a lot longer race than the stated 1 1/16 miles.
Win: #8 GUFO
Exacta: #1 SOVEREIGN or #8 GUFO to win with #1 SOVEREIGN, #3 ZIYAD, #6 SHAMROCKET or #8 GUFO to finish second.
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